The top tax priority this year for Texas legislators and Governor Greg Abbott (R) is property tax relief, which makes sense given the Lone Star State is home to one of the highest average property tax burdens in the nation. Disagreements over the best way to go about providing said property tax relief, however, have been a sticking point between leadership in the Texas House and Senate.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick wants to increase the homestead exemption and has expressed opposition to House Speaker Dade Phelan’s proposal to reduce the cap on annual increases in property value assessments. With less than two weeks left in the regular session, however, lawmakers in Austin are running out of time to reach a deal.
The latest action in this back and forth occurred this week in the Texas House, which passed an amended version of the Senate Bill 3, the property tax relief bill approved by the Senate in March. The House-amended property tax relief bill maintains the assessment cap reduction included in the initial House proposal, while adopting a homestead exemption greater than the one included in the Senate-passed property tax package.
Members of the Texas Senate must now decide whether they’ll approve the House’s changes to SB 3, make further amendments, or reject the bill. The Texas Legislature is scheduled to adjourn its regular session on May 31. Governor Abbott has warned that if the legislators do not approve his two top priorities — school choice and property tax relief — in a meaningful fashion, he will call a special session to address the matter.
While a property tax relief deal is still being worked out, Texas legislators are even closer to enacting a reform that could become a national model for reining in regulatory costs. House Bill 2127, legislation introduced by Representative Dustin Burrows (R) and Senator Brandon Creighton (R), passed out of the Senate this week with a few changes to the House-approved version. If the House votes to concur with the Senate amendments today, the most robust local preemption bill in the nation will soon be heading to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
Lawmakers in other states have already expressed interest in filing a version of HB 2127 next year, demonstrating once again why even those who don’t live in Texas may want to pay attention to what’s happening in Austin. As has been demonstrated many times, policies implemented in Texas often spread to other states.