Spring in Texas means flowers, taxes

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There's something special about springtime in Texas. From ballparks and bluebonnets, to the smell of freshly cut grass just before an April shower; the tug on a line from a spawning largemouth, or the gobble of an old tom strutting confidently through a field.

The sights, sounds, and smells of springtime in Texas serve as a special reminder of how blessed we are to live in a state that cherishes being outdoors. In the weeks ahead, I hope you and your family will spend some time outside to soak in this magnificent season. God bless springtime in Texas.

Another part of the spring season, not only in Texas, but across the country, is the arrival of Tax Day. As all of you know, April 17 is the deadline to file your tax returns for 2018. In the spirit of tax season, I felt it would be appropriate to give you some information on the committee that deals with taxes at the state and local level.

Ways and Means

Next up on our list of interim committees is the Committee on Ways & Means. This 11-member committee oversees all legislation dealing with revenue and taxes at the state and local level. While this committee has jurisdiction over a wide variety of specific issues, the committee spends a significant amount of time studying property taxes.

Ways and Means, like many other committees, has recently focused a great deal on the effects of Hurricane Harvey. As you know, this devastating natural disaster has caused significant damage to the homes and property of countless Texans.

As such, the Ways and Means committee has been charged with reviewing the impact Hurricane Harvey has had on state and local taxes, and examining the need for and feasibility of requiring reappraisal of the property affected by large-scale disasters such as Harvey.

The committee must then identify improvements to the tax-rate-setting process to ensure that the state is doing everything in its power to not only assist in the rebuilding process, but also set the tone for how we can mitigate the negative impacts of these disasters in the future.

The committee has also been charged with reviewing the property tax system and identifying improvements relating to: transparency and communications with taxpayers; the tax-rate-setting process; the training and expertise required of appraisal review board members; appraisal review board composition, structure, and process; and the appeals of appraisal review board members.

If you've been keeping up with my columns, you know that I firmly believe the best way to true and meaningful property tax relief is by properly funding public education in Texas. Investment in our teachers, students, and public education system as a whole must be paramount in any discussion relating to property taxes or education.

That said, I believe, and would support, any measure that helps increase accountability and transparency through the appraisal process to ensure that we, as taxpayers, are given a fair shake. I look forward to monitoring and reviewing the findings of this committee as they look into creative solutions to this complicated issue.

Reminders

The mobile office is on the road for the month of April and looks forward to seeing you in the following locations, on the following dates: April 18 from 9-11 a.m. at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett, or from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton; finally, on April 25 from 9-11 a.m. at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.

Trent Ashby represents District 57, which includes Madison County, in the Texas Legislature.

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