February 1 , 2019

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:
Three AGC members receive House committee chair positions

Patrick makes few shifts in Senate leadership

"Big Three" state leaders announce plan to reform local property tax rollback elections

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AGC Texas Chapters

Quote of the Week

"I'm like Tom Brady. I'm not as good as Tom Brady. Let's say, I'm like quarterback. You have to forget about the interception to keep playing the game."

- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
The lieutenant governor made the comment last week regarding his decision to remove Sen. Ken Seliger (R-Amarillo) from his post as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee and from committees on Finance and Education. Patrick said the decision was made not because of policy disagreements, but rather due to a comment Seliger recently made on a radio show. 
Reminder: Legislative Day at the Capitol is approaching

Join us at the Capitol for Legislative Day on Feb. 25-26!  All chapter members are welcome to take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with legislators and other AGC members from across the state. Register here.

Monday, Feb. 25 - Evening reception at The Austin Club starting at 5:30 p.m. for registration and cocktail hour. 
Tuesday, Feb. 26 - Legislative Day in the Capitol Extension Auditorium (Room E1:004). 
Please stay tuned for more details. We look forward to seeing you!
Speaker Bonnen selects three AGC members to lead House committees

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen's group of committee chairs, announced last week, includes three House lawmakers who are AGC members. 

The AGC members appointed to lead House committees this session include: Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), chairing Culture, Recreation & Tourism; Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), chairing Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence; and  Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), chairing Insurance.

The committee chairs will lead the 34 standing House committees for the current legislative session that ends in January, 2021. With committee assignments filled, House members can now begin to move bills through the legislative process.

Left to right, Reps. Cyrier, Leach, Lucio III

Cyrier is also serving as a member on the committee for Juvenile Justice & Family Issues. Leach is serving on Pensions; Investments & Financial Services; and Redistricting. And Lucio is serving on the committee for Public Health. 

Bonnen also made changes to some of the House's committees that handle major legislation. Calendars, which manages the chamber's flow of legislation, is headed by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), replacing Rep. Todd Hunter. State Affairs, handling a slew of legislation, is chaired by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), replacing Rep. Byron Cook, who did not seek re-election. 

House Appropriations, the budget-planning committee, will again be lead by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond). The Ways and Means Committee, which takes on tax-writing duties and was once lead by Bonnen, will now be chaired by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock). Finally, the House Business & Industry committee, which regulates business and employment policies, will be headed by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio). 
In the Senate, Patrick maintains core group of committee leaders

In announcing his picks for committee chair positions, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made few changes from the 2017 legislative session, with veteran Senators retaining their posts on the chamber's chief committees. 

The following senators were re-appointed to positions on major Senate committees: Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) is chair of the Finance Committee, which crafts the budget for the upper chamber. The Committee on Business & Commerce is chaired by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills). Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is heading the State Affairs Committee. And Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) has also held onto his chairmanship of the Education Committee. 

One major shift in leadership came as Sen. Ken Seliger (R-Amarillo) lost his longtime position as chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. He was also removed from two other committees on Education and Finance. However, Patrick appointed Seliger to lead the newly formed committee on Agriculture, which broke off this year from a larger committee on agriculture, water and rural issues. 

Of the Senate's 19 standing committees for this legislative session, one of the most significant is likely to be the new committee on property taxes as Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and Gov. Greg Abbott have united in their efforts to reform property taxes this spring. That five-member committee will be lead by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who has lead the Senate's property tax efforts in previous sessions. 
State's top three officials announce plan for local property tax reform 

Gov. Greg Abbott along with leaders of the Texas House and Senate announced this week their plan to curb property tax growth and give more control over local tax increases to voters. 

The "Big Three," as they're collectively known around the Capitol, presented in a press conference Thursday a plan that would require local governments to get voter approval before revenue growth from property taxes exceeds 2.5 percent over the previous year; however, the proposal would not apply to small municipalities with potential property and sales tax collections of $15 million or less.

Abbott was joined by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick along with the respective leaders of the House and Senate tax writing committees, signaling what Abbott called an unprecedented approach in terms of this kind of unity on property tax reform, a major issue in Austin for the last several sessions. 

"It's a testament to the voters in this state," Abbott said. "The voters demanded this, and this demonstrates that the Texas Legislature is responsive to the needs of our voters."

Under current law, cities and counties are allowed to tax up to an eight-percent increase in property tax revenue growth without triggering an election. Additionally, the legislation floated by the state's leaders would trigger an election without requiring citizens to collect signatures, which is currently mandated. Potentially, a municipality could trigger the "rollback" election even without a change in the rate since the rate is based on the appraised value of properties within a taxing unit's borders.

The House and Senate attempted to pass similar measures in 2017 but failed to agree on a final figure, with the House at 6 percent and the Senate at 4 percent. The pair of companion bills touted this session - House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2 - have been filed and are awaiting committee assignments. The bill's chief sponsors are Sen. Paul Bettencourt and Rep. Dustin Burrows. 
February 2019
FRI 15th - OCAs submission deadline
TUE 26th - Legislative Day
April 2019
FRI 26th - TBB Board meeting
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