At the Capitol: 86th legislative session continues in March with bills on teacher pay raises, property tax revenue caps

The 86th session of the Texas Legislature convened Jan. 8.n

The 86th session of the Texas Legislature convened Jan. 8.n

Compiled by Ayan Mittra with the Texas Tribune

During the third month of the 2019 state legislative session, bills on issues such as teacher pay raises and a cap on property tax revenue have moved to the full Senate for a vote.

Education


Teacher pay has emerged as a major sticking point between the two chambers, with the Senate passing a $5,000 across-the-board raise and the House calling for increasing benefits and minimum salaries.

The Texas Senate education chairman has unveiled a sweeping school safety measure that touches on strengthening school security, “hardening” school infrastructure and mental health counseling.

Property Taxes


A Senate committee has passed Senate Bill 2, which would require an election when local governments want to collect an additional 2.5 percent or more in tax revenue from existing properties, regardless of the total taxable value assigned to properties.

State budget


A panel of House budget writers gave initial approval March 18 to a budget that would spend $115 billion in state funds, including a $9 billion infusion of new funds for Texas public schools and property tax relief. The measure will head to the full 150-member House in late March, after this paper’s
print deadline.

Hurricane Harvey


State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, authored Senate Bill 7, which relates to flood-control planning and mitigation. The bill passed unanimously March 20 along with Senate Bill 6 and Senate Bill 8 as part of a multibillion dollar package to address Hurricane Harvey recovery. The bill will next head to the House for consideration.

New legislation would require sellers of residential properties to notify buyers if a property is located in a flood-prone area and whether it has previously flooded.

State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, authored House Bill 911, which would create a Lake Houston watershed commission that would provide the pubic with streamlined communication and cooperation in flood-control planning. As of March 19, the bill is pending in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Public safety


Gov. Greg Abbott has prioritized making it harder for dangerous defendants to get out of jail. Other lawmakers hope to make it easier for people accused of nonviolent crimes to get out of jail.

Health care


Amid uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act, state legislators will tackle a variety of issues—from abortion to mental health to opioid abuse to funding for Medicaid—during the legislative session.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, are pushing legislation that would ban emergency care providers from sending surprise bills to patients covered by state-regulated plans.

Other issues


State Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, is a co-sponsor on House Bill 1598, which would require the secretary of Homeland Security to issue a strategy to improve hiring and retention of U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel in rural or remote areas. The bill was introduced to the House March 7, and Crenshaw became a co-sponsor for the bill on March 13.

The Texas Senate has advanced a bill that prevents cities from requiring paid sick leave for their employees. Senate Bill 15 would prevent individual cities and counties from adopting local ordinances related to employment leave, paid days off for holidays and, most notably, sick days.

Additional reporting by Kelly Schafler 


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