Skip to main content

Legislative Session Update: Week 14

Published Apr 12, 2019 by Taylor Landin

During the 86th Legislative Session, the Partnership will provide a weekly update on our top executive priorities and other newsworthy items from Austin. 

This week in Austin there were a number of developments that could determine the trajectory of the remainder of the legislative session. After the House passed historic school finance reform legislation last week, the focus in Austin has shifted to the Senate Public Education Committee, which may take up the subject next week. Meanwhile, a proposal by state leadership to increase the state sales tax has introduced a new wrinkle into the discussion about how the state balances its investment in public education with property tax reform. With public school funding and property tax inextricably linked, the two highest profile issues of this session are set to dominate the coming weeks.
  
PARTNERSHIP EXECUTIVE PRIORITIES
FLOOD RESILIENCE

On Wednesday, the House voted on legislation related to disaster recovery, preparedness and future flood mitigation. The Partnership has been focused specifically on two bills. The first, HB 13, authored by Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and co-authored by 118 of his House colleagues, creates a $3.26 billion fund that would allow local communities to apply for state dollars to construct necessary flood mitigation projects and take full advantage of federal matching funds. HB 13 also requires regional cooperation among stakeholders to be eligible for the funds. HJR 4 is a constitutional amendment that allows the state to create the fund described in HB 13, and must be approved by voters. The bills were approved without opposition. While HB 13 and the Senate’s flood mitigation bill, Senate Bill 7 by Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), will need to be reconciled, the strong support for these House measures demonstrates the commitment of the Legislature to making disaster recovery and future flood mitigation a priority.
  
SCHOOL FINANCE REFORM
This week, the House and Senate continued negotiations on public school finance reform. Leadership in both chambers are working to reconcile differences in how to effectively address several issues: specific program funding, an across-the-board teacher pay raise, and school district property tax compression. While Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor and the committee members are expected to hear a school finance bill next week, details of the legislation are still being finalized. Proposals by both the House and Senate include $9 billion in new state funding, but there will be changes made to the substance of the legislation through a committee substitute.
  
WEEK IN REVIEW
Sales Tax

In addition to property tax reforms, legislators are discussing the possibility of reducing school property taxes in exchange for a sales tax increase. This approach is being introduced when negotiations on the most important issues are reaching critical points. The details are developing, but the essence of the proposal is to combine a sales tax swap with school finance and property tax reform as part of a broader package to meaningfully reduce local school property taxes. This proposal is not designed to raise new money for public education. Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and House Speaker Bonnen issued a joint statement Wednesday calling for a one cent sales tax increase to buy down local school property taxes. Other proposals have cited increasing the state sales tax by one percentage point, from 6.25% to 7.25%. The exact number could change as negotiations continue, and some proposals call for dedicating a portion of the sales tax revenue to a teacher pay raise. The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association estimates a one percent sales tax increase could reduce the average school property tax rate by $0.20 and account for approximately $5 billion per year.
  
Economic Development 
The House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 360 by Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston), which extends the Chapter 312 economic development program for 10 years. Chapter 312 allows cities and counties to provide tax exemptions or reductions. The House also passed House Bill 2129 by Representative Murphy, which extends Chapter 313, a similar program operated by school districts. The bills are now pending in the Senate and awaiting hearings in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development, chaired by Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury). 

Stay up-to-date with our Policy Team throughout the 86th Legislative Session by opting-in to this weekly update or follow the team on Twitter @GHP_Policy

Related News

Membership

Partnership Welcomes New and Continuing 2020 Board Members

1/23/20
Members of the Greater Houston Partnership voted to elect new members of the organization’s board of directors at its Annual Meeting held January 22. The Partnership's 120+ member board guides the work of the Partnership and is comprised of leaders from across Houston's business community. The event also marked the first official meeting of the Partnership's 2020 chair Bobby Tudor, Chairman, Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. LLC. At the meeting, Tudor announced the nomination of Amy Chronis Managing Partner, Deloitte as Vice Chair and Secretary for 2020 and 2021 chair. This nomination was also approved by the membership. Outgoing chair Scott McClelland received the Bob Onstead award for his service in 2019. In addition to the election of new board members, several former board members were approved for continuing their service on the board. For a recap of the Annual Meeting, click here. 2020 New and Continuing Board Members Gwenelle Avice-Huet, CEO, Engie Marc Boom, M.D., President and CEO, Houston Methodist Bob Borochoff, President and CEO, Café Adobe Denis Braham, Chairman Emeritus, Winstead PC Downey Bridgwater, President, Houston Market, Comerica Bank Brook Brookshire, Chief Executive Officer, S & B Engineers and Constructors, Ltd. Jay Brown, President and CEO, Crown Castle International Corp. Brian Coffman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Motiva Enterprises LLC Roberto Contreras, CEO, St. Christopher Holdings Heidi Cruz, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs & Co. David Dickson, President and CEO, McDermott Jack Fusco, President and CEO, Cheniere Energy Roland Garcia, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP Greg C. Garland, Chairman and CEO, Phillips 66 William T. Harris, President and CEO, Space Center Houston Reggie Hedgebeth, SVP General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Marathon Oil Corporation Earl Hesterberg, Jr., President & CEO, Group 1 Automotive Inc. John B. (Thad) Hill, III, President and CEO, Calpine Corporation Rebeca A. Huddle, Partner, Baker Botts LLP Tandra Jackson, Managing Partner, Houston Office, KPMG LLP John Johnson, President, Silver Eagle Distributors Houston Courtney Johnson Rose, CEO, George Johnson Development, Inc. Mark Kelly, Chairman, Vinson & Elkins LLP Nataly Marks, Managing Director/Region Manager/Commercial Bank, JPMorgan Chase Ralph Martinez, Regional Senior Vice President, Comcast Wayne McConnell, Managing Partner, McConnell Jones Lanier  Mark Medici, President, Houston Chronicle Hong Ogle, President, Houston Market, Bank of America Jim Postl, Owner, James J. Postl Interests Jean-Francois Poupeau, Executive Vice President, Corp. Development, Schlumberger Jodie Probst, Managing Partner, PwC Steven Retzloff, Chairman, Allegiance Bank Tom Rourick, Office Managing Partner, RSM US LLP Werner Schaefer, VP/GM Network Platform & Communications, Intel Michael Scheurich, CEO, Arch-Con Scott Silvas, Texas Market President, Fifth Third Commercial Bank Bobby Springer, Vice President and General Manager, KHOU-TV LP Steve Stephens, CEO, Amegy Bank Bill Strait, Houston Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP Cindy Taylor, President and CEO, Oil States International Inc. Andy Waite, Co-President, SCF Partners Dick Weekley, Chairman, Weekley Development Company Welcome W. Wilson, Jr., President and CEO, Welcome Group LLC Director Emeritus Eduardo Aguirre, Chairman, Atlantic Partners Group, LLC A full list of Partnership Board of Directors can be found here. 
Read More
Membership

Partnership Comments on Flood Infrastructure Fund Rulemaking

1/17/20
Last week, the Greater Houston Partnership submitted a public comment concerning the Texas Water Development Board’s rules for funding of flood mitigation projects by the newly-created Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). This fund was created during the 86th Texas Legislative Session through the passage of Senate Bill 7 and the accompanying $793 million contained in Senate Bill 500 for the fund. The Partnership, with the expertise of the Infrastructure and Resiliency Advisory Committee chaired by Steve Clarke, was fortunate to provide substantial input into the creation of Senate Bill 7 and strongly supported the passage of the FIF’s enabling constitutional amendment in November.  As local and federal efforts to improve our region’s flood mitigation infrastructure are underway, the Partnership looks forward to the forthcoming investments from the state that are needed to mitigate future flood risks. That work continues with the implementation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund. Before funds can be spent, the Texas Water Development Board will complete a rulemaking process and seek the public’s input through an open public comment period on the fund’s implementation. The Partnership reviewed the proposed rules and then submitted public comments to maximize and expedite the investments and impacts from the FIF. The Partnership’s comments are specific and targeted to improve the implementation of the program, including clarifying language, application and financing requirements. They can be found here.  For more information about Senate Bill 7 and the Flood Infrastructure Fund, click here. For more information about the Partnership’s Infrastructure and Resiliency Advisory Committee, click here.  
Read More

Related Events

Public Policy

Washington D.C. Fly-In

Join us in Washington, D.C. for the Greater Houston Partnership's 2020 D.C. Fly-In This two-day event will bring together members of Congress, the White House, federal agencies, and key stakeholders with…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners