86th Legislative Session Update #13

“It is all right to be content with what you have, but never with what you are.”    -Unknown

SENATE:

The Senate was in session last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last Monday, the Senate passed 4 bills including SB 2 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), the proposed Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2019. Senator Bettencourt said, “This is the day that taxpayers in Texas have long waited for. Our people want real, meaningful property tax relief. That’s what I hear most from my constituents.

The goal of SB 2 is to give relief not only to those Texans who own homes or operate businesses but to provide property tax relief for those Texans who have yet to own a home and have yet to start a business. It is for Texans and their businesses that have been feeling the squeeze of rising property taxes. Texas is number 3 in property tax rates across the country, behind only Illinois and New Jersey. There was a 15 percent increase in property taxes for the average home in Dallas in 2018, 11 percent in Harris County in 2019, and nearly double-digit increases across the state. SB 2 lets the people vote on any yearly property tax increase above the 3.5% rollback limit.”

Governor Greg Abbott said, “Today the Texas Senate took action to deliver on the promise of reining in skyrocketing property taxes. Thanks to the leadership of Lt. Governor Patrick and Senator Bettencourt, meaningful property tax reform is one step closer to becoming a reality. I look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Bonnen, Chairman Burrows and the entire legislature to provide lasting property tax relief for all Texans.”

Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) voted to suspend the Senate’s rules to allow debate to take place on SB 2 but remained steadfast in his opposition to the legislation. This decision prevented the blocker bill, which ensures cooperative work in the Senate, from being removed from the order of business in the so-called “nuclear option.” Senator Seliger said, “I voted to suspend the rules today in an effort to preserve decades of collegiality and cooperation in the Texas Senate by preserving the procedural ‘blocker bill’ rather than setting a precedent by moving forward with what the Lt. Governor threatened to hastily throw away by using the ‘nuclear option.’ To destroy the history of Senate procedures to allow consideration of a bill that is destined to pass is a waste. I hope my action today keeps the Texas Senate from diminishing itself and its exemplary tradition.

On the matter of the legislation itself, I continue to oppose the passage of SB 2 in its current form. I have a pair of bills that provide real relief and limit growth in appraisals without hamstringing our local governments and schools. Cities and counties must be able to have the ability to keep our citizens and streets safe. Our schools must be able to educate the next generation with world-class instruction and institutions. I encourage my colleagues in the House to continue to advance a more compromised version of property tax reform in a way that will allow Texas to continue to grow a strong economy.”

Senator José Rodríguez (D-El Paso) voiced the concerns of Senate Democrats who voted against SB 2. “I appreciate the effort to address rising property taxes, but SB 2 falls far short of the mark. It will not provide true property tax relief, which can only be achieved when the state fulfills its obligations to adequately fund public schools. Local elected officials know their communities and their needs. Without a doubt, people want local governments to provide basic services.

While Texans may be split on the question of revenue caps, they are overwhelmingly in support of local government having the ability to meet local needs like police, fire, and emergency medical services. This approach is regressive, hurting low-income Texans and low-property wealth communities the most. Studies show that revenue caps result in higher fees, fines, and other revenue generators that impact middle- and low-income the most. Shifting the burden and hampering local communities while failing to provide real relief is simply not good public policy.

I agree that we need property tax reform that helps those who need it most. But we need to help, not hinder, local communities, and we need to make sure the reform reaches the property taxpayer without imposing new burdens on working Texans. This bill is more symbolic than substantive as far as property tax relief; it is a purely political statement that will yield little return for homeowners. Consequently, I could not vote for it.”

Also last Monday, the Senate passed SB 9 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), an election fraud prevention bill. Senator Hughes said, “Texas takes election fraud seriously. We must ensure that every vote is counted accurately and that those who cheat are held accountable. SB 9 will require, among other provisions, all voting systems to have a verifiable paper audit trail, authorize audits to confirm the proper function of electronic voting systems, and allow law enforcement to test vulnerabilities in the electoral system.

The bill also will stiffen penalties for false statements on voter registration applications and unlawful assistance in voting. From the Rio Grande Valley to East Texas to the Metroplex, we have had troubling allegations or incidents of voter fraud. The ability to govern ourselves is tied to the integrity of the ballot, and conducting secure elections is a core function of state government. Ensuring that our electronic systems have a paper audit trail will greatly enhance security. Moreover, stiffening penalties for voter fraud will deter violations of this sacred right of democratic government.” addressing election fraud.

