In a surprise move, Texas House Republicans have voted to stall a property tax reform bill, with the author citing “negotiations with the Senate” as the reason for the delay.

The House was expected Sunday evening to finally approve SB 1, a property tax reform bill that is a major priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Abbott. The bill had passed an initial vote on Saturday on a party-line basis and with the current special session ending at midnight Wednesday, time is still needed for a conference committee between the House and Senate.

However, the bill’s House sponsor, Ways & Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen (R–Angleton), instead went to the floor and asked members to vote to postpone the vote until Monday citing negotiations with the Senate.

“Can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time,” State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) asked.

Bonnen responded, saying that the negotiations could not move forward if the property tax reform bill was moved out of the House as scheduled. When Schaefer asked him to be specific about what other bills were involved in the negotiations, Bonnen refused to answer.

Capitol sources are now reporting that property tax reform is tied up in negotiations involving a House school finance proposal. What Bonnen couldn’t say was the truth – he’s holding property tax reform hostage for education funding.

Unable to truthfully answer questions about his motion to postpone, Bonnen began whining that in the past authors would be respected when they asked the chamber to delay their own bills.

“Chairman Bonnen, this bill doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the people of Texas.”

Despite the debate, most House Republicans followed Bonnen’s lead and agreed to postpone the bill.

Voting in favor of stalling property tax reform:

Anderson, C.; Anderson, R.; Ashby; Bailes; Bell; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Burkett; Burrows; Button; Capriglione; Clardy; Cosper; Craddick; Cyrier; Dale; Darby; Davis, S.; Dean; Elkins; Faircloth; Flynn; Frank; Frullo; Geren; Goldman; Gonzales;  Gooden; Holland; Huberty; Hunter; Isaac; Kacal; King, K.; King, P.; Klick; Koop; Kuempel; Lambert; Landgraf; Larson; Lozano; Metcalf; Meyer; Miller; Morrison;  Murr; Oliverson; Paddie; Parker; Paul; Phelan; Phillips; Price; Raney; Roberts; Schubert; Sheffield; Shine; Simmons; Smithee; Springer; Stephenson; Stucky;  Thompson, E.; VanDeaver; Villalba; White; Workman; Wray; Zerwas

Voting against stalling property tax reform:

Biedermann; Cain; Hefner; Keough; Krause; Lang; Leach; Rinaldi; Schaefer; Schofield; Stickland; Swanson; Tinderholt; Wilson; Zedler

SB 1 is scheduled to be brought back up on Monday. It is still possible the bill will pass, but the delay puts property tax reform in jeopardy and takes away valuable time for the House and Senate to resolve their differences on the bill in conference.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.