Budget helps state lower Property Taxes an average of 5.5% statewide, or $2.7 billion
By State Rep. Tan Parker
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — When the 86th Legislature convened for the first day of session on January 8, 2019, lawmakers were tasked with addressing numerous challenges facing our state: School Finance Reform, Property Tax Reform, and Improved Emergency Preparedness in response to Hurricane Harvey – just to name a few. Numerous bills were filed during the Legislative Session, including many that may have flown under the radar, but will significantly improve a number of issues you encounter frequently in your daily lives.
As your state representative, I am humbled and grateful that I had the opportunity to represent House District 63 throughout these critical discussions. As the 86th Legislature adjourned on Monday, May 27th, I’d like to provide you with some of the highlights from this session.
Providing a Balanced Budget
The House passed House Bill 1 – a fiscally conservative, balanced budget that addresses the critical priorities of Texas while staying below the Constitutional Spending Limits.
This budget prioritizes our state’s most pressing needs, while protecting the taxpayers who shoulder the burden every day. I am especially proud of our ability to come together to invest in public education, offer additional property tax relief, and fund issues such as school safety.
With this budget, the state is lowering School District Property Taxes by an average of 5.5% statewide, or $2.7 billion. Every Texan will see a permanent property tax rate reduction and the bill provides the option to lower property taxes further in the future.
As you may know, providing meaningful property tax reform was a top priority for the 86th Legislative Session. Many of you reached out to my Capitol office to express your concerns about rising property tax rates.
To address this critical issue, the House passed Senate Bill 2, also known as the “Texas Taxpayer Transparency Act,” which requires every homeowner to receive notification when their local government wants to raise their property taxes. Taxpayers will now have a voice when taxes are raised above 3.5% for counties and municipalities, or 2.5% by school districts due to an election being required by this legislation.
Each homeowner will be notified and informed about exactly when and where they can go to have their voices heard regarding proposed tax increases.
School Finance Reform
Coupled with HB 1 and SB 2, House Bill 3 provides an increase in per-student funding, teacher pay raises, and a large reduction in the “Robin Hood” program.
I was proud to co-author HB 3, also known as “The Texas Plan,” which provides $6.5 billion to improve public education and pay teachers, plus $5.1 billion to lower school district taxes.
This will allow our Texas schools greater flexibility to meet the unique needs of their classrooms, students, and teachers.
Additionally, this legislation increases the state’s share of education funding to reduce the burden of property owners, providing a combined total of $5 billion in property tax relief.
In order to protect Texas taxpayers and defend the unborn, Senate Bill 22 ensures that no taxpayer dollars are used to fund abortion providers. While measures have passed in each of the last several legislative sessions to prevent state funds from going to the abortion industry, the existing prohibitions do not impact transactions made by political subdivisions at every level of government.
SB 22 prohibits government entities at the state and local level from entering into a taxpayer funded transaction or contract with abortion providers. Taxpayers who oppose abortion should not have to see their tax dollars subsidizing the abortion industry, and I was proud to support SB 22 to ensure this never occurs.
Additionally, I co-authored House Bill 16, also known as the Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. Currently, state law is unclear regarding the standards of care that are required for a baby born alive after an abortion. HB 16 addresses this issue by establishing a physician-patient relationship between a baby born alive after an abortion and the physician who performed the abortion, establishing the standard of care for these cases.
I was proud to partner with Senator Charles Perry and Representative Matt Krause to address long-standing concerns with the treatment that medically fragile children in Texas receive. SB 1207 was a pioneering breakthrough to assist these medically fragile children and their families and improve their quality of life. This bill, I pray, will save and protect the lives of countless medically fragile children. Our work in this area is not complete, but we now have the momentum we need to build upon this legislation in the future, and I’m very proud of the work we were able to accomplish this session.
Protecting Religious Freedoms
Many of you reached out to my Capitol office to support the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, which was filed in response to the City of San Antonio barring Chick-fil-A from opening a location in their airport. This legislation would prohibit adverse actions by government against individuals expressing their strongly held beliefs and convictions.