Also last Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 1264 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) providing consumer protections against surprise medical billing. Senator Hancock said, “I’ve been fighting a confusing medical billing system with Texas patients for a decade now. Today’s vote means we’re one big step closer to ending surprise billing for good. With healthcare costs skyrocketing, this relief can’t come soon enough for Texas consumers. SB 1264 removes patients from disputes between insurance companies and providers. It establishes an arbitration process to eliminate the need for patient-triggered mediation and provides state regulatory authority over that arbitration. Key to the legislation, it prohibits surprise billing of consumers in situations where the patients have no choice which provider they see or which facility they visit. This includes medical emergencies, non-network care at in-network hospitals, and out-of-network lab and imaging work.”

AARP Texas Director Bob Jackson said, “Consumers deserve to be held harmless from the anguish and shock of surprise medical bills that they encounter from billing disputes between insurers and medical providers. SB 1264 is truly landmark legislation that, if approved by the Legislature and signed into law, would be welcomed relief for Texans.”

Last Wednesday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to three bills and passed 31 bills including SB 29 by Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), which would prohibit the use of public funds for lobbying expenses.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said, “I congratulate Senator Hall and the Texas Senate for passing SB 29 and for taking a principled stand against this local misuse of taxpayer funds. Voters elect local officials to represent them. They shouldn’t have their taxpayer dollars squandered to pay for hired-gun lobbyists who too often are working against taxpayer interests. SB 29 is a principled conservative reform that is long overdue and I commend the Texas Senate for passing it today.”

Other bills that passed the Senate this last week are in the issue categories below.

Total number of bills reported out of Senate Committees this week:    112

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this week:                                 150

Total number of bills passed on the Local & Uncontested Calendar       83

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this session:                             440

 

HOUSE:
The House was in session last Monday through Thursday of last week.

Last Monday, the House gave preliminary approval to 54 bills and passed two bills.

Last Tuesday, the House passed 59 bills to third reading and gave final approval to 55 bills. Receiving preliminary approval were HB 18, which would add positive behavior interventions support to school districts’ improvement plans and expanding school counseling programs for students with mental health conditions;

HB 19, which would require local mental health authorities to employ a non-physician mental health professional to serve as a mental health resource for school districts; and

HB 1070, which would require additional mental health first aid training for school employees, all by Four Price (R-Amarillo). Representative Price said, “All three of these bills work in tandem to provide impactful resources, support and other solutions to positively address the heightened mental health concerns in Texas public schools. Also, all three bills support Governor Greg Abbott’s efforts to provide additional resources for students with a mental health condition. I am grateful for Governor Abbott’s leadership in raising the profile of mental health matters by prioritizing it as a legislative emergency item during his 2019 State of the State Address. Effectively identifying and treating children with mental health issues can help prevent the loss of critical developmental, academic, and emotional maturity.”

Last Thursday, the House gave preliminary approval to 2 bills and passed 26 bills on the regular calendar and 38 bills on the Local & Consent Calendar. They gave final approval to HB 8 by Victoria Neave (D-Dallas), which would clear the backlog of untested “rape kits” and revise timelines for analyzing sexual assault kits.

Representative Neave said, “The Lavinia Masters Act will tackle the backlog of thousands of untested rape kits in Texas and bring justice to survivors of sexual assault. HB 8 is named after Lavinia Masters, who, at the age of 13 years old, was raped at knifepoint in the middle of the night by a man who broke into her home. Lavinia’s rape kit sat on a shelf untested for more than 20 years. Once tested, the 10-year statute of limitations had expired. HB 8 will address the circumstances in Lavinia’s case that led to the delay in the testing of her rape kit so that, in future cases, victims are not denied justice.”

Other bills that passed the House this past week are in the issue categories below.

Total number of bills reported out of House Committees this week:     365    

Total number of bills passed by the House this week:                                  181

Total number of bills passed on the Local & Consent Calendar                38

Total number of bills passed by the House this session:                             447

STATEWIDE:

Passed the House:

HB 7 by Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) would require the Division of Emergency Management to develop a plan to assist political subdivisions with contracts for services needed following a disaster. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 131 to 0.

HB 1177 by Dade Phelan (R-Nederland) would allow persons to carry a handgun without a license while evacuating from an area subject to a mandatory evacuation order during a declared state of disaster. Two-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 102 to 29.

HB 2794 by Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) would transfer administration of the Texas Division of Emergency Management from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas A&M University System. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 132 to 0.

HCR 40 by Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) would authorize the lieutenant governor and the speaker to appoint joint committees. It passed the House on the Local & Consent Calendar.

SB 537 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Ed Thompson (R-Pearland) would authorize the Texas Department of Transportation to purchase food and beverages for employees responding to emergencies or disasters. SB 537 was substituted for HB 2708 on the House floor and it passed the House by a vote of 132 to 0.

Passed the Senate:

SB 494 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would suspend open meeting requirements during a natural disaster to allow a governmental body to deliberate or take action on the emergency or urgent public necessity. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate on the Local & Uncontested calendar. The companion, HB 3752, was voted favorably as substituted from the House State Affairs Committee this week.

SB 799 by Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) would create a business advisory council to provide advice and expertise on actions state and local governments can take to assist businesses in recovering from a disaster. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

BUDGET:

Conferees – On Wednesday, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick appointed conferees on HB 1, the appropriations bill. Senate conferees are Senators Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), Joan Huffman (R-Houston), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), and Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). The previously appointed House conferees are Representatives John Zerwas (R-Fulshear), Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), Sarah Davis (R-Houston), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), and Armando Lucio Walle (D-Houston). The first meeting of the HB 1 conference committee will be at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Conferees were also appointed for SB 500, the supplemental appropriations bill. They are Senators Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), Joan Huffman (R-Houston), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Representatives John Zerwas (R-Fulshear), Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller), Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso), Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land), and Toni Rose (D-Dallas).

Passed the Senate:

SB 69 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would eliminate the legislative committee that determines the sufficient balance for the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and requires the Comptroller to calculate the sufficient balance. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate on the Local & Uncontested calendar.

SB 462 by Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would require ballot propositions of political subdivisions that authorize bonds to clearly state the purpose of the bonds, the principal amount to be authorized the taxes sufficient to pay the principal and interest on the bonds, the aggregate amount of the outstanding principal of the previously issued bonds, and the ad valorem debt service tax rate expressed in an amount per $100 valuation of taxable property. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 24 to 7.

SB 849 by Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) would require the proposed budget of a local governmental entity that includes revenue from a new fee or a fee increase to contain a cover page stating that the budget includes estimated revenue from a new or increased fee and a description of the fee. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 5. The companion, HB 984, was voted favorably as substituted from the House Urban Affairs Committee this week.

The Senate Business & Commerce Committee will meet on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 8:00 a.m. in E1.023 of the Capitol extension to take up:

HB 81 by Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would make public funds expended by a governmental body for a parade, concert, or other entertainment events open to the general public subject to disclosure under the open records laws.

On Wednesday, the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee took up:

SB 132 by Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would establish the Texas Leverage Fund to be used to make loans to economic development corporations for eligible projects of Type A or Type B corporations. It was voted out favorably as substituted.

HIGHER EDUCATION:

Passed the House:

HB 14 by Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger) would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to establish a program to assist in the repayment of student loans for persons who are employed as peace officers by state agencies or political subdivisions. The committee substitute and one-floor amendment were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 128 to 10.

HB 80 by Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study to identify statewide and regional shortages in health professions. The committee substitute and one-floor amendment were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 126 to 8.

HB 766 by Dan Huberty (R-Humble) would add disabled firefighters to the tuition and fee exemption law exempting disabled peace officers and would require instead of allowing institutions of higher education to exempt them from tuition and fees. It passed the House by a vote of 132 to 3.

HB 1702 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would require a liaison officer to be designated by each institution of higher education to interact with students who were formerly in foster care. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 127 to 6.

HB 1735 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would require institutions of higher education to adopt a policy on sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking applicable to each student and employee of the institution. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 113 to 20. The companion, SB 585, was reported favorably as substituted from the Senate Higher Education Committee this week.

HB 1891 by Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger) would exempt students from the Texas Success Initiative assessment requirement in a content area if the student receives above a score set by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on a high school equivalency examination in that content area. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed by a vote of 136 to 0.

HB 2000 by Chris Turner (D-Burleson) would authorize the issuance of tuition revenue bonds for infrastructure at institutions of higher education. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 132 to 9.

PRIVACY:

Passed the House:               

HB 350 by Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would add a member who is an employee of the Election Division of the Secretary of State’s Office to the Cybersecurity Council. It passed the House by a vote of 144 to 1.

HB 883 by Shawn Thierry (D-Houston) would allow a court to increase the number of damages in a case where a person uses the Internet to obtain identifying information about an elderly individual (age 65 or older) for a fraudulent purpose. It passed the House on the Local & Consent Calendar.

HB 1421 by Celia Israel (D-Austin) would require voter registrars and county clerks to receive annual training on cybersecurity and would require a voter registrar or county clerk to immediately notify the secretary of state if the registrar or clerk becomes aware of a breach of cybersecurity that impacts election data. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 121 to 15.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

Passed the House:

HB 18 by Four Price (R-Amarillo) would add positive behavior interventions and support into each school district’s improvement plan; increase training and curriculum requirements on mental health issues, and expand school counseling programs for students with mental health conditions. The committee substitute and two-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 129 to 14.

HB 19 by Four Price (R-Amarillo) would require local mental health authorities to employ a non-physician mental health professional to serve as a mental health and substance use resource for school districts; and would require the authority to collaborate with local regional education service centers. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 127 to 19.

HB 55 by Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would limit the pre-kindergarten instructor/student ratio to 11-1 for classes of 16 students or more or at least one certified teacher or teacher’s aide per class for smaller classes. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 98 to 35.

HB 128 by Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) would require school districts to provide parents with a copy of the results of the physical fitness assessment of the parent’s child by the last day of the school year. The committee substitute and one-floor amendment were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 103 to 29.

HB 314 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would allow compensatory education allotment funding to be used to provide child-care services or assistance with child-care expenses for students at risk of dropping out of school. It passed the House by a vote of 83 to 46.

HB 455 by Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require the Texas Education Agency to develop model policies on the recess period during the school day that encourages constructive, age-appropriate outdoor playtime. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 95 to 48.

HB 548 by Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would require school districts and charters to report truancy information through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS). The committee substitute and one-floor amendment were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 137 to 0.

HB 663 by Ken King (R-Canadian) would require the State Board of Education (SBOE) to review and revise the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to narrow the number and scope of student expectations for each subject and grade level; and would provide that for any biennium, the State Board of Education could only issue instructional materials proclamations in which the total estimated cost does not exceed 75 percent of the total amount used to fund technology and instructional materials in that biennium. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 115 to 32.

HB 684 by Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) would require school nurses and other school district employees to complete an agency-approved online course on managing students with seizures, seizure recognition, and related first aid.

HB 953 by Ken King (R-Canadian) would require charter schools to pay into the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. The committee substitute and one-floor amendment were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 144 to 0.

HB 1051 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would make an adult education program provided under a high school diploma and industry certification charter school a permanent program instead of a pilot program. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 129 to 13.

HB 1070 by Four Price (R-Amarillo) would require additional reporting regarding the number of school district employees receiving mental health first aid training. It passed the House by a vote of 139 to 8.

HB 1182 by Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) would require school districts to provide a one-half credit course in personal financial literacy that includes instruction on completing the application for federal student aid (current law requires school districts to offer it as an elective). The committee substitute and two-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 148 to 0. The companion, SB 686, was voted favorably as substituted from the Senate Education Committee this week.

HB 1639 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) would allow school districts to hold an election for its officers on the November uniform election date and to transition the terms of office to three- or four-year staggered terms. It passed the House on the Local & Consent Calendar.

HB 2984 by Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) would require kindergarten through 8th-grade TEKS to include coding, computer programming, computational thinking, and cybersecurity in the technology applications curriculum. It passed the House by a vote of 132 to 9.

HB 3217 by Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) would require the State Board of Educator Certification to provide for a minimum amount of field-based experience or internship to be included in the required credit hours needed for teacher certification. It passed the House by a vote of 143 to 0.

