On June 6, Gov. Greg Abbott called for a special session for state lawmakers to address legislation which failed to pass during the regular 85th session that ended on Memorial Day. Among the 19 items are property tax reform, regulating bathroom usage based on biological gender, and school finance reform. The special session begins July 19.
Oak Ridge North officials also named items, such as tree ordinances and property tax reform, that will be discussed during the special session that will affect the city. Legislation regarding electrical permit fees was already passed in the legislative session and was also named as a burden to the city.
"We made it through the regular legislative session by the skin of our teeth without any horrible legislation," city manager Vicky Rudy said. "One thing that did get through is we are being stripped of our electrical permit fee. The owner has to get a building permit and the electrician is now exempt from fees. That doesn’t pay for [the city] going out and doing inspections. The state is finding every way to limit our revenue and control."
Rudy encouraged council members to put together letters showing what the city does and does not support—a suggestion also welcomed by Mayor Jim Kuykendall.
"Seventy-four percent of Texans live in small towns," Kuykendall said. "[The state] wants to limit [annual] property tax increases to 4 percent, which would hurt 1,125 small towns in Texas. It could bankrupt cities. That legislation was introduced by people who represent us. So that's one thing we need to lobby against. I would like to see us put together some sample letters of what this council deems necessary."
Kuykendall said with other items, such as tree ordinances or electrical permit fees, the state of Texas is taking rights away from the citizens of Oak Ridge North.
"When you talk about taking electrical inspections, taking tree rights from a city and giving it to the state, you’re centralizing the government in the state," he said. "They don’t know what the citizens of Oak Ridge North need or want."