The 86th Legislative Session opened at the Texas Capitol on this month as lawmakers took their oaths of office, selected new leaders, and began to work on major priorities for the new session like school finance reform and property tax reform.The House of Representatives unanimously chose Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, as the chamber’s first new speaker in a decade. Speaker Bonnen set the tone by calling on lawmakers to avoid using limited time on “things that don’t lead to real results,” and instead focus on issues like rising property taxes, school finance reform and human trafficking. His priorities were echoed by Gov. Abbott, who called on the House to reform both school finance and property taxes later that day and expressed optimism that lawmakers would rise to the challenge.Texas’s top elected leaders – Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen – further drove home the themes of the session at a press conference Wednesday morning, laying out their shared priorities of property tax and school finance reform while projecting a commitment to unity. “If the three of us are aligned that we’re going to accomplish a mission and pass legislation, it happens,” Patrick said. “And if the three of us are aligned that something isn’t going to pass, it doesn’t happen. I think our members will take note that this is really unprecedented that we’re addressing the issues at the beginning of session, totally united with one another.”Governor Abbott also pointed to policy goals like rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, bolstering school safety, and increasing teacher pay in addition to previously-mentioned priorities.“Bottom line, there are a lot of challenges facing our fellow Texans. We are going to work together to work swiftly to make sure that we do the business of the people of Texas,” Abbott added. That task was made somewhat easier by Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s healthier-than-expected revenue outlook, forecasting about $119.1 billion in available state funds – about 8 percent more than was available in the last budget. However, the comptroller cautioned that uncertain energy and financial markets signal that the unusually strong revenue growth of recent months is unlikely to continue.
THLA Legislative Updates
THLA is hard at work this legislative session offering bills, tracking legislation, and advocating for our issues. You can follow along. We maintain active web pages about our issues and the bills we are tracking. And, we will be sending out legislative news via Industry Update and in separate email alerts.