This report will partially recap the 86th session of the Texas Legislature having four months behind us and one month remaining. At this point, not all of the governor’s priorities have been met nor have all of the top five Republican Party of Texas priorities.

It appears that the Governors Tax Reform and Relief is moving along and we will see some legislation passed here. The reform will lower the trigger for an election from 8% to 2.5-3%. What this means is that under current law, cities, counties and school districts can raise tax appraisals by 8% without requiring an election allowing the voters a chance to say “yes” or “no.” The new law will lower the percentage forcing a vote at somewhere between 2.5% and 3%. This is not yet set in stone and very well could change by the time this report goes to press. The relief looks like it will come in the form of a swap. The sales tax may be increased by 1% and those dollars collected will replace property taxes dollar for dollar so there is no actual gain or loss in taxes, only a transfer from one tax source to the other. Also valuation may be changed from the so called market value to the actual purchase price of the property. Lastly we may see some additional exemptions for the elderly as many of the older folks are being forced to sell their homes because their property taxes are out growing their fixed incomes. This is the right thing to do. No one should be taxed out of their home, especially the elderly. The real solution to taxes is to require our elected officials to spend our money wisely and reasonably, realizing they can not have everything they want.

Constitutional Carry was a huge heated topic and now seems to be DOA, dead but not gone. Sixteen States have now passed Constitutional Carry and this will continue to rise from the ashes, maybe not this session but the next.

The abolition of Abortion does not look like it will pass this session either, however some very good bills restricting the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions and criminalizing the actions of doctors after botched abortions may make it to the governor’s desk.

Taxpayer funded lobbying started out like a rocket but has slowed. My suspicions are that your tax dollars via the lobbyist are ending up in some legislators’ campaign funds. I’ll leave my thoughts there on that subject, but this war is not over either.

My personal favorite bill ending forced annexation looks very much like it will not only pass but pass by a 2/3 majority making it go into effect immediately, giving every Texas property owner the right to vote on being annexed or not being annexed.

Lastly, a few really horrible bills are probably going to pass. One is so bad that the Senate voted to temporarily overturn the rules and voted four times to pass this legislation without any public input. Known as SB 10, it gives the public school system in association with college level psychiatry students the ability to determine the mental health of children without any parental input. Right or wrong, children will be tagged as mentally deficient for the rest of their lives without recourse or judicial determination. This bill also dumps another $200 million into school systems, which will balloon as time goes on.

One other contentious bill that seemed to be going well but has now slowed called to reduce or eliminate the criminal penalty for less than one ounce of marijuana. This bill was supported by the Republican Party, not because we think pot smoking is OK but because we don’t like to see our young people tagged with a felony conviction for a little mistake for the remainder of their lives.

At the end of the month, we will know what new laws we have in Texas. We will have our opinions on good and bad laws. We will possibly have the governor call a special session if he feels there is more work to do. I had hoped for more but may have to settle for less remembering that the 87th session is just two short years away.

Terry Harper is a longtime Guadalupe County resident and lifelong conservative.

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