81st Texas Legislature – Regular Session
Austin Newsletter No. 3
HB 2 by Representative John Otto is a major property tax overhaul bill. Presently it is a working draft with more provisions to be added.
HB 2 directs the Comptroller to alternate annually between property value studies and audits of appraisal district methods and procedures. The audits are intended to rein in appraisal districts creatively applying property tax provisions and to improve consistency in the application of tax laws. HB 2 establishes options for certain property owners to challenge appraisals through arbitration. HB 2 clarifies that a residence homestead can only be valued at its residential value, rather than at its ‘highest and best use’ commercial property value. This would prevent ‘condemnation by evaluation’ forcing a homeowner to sell because they can’t afford to pay commercial value taxes on their home.
Representative John Otto also filed HJR 36, to ensure provisions of HB 2 are constitutionally protected. Without HJR 36, some provisions of HB 2 might be ruled unconstitutional.
TFB supports HB 2 & HJR 36 as drafted. (Section 140, Pg. 29-32, Lines 15-17 & 151-156.)
HJR 38 by Representative Phil King proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution regarding the property tax relief fund. HJR 38 would require the comptroller to transfer 25% of any unspent balance of the general revenue fund at the end of each fiscal biennium to the property tax relief fund. The money is to be released to the public school districts so they may reduce public school district taxes.
TFB supports HJR 38. (Section 140, Pg. 29, Lines 7-8.)
Toll Road Projects
SB 384 by Senator John Carona deals with TxDOT’s involvement with toll road projects. Under SB 384 TxDOT may not engage marketing, advertising, or other activities for the purpose of influencing public opinion about the use of toll roads or the use of tolls as a financial mechanism.
TFB opposes the use of taxpayer dollars to advertise in favor of road projects, such as the Trans-Texas Corridor, and supports SB 384. (Section 157, Pg. 68, Lines 77-79)
Representative Leibowitz has proposed HB 11. HB 11 repeals the authority for the establishment and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
TFB supports HB 11. (Section 157, Pg. 68, Line 56)
Rural Economic Development
HB 377 by Representative Sid Miller creates the Texas Rural Job Development Fund. This grant-program would be administered by the Office of Rural Community Affairs and provide specific means for rural communities to access money to advance a local economy.
TFB supports HB 377. (Section 180, Pg. 89, Line 1-3)