Although the U.S. and Texas Constitutions afford all Americans the First Amendment right to freely hold and express their religious beliefs, governmental entities have increasingly undermined these rights by denying contracts, loans, licenses, or employment opportunities simply because of one’s affiliation with a religious organization.
To address this issue, Senate Bill 1978 prohibits governmental entities from discriminating and taking adverse action against persons or businesses based on their affiliation with a religious organization. I was proud to co-author this critical legislation, as it protects the First Amendment right of all Texans to support religious organizations of their choosing, without fear that it could impact their ability to work for or do business with governmental entities.
Supporting Law Enforcement
As you know, our peace officers put their lives on the line every day to keep Texas communities safe. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a shortage of Texans joining law enforcement and that puts everyone at risk. This session, the Texas House sought to provide the resources needed to attract the best law enforcement candidates.
Senate Bill 16, creates a student loan repayment assistance program for future peace officers, with hopes that it will assist in addressing the growing shortage of officers across the state. I was happy to support this legislation, which will attract more individuals to a career in law enforcement and enable them to provide for their families as they risk their lives to protect our safety.
My House District 63 Legislative Highlights
Survivors Day – HB 2298
- This bill designated January 28th as Sexual Assault Survivors Day in Texas. Texas has done great work in strengthening our laws and locking up perpetrators, but if we are not shining a light and creating a pathway of hope and open conversation for affected individuals, then we are not fulfilling our mission.
- My hope is that this legislation will continue to bring awareness to this horrific issue while also celebrating the incredible strength, perseverance, and courage of individuals that have been impacted by sexual assault as survivors, rather than victims.
Adult Stem Cell Treatments – HB 3148
- In the 85th Legislative Session I authored House Bill 810, also known as Charlie’s Law, to allow patients suffering from chronic disease and terminal illness to access the life-saving benefits of adult stem cell treatments. Since the successful passage of Charlie’s Law in 2017, both patients and providers have requested further clarification as to the administration of adult stem cell treatments.
- HB 3148 clarifies that while the executive commissioner of HHSC has rule making authority over this section, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is in charge of overseeing the implementation of this legislation.
- It will also open up the qualifications regarding Investigational Review Boards (IRBs) so that they are more accessible across the state.
- Additionally, in order to better ensure the safety of qualifying individuals who seek out adult stem cell treatments, this legislation allows the agency to be able to inspect investigational stem cell treatments that are considered to be adulterated or misbranded.
With Food Allergies – HB 2555:
- HB 2555 aims to update the Texas Department of
State Health Services Guidelines for the Care of Students with Food Allergies
At-Risk for Anaphylaxis to include food allergy management best practices and
new FDA-approved methods, treatments, and therapies to reduce the risk of
- The Senate companion of this bill, SB 869, passed both the House and the Senate and
awaits the Governor’s signature.
Cancer Clinical Trials –
- HB 3147 provides greater access to Cancer Clinical Trials in Texas. It clarifies that nonprofit organizations may provide reimbursement for patients’ travel expenses through a cancer clinical trial program.
- This will enable more patients battling cancer, who are also facing significant monetary barriers, to participate in potentially life-saving trials. Additionally, it allows the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to allocate from their existing funds to reimburse cancer clinical trial patients’ travel expenses.
Pay for Success
Contracts – HB 982
- A “Pay for Success Contract” is an innovative financing program gaining popularity across the nation that allows government to partner with private investors and service providers in delivering necessary public services.
- HB 982 allows the Pay for Success Trust Fund to consist of dollars not only appropriated by the legislature, but also money gifted, granted or donated from the private sector. I believe that pay for success contracts are an extremely valuable tool in Texas.
- This legislation will give our state agencies increased bandwidth to ensure that new programs are created and proven, modern day techniques are utilized.