HB 3323 by DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne) would require school districts to post the district’s employment policy on the district’s Internet website. It passed the House by a vote of 136 to 1.

HB 3435 by Rhetta Andrews Bowers (D-Rowlett) would designate March 1st as Texas Girls in STEM Day to celebrate and encourage the participation of girls in the fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It passed the House on the Local & Consent Calendar.

Passed the Senate:

SB 54 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would exempt a student in a regional day school program for the deaf whose parent does not reside in the school district from the district’s accountability rating classification. The committee substitute and one-floor amendment were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

SB 251 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would allow public junior colleges to enter into an agreement to provide dual credit courses with any school district located in a county in the service area of the junior college or in an adjacent county in which all or part of a junior college service area is located. It passed the Senate on the Local & Uncontested calendar.

SB 811 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would provide immunity from liability for school districts and charters for any damages resulting from a reasonable action taken by security personnel to maintain the safety of the school campus. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 21 to 10.

SB 863 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would require the Texas Education Agency to conduct an ongoing study to examine costs associated with dual credit courses. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 1. The companion, HB 3055, has been reported favorably from the House Higher Education Committee.

SB 1114 by Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) would allow a school district to authorize the sale, at less than fair market value, or donate property held in trust for public school purposes to the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation or another nonprofit organization to develop affordable housing for school district personnel. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 24 to 7.

SB 1376 by Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) would expand the master teacher grant program from reading teachers only to include reading, mathematics, technology, and science teachers; and would make some other non-substantive changes in reporting requirements. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 30 to 0. The companion, HB 3638, was heard and left pending in the House Public Education Committee this week.

SB 1569 by Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) would prohibit school board members, school employees, or contractors of a school district from distributing a communication that advocates for or against a candidate, measure, political party or political philosophy. The committee substitute and two-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 22 to 9.

SB 1679 by Royce West (D-Dallas) would clarify that a child that is eligible for enrollment in a pre-kindergarten class at the age of three remains eligible for enrollment at the age of four. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate on the Local & Uncontested calendar.

SB 2018 by Royce West (D-Dallas) would abolish dissolution committees established to abolish county boards of education and transfer the duties to the commissioner’s court of the county in which the county board of education is located. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously. The companion, HB 3387, was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee this week.

SB 2073 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would require school districts that reduce the number of instruction days for students to give a corresponding reduction of teacher in-service days. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

SB 2180 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would require kindergarten through 8th-grade TEKS to include coding, computer programming, computational thinking, and cybersecurity in the technology applications curriculum. It would also require the Texas Education Agency to establish the Computer Science Strategic Advisory Committee to develop and provide recommendations for increasing computer science instruction and participation in public schools. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

SB 2244 by Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) would delete several Education Code provisions restricting access to electronic courses through the Virtual School Network. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 5.

Passed the Senate:

SB 2 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would be the Property Tax Reform & Relief Act of 2019. Three-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 18 to 12. The companion, HB 2, was on the House calendar for Monday, April 15, 2019, but was postponed to Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

SB 129 by Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would expand eligibility for the property tax exemption for surviving spouses of first responders who are killed in the line of duty to federal investigators including agents of the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, and Customs and Border Protection Officers. The committee substitute was adopted and passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 2.

SB 196 and SJR 47 by Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would propose a constitutional amendment broadening the 100 percent homestead property tax exemption for war widows by changing the term “killed in action” to “killed in the line of duty.” SB 196 and SJR 47 passed the Senate unanimously. The companions, HB 275 and HJR 23, have been set for a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday, April 25, 2019.

SB 579 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would provide an ad valorem tax exemption for property owned by the TexAmericas Center. It passed the Senate on the Local & Uncontested calendar. The companion, HB 2958, was voted favorably from the House Ways & Means Committee this week.

SB 1013 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would set the maximum penalty for filing a late application for a freeport exemption at 10 percent of the tax that would have been imposed without the exemption. It passed the Senate on the Local & Uncontested calendar. The companion, HB 3520, was heard and left pending in the House Ways & Means Committee this week.

SB 1772 and SJR 57 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would propose a constitutional amendment providing a temporary property tax exemption for property located in a declared disaster area that sustains at least 15 percent damage. They passed the Senate unanimously.