Columns/Opinions

Thu
09
May

Property tax reform bill goes to conference