May 13 , 2019

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:

Bills on the Move:

Several AGC-TBB bills remain active as thousands of other bills miss deadline

House and Senate conference committee members to negotiate final details of budget, school finance, and property tax reform

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Quote of the Week

"When you're doing something as complex as this, there's going to be something you don't like."

-Sen. Larry Taylor
Sen. Taylor (R-Friendswood)  made the comment ahead of last Monday's debate over school finance reform legislation that ended with senators approving the measure - House Bill 3 - on a 26-2 vote. The bill had contained a provision to lower school district property taxes by raising the sales tax rate by one percent, but Taylor removed it from the bill before Monday's vote as opposition to the idea had mounted in both chambers of the Legislature. 
AGC-TBB bills in play as House hits deadline to pass state bills 

Last week marked a major deadline in the Texas House, as it was the last chance for its 150 members to pass any state House bills remaining in the chamber. Members will devote the rest of session - until it officially ends on May 27 - considering House bills addressing local issues as well as legislation from the Senate. 

While just two major AGC-TBB bills - HB 1737 (statute of repose) and HB 589 (lien reform) - failed to reach a vote on the House floor, several other AGC-TBB bills remain active in the legislative process.

As of May 3, according to the Legislative Reference Library, 1,831 bills (out of 7,540 bills filed) had passed out of either the Senate or the House. Of those, 104 bills have passed both chambers, and eight bills have been signed by the governor. 

The following is an update on the status of bills concerning major AGC-TBB issues that are still in play...

Attorney's Fees for State Breach of Contract (HB 1185 by Rep. Cyrier and Sen. Hughes). This bill received final passage in the House on Friday by a 122-13 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate where it awaits assignment to a committee. 
School Construction Defects (HB 1734 by Rep. Holland and Sen. Lucio). This bill passed on final reading in the House on a vote of 111-30, and it passed the Senate Education Committee on May 7 by a 6-2 vote. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Senate. 
Right to Repair (HB 1999 by Rep. Leach and Sen. Creighton).  The bill passed the House last month on a 99-34 vote. The bill has been assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee and is scheduled for a hearing May 13. 
Uniform General Conditions (K-12 contracts) (SB 1297 by Sen. Powell and Rep. Eddie Lucio III) - This bill passed in the Senate last month by a vote of 31-0. The House Public Education Committee voted 11-0 to pass the bill on May 7 and sent the bill to the House Calendars Committee where it awaits a vote by the full House. 
Limits on Contingency Lawyers for Defects Cases  (HB 2826 by Rep. Greg Bonnen and Sen. Huffman) - The bill passed the House on a 103-39 vote on May 2 and was sent to the Senate State Affairs Committee where it is scheduled for a May 13 hearing.
Attorney's Fees for All Breaches of Contract (HB 790 by Rep. Sarah Davis) - This bill passed in the House by a 136-1 margin and awaits assignment to a committee in the Senate. 
Contractors Not Liable for Design Defects on Road Projects (HB 2899 by Rep. Leach) - After passing the House by a 115-31 margin, this bill was voted 8-0 out of the Senate Transportation Committee on May 8. The measure has been recommended for Local/Uncontested in the Senate where it awaits a full vote.
Local Preemption Bills (Sen. Creighton)
SB 2485 (employee benefits) - The bill passed the Senate on a  18-12 vote and awaits a vote in the House State Affairs Committee where it has received a hearing. 

SB 2486 (scheduling and overtime) - The bill passed the Senate on a  20-11 vote and was voted out of the House State Affairs Committee 10-2 on May 1. The bill now awaits a vote by the full Senate. 

SB 2487 (paid leave) - The bill passed the Senate on a  18-12 vote and awaits a vote in the House State Affairs Committee where it has received a hearing. 

SB 2488 (criminal history) - The bill passed the Senate on a  19-12 vote and awaits a vote in the House State Affairs Committee where it has received a hearing. 
Property tax and school finance reform bills head to conference
With just 14 days left until the 86th Texas Legislature adjourns, the top two issues for the most powerful elected state officials - property taxes and school finance - are headed to conference committees where groups of appointed members of the House and Senate will work to iron out the final details of the bills. 

The "Big Three" - Lt. Gov. Patrick, Gov. Abbott, and Speaker Bonnen
The "Big Three" - Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen - have been touting reforms on these two issues in one form or another since before the session began in January. While both the House and Senate chambers have approved property tax and school finance reform bills, they passed different versions whose differences need to be reconciled in a conference committee before a final bill can be sent to Gov. Abbott for signature and final approval.

The biggest news last week was that the Senate approved House Bill 3, which is the school finance bill that originated in the House, on a 26-2 vote. Most notably, the bill passed without a provision favored by Abbott that would increase the state sales tax rate by one percent and use the revenue to lower school district property taxes. While the measure passed by the House has no relationship to sales taxes, the bill ties property tax reform to public school districts, which comprise the largest share of the state's revenue from property taxes. 

Meanwhile, the House has passed Senate Bill 2, the vehicle for property tax reform, but it passed with some variation on the bill that originated in the Senate. The main provision in the bill would require cities, counties, and and emergency service districts to hold an election to approve raising 3.5% more property tax revenue than the previous year. The details of exactly when such "rollback elections" would be triggered still need to be negotiated between the House and Senate in conference committee.

House Speaker Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Patrick have appointed five members each to negotiate the final details of House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 2 in conference committee. Members have also been appointed to confer on the final details of the state's two-year budget contained in House Bill 1. The conferees are as follows:

House Bill 1 (Budget)
House: Rep. Zerwas (Chair); Rep. Greg Bonnen; Rep. Sarah Davis; Rep. Longoria; Rep. Walle
Senate: Sen. Nelson (Chair); Sen. Huffman; Sen. Kolkhorst; Sen. Nichols; Sen. Taylor

Senate Bill 2 (Property Tax Reform)
Senate: Sen. Hancock (Chair); Sen. Bettencourt; Sen. Creighton; Sen. Hinojosa; Sen. Perry
House: Rep. Burrows (Chair); Rep. Canales; Rep. Guillen; Rep. Murphy; Rep. Noble

House Bill 3 (School Finance Reform)
House: Rep.  Huberty  (Chair); Rep. Ashby; Rep. Bernal; Rep. Mary Gonzalez; Rep. Ken King
Senate: Sen. Taylor (Chair); Sen. Campbell; Sen. Nelson; Sen. Watson; Sen. West
May 2019
MON 27th - Last Day of 86th Legislature
June 2019
WED 5th - SAT 8th - Convention @ Jackson Hole, WY
August 2019
THU 22nd - OCA awards @ Georgetown, TX
FRI 23rd - Board meeting
November 2019
FRI 15th - Board meeting