Legislative Session Summary
The 80th Regular Session of the Legislature staggered to its required final adjournment on May 28. The Session was marked by conflict, confusion, and a lack of cooperation. However, 1,495 bills and constitutional amendments were finally adopted and sent to the governor. As of press time, the governor still had several days until his June 17 deadline to sign or veto most of the bills. Subject to action by the governor, here is a summary of some important issues for counties:
Appraisal Caps and Revenue Caps
Both appraisal caps and revenue caps failed to pass. This is a major victory for counties and local budget control. While we were disappointed by the revenue caps passed by the Senate as sponsored by Sen. Eltife, strong leadership by Rep. Fred Hill and House Members prevented final approval of these proposals. Gov. Perry continues to support these unwise and unnecessary measures. It is time to thank our friends and continue to educate or replace those who urged these unwise policies.
HB 15 provides $5 million to partially reimburse counties for the unfunded, mandated cost of the May 12 constitutional amendment election. HB 556 will distribute these funds through the Secretary of State. Sen. Steve Ogden, Sen. Robert Duncan, Rep. Warren Chisum, Rep. Leo Berman, and especially Rep. Joe Heflin were invaluable contributors to this successful effort.
The fireworks industry and their lobbyists launched a full attack on counties this session. While we prevented their attempts to completely repeal all county fireworks authority, there were some changes. HB 11 defines the county authority to prohibit the sale, use or possession of fireworks under the Disaster Act. The authority of the county judge to ban all fireworks under the Disaster Act is limited to 60 hours. To extend the ban, the governor must authorize the continued ban. HB 539 prohibits the sale of bottle rockets; requires a drought index of 575 before the commissioners court can ban the sale of other missiles with sticks and fins; and provides a new period of fireworks sale from May 1