Capital update

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As heavy showers and severe weather continue to stir around the East Texas area, I want to encourage you and your family to take the proper precautions to ensure your safety. If you haven't already, have a discussion about where to seek shelter in the event of a tornado, and make sure you have plenty of supplies like bottled water and batteries should your water or electricity be affected by inclement weather. Simple precautionary steps such as these can make a real difference in the midst and aftermath of severe weather.

With that, here's an update from your State Capitol. . .

Legislative Update

This week the Texas House passed a historic property tax reform bill that seeks to combat out of control property taxes, while increasing transparency in a process that has historically discouraged taxpayers from getting involved in the tax-rate setting process. In addition to empowering taxpayers with additional information and more opportunities to weigh in with local governments, the bill also works in tandem with the school finance bill that passed earlier in the legislative session to provide property tax relief. The Legislature has recognized how hard it can be for every day Texans to live in their own homes, and I'm proud of the solutions we've found to address one of the top issues that Texas property owners have asked their legislators to fix. The differences between the House and Senate property tax bills, as well as the differences in each school finance bill, will now be debated by representatives of each chamber in a conference committee. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm hopeful that we will be able to work out these differences to ensure that we deliver on the commitment we've made to bring meaningful change to the property tax system in Texas.

I want to take this opportunity to provide some information about how the legislative process will change as we enter the final stretch of this legislative session. As you may remember from previous columns, every piece of legislation must be voted four times -- in a House Committee, on the House Floor, in a Senate Committee, and again on the Senate Floor -- before the bill is sent to the Governor's desk for ultimate approval. After the 60th day of session, legislation is passed from chamber to chamber for consideration. However, after the 122nd day of Session (May 9th for this session), the House must cease consideration of House bills and may only consider Senate bills. Thus, if a House Bill has yet to be voted out of the House by May 9th, the bill will effectively be dead. While this process was put in place to ensure greater cooperation between the two chambers, Legislators will soon find themselves in a sprint towards the finish line of the 140-day marathon, which ends May 27th.

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