The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters, chaired by Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), will be hearing testimony on two restrictive revenue cap bills — SB 102 and SB 144 — at 9 a.m. Monday, March 25, in Room E1.036 of the Capitol Extension. These bills diminish local control by setting strict standards that take the decision-making process out of the hands of locally-elected commissioners courts regarding tax rates.
SB 102 by Senator Patrick (R-Houston) seeks to lower the revenue cap (rollback rate) from the current 8 percent level to a 5 percent level. Under SB 102, any tax rate that the governing body seeks to adopt that would exceed the 5 percent rollback rate would trigger an expensive automatic rollback election. Current law requires a petition process to call for an election to rollback a tax rate that exceeds the revenue cap.
SB 144 by Senator Williams (R-The Woodlands) seeks to reduce the current 8 percent rollback rate on counties to 5 percent, except under a very limited set of circumstances in which the local governing body would have to go through a series of procedures to raise the rollback rate to 8 percent. The limited circumstances that would allow a higher than 5 percent rollback rate include instances when the county is located in an area declared a disaster by the governor or president, or if the commissioners court finds the higher rate necessary for the protection of public safety.
Other Detrimental Bills :
Internet Broadcast of Meetings: H.B. 889 (Fallon) would require a city with a population of more than 50,000 to broadcast each regularly-scheduled open meeting over the Internet and make archived video and audio of those meetings available. Hearing in House Technology set for 2:00 p.m. or adjournment of the House on March 25 in E2.010.
Regulation of Oil and Gas Wells: H.B. 1496 (Taylor) would essentially render a city’s ordinance regulating oil and gas wells unenforceable. Hearing in House Land and Resource Management set for 2:00 p.m. or adjournment of the House on March 25 in E2.016.
Disannexation: H.B. 1477 (Callegari) would make it easier for a landowner to require a city to disannex property for services-related issues. Hearing in House Land and Resource Management set for 2:00 p.m. or adjournment of the House on March 25 in E2.016.
Tree Removal: H.B. 1358 (Workman) would provide that the owner of a tree who believes that the tree poses a fire risk can cut it down, and that a city ordinance prohibiting the cutting is unenforceable. Hearing in House Business and Industry set for 1:30 p.m. or adjournment of the House on March 26 in E2.014.
Information submitted by Legislative Committee and TML.