As the legislature’s time in Austin draws to a close in less than three short weeks, lawmakers will have to act fast to pass a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying.
Taxpayer-funded lobbying refers to cities, counties, and other local governments or taxing entities that spend money to lobby the legislature. Often, it is done in an effort to take on pro-taxpayer policies such as property tax relief and reform or measures of increased accountability and transparency.
An increased spotlight has been placed on taxpayer-funded lobbying this year, as the legislature has worked on efforts to rein in skyrocketing property taxes. The issue has also been made a legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas and has received attention as Gov. Greg Abbott has called an end to the practice.
While legislation to end taxpayer-funded lobbying by State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) has already passed the Texas Senate, a House version by State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) failed to be placed on a calendar ahead of the deadline despite passing out of the House Committee on State Affairs over a month ago.
That means Hall’s bill, Senate Bill 29, is the last remaining legislative vehicle this session for enacting the ban.
This week, however, the committee approved a committee substitute to SB 29 and has sent it to the House Committee on Calendars, who will determine whether the bill will receive a vote on the House floor.
While the deadline for the chamber to consider House bills is Thursday, Senate bills can be heard by the House through Tuesday, May 21.
Taxpayers who are tired of having their voices drowned out in the state Capitol by taxpayer-funded lobbyists have an ever-shrinking window to demand that SB 29 receive a vote by the House in order for the bill to have a chance at reaching the governor’s desk.