Arrangements for Medicaid – HB 3707
- The Senate companion of this bill, SB 1780, was sent to the Governor on May 17th. This
bill will allow the Health and Human Services Commission to enter into a
value-based arrangement for the Medicaid vendor drug program.
- Such a value-based arrangement might include a
rebate, a discount, a price reduction, a contribution, risk sharing, a
reimbursement, payment deferral or installment payments, a guarantee, patient
care, shared savings payments, withholds, a bonus, or any other thing of
value. This bill provides a cost-savings opportunity for both the patients
and for Texas taxpayers.
Agreements – HB 985
- This legislation prohibits a public contract
involving state resources to be awarded based upon any requirements or
preferences one way or the other on the issue of organized labor. All
across the nation, project labor agreements are commonly being used to force
public work contracts to solely be awarded to companies who use a unionized
workforce. These types of agreements are popular among those who would want to
limit competition by narrowing the number of construction companies who can bid
on a project.
- HB 985 simply says to leave the issue of
organized labor out of the equation and focus on those aspects of a bid that
are most directly related to product quality. This legislation is about
fairness, leveling the playing field in awarding public contracts with state
resources, and protecting competition in Texas.
Medical Needs of
Children in the State’s Care – SB 195
- I was happy to sponsor SB 195 (by Senator Perry), which requires the Department of Family & Protective Services to collect and track data in the Information Management Protective Adults and Children in Texas System, also known as IMPACT, related to children affected by alcohol and substance abuse at no additional cost to the state.
- This bill is important because it is imperative that we know the medical needs of our children in state and foster care, and it is crucial that these records be maintained and provided to prospective adoptive parents.
Denton County Medical
Examiner – HB 3716
- Current law requires counties with a population
of more than one million, that do not have a reputable medical school, to
establish their own Medical Examiner. For rapidly-growing counties, this
requirement could be extremely costly. For example, Denton County is
rapidly approaching a population of one million, and if they were required to
establish their own Medical Examiner, it would initially cost approximately
four million dollars.
- To address this issue, House Bill 3176 amended
the statutory requirement for counties to establish a medical examiner by
increasing the population bracket from one million to two million, and strikes
the requirement for a reputable medical school to be located within the county.
Denton County Road
Illumination – HB 3714
- Currently, Denton County has certain county
roadways, which have been deemed to be unsafe and poorly lit. In in attempt to
rectify the problems for the safety of the citizens, the county moved to fix
these roadway lighting issues, but found that current statute prohibits a
county from doing so.
- House Bill 3417 resolved this issue by granting Denton County the authority to establish street lights along county roads within unincorporated areas.
86th Legislative Session Bill Statistics
• House & Senate Bills Filed: 7,324
• Bills Sent to the Governor: 1,052
• House & Senate Joint Resolutions Filed: 217
• House & Senate Joint Resolutions Filed with Secretary of State: 6
Bills that passed both the House and the Senate were sent to the Governor for him to sign, veto, or allow to become law without his signature. Sunday, June 16th – the 20th day following final adjournment of the 86th Regular Session – is the last day the Governor can sign or veto bills passed during the 86th Regular Session. Joint Resolutions that passed both chambers of the Legislature were filed with the Secretary of State and will be on the ballot for the November 5, 2019 election.
In The District: Flower Mound Named One of America’s Happiest Towns!
I was proud to learn that Flower Mound was named the second “Happiest Small Town in America,” according to a recent study. The report states:
“Flower Mound ranks high on the happiness quotient both in Texas and nationally.
“It is considered one of the safest cities in Texas and boasts of having a vibrant cultural and food scene. A healthy real estate market and umpteen new constructions have made the area one of the most coveted places for home ownership.”
If I can ever be of service to you as your State Representative, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol Office at 512-463-0688, or by email to Tan.Parker@House.Texas.Gov. As always, I welcome your input, and your feedback.
It is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives.
State Representative State Representative Tan Parker represents Texas House District 63. Parker resides in Flower Mound, Texas with his wife, Beth, and their two daughters.
Source: Texas Politics