Property Tax Relief added to the call & passed by Senate
Governor Greg Abbott added "Legislation providing additional property-tax relief for Texans" to the call for the third special session today. And later in the day, the Texas Senate gave final passage to Senate Bill 1 (Bettencourt), which provides just that.

SB 1 will provide additional temporary property tax relief during tax year 2022, with additional tax rate compression expected to be in the neighborhood of about 6 cents. The exact amount of property tax compression would be the lesser of $4 billion or $2 billion plus surplus funds identified by the Comptroller.

Additionally, there are three floor amendments that were added to SB 1 (you can click on links below to read the text of the proposed amendments, as they will not be available on the state website for some time yet):
Floor Amendment 1 (Bettencourt) & Floor Amendment 2 (Menendez)
This amendment requires that the tax bill, or the statement that accompanies the tax bill, states the difference in the amount of taxes in 2022 due to the temporary tax relief compared to what it would have been without that additional compression. The Menendez amendment makes it clear that this tax relief in 2022 is TEMPORARY and will expire after 2022.

Floor Amendment 3 (Bettencourt)
The amendment says that a school district may not adopt a total tax rate, including M&O and I&S, that exceeds the district's voter-approval tax rate for the 2022 tax year. This is effectively a limitation on the M&O tax rate, including prohibiting voter-approval tax rate (VATR) elections in November 2022.

This language means that districts can service previously approved debt, and it also does not prevent districts from seeking approval on new bond referendums.

Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) stated that the purpose of this amendment is to ensure property taxpayers receive the tax relief, as intended by the Legislature. Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) raised concerns about the unintended consequences that could be caused by this particular amendment, and he pointed out that such an amendment restricts the voice of local voters who may want the right to approve of a high tax rate in their community.

All three amendments were adopted and the bill was passed by a vote of 30-1. SB 1 now moves on for consideration in the Texas House.

The amendment that was to be proposed that would have limited districts' ability to seek voter approval for bonds was ultimately withdrawn and never officially offered.

Even so, if you haven't already done so, take the time to listen to some or all of the September 21 Senate Finance hearing available in the archives on this topic.

Contact your legislators
Your elected officials in the Texas House need to hear from districts about the amendments described above. Please be in touch with your elected representative(s) to share your district's perspective. Any district that might have pursued an election in 2022 for approval to increase their M&O tax rate above the Voter Approval Tax Rate would be unable to do so.

Senate advancing other bills
The Texas Senate is already hard at work advancing bills. In addition to SB 1, the Senate also passed the following today:

  • SB 3- Relating to requiring public school students to compete in interscholastic athletic competitions based on biological sex.
  • SB 5 - Relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog.
  • SJR 1 - Proposing a constitutional amendment requiring a judge or magistrate to impose the least restrictive conditions of bail that may be necessary and authorizing the denial of bail.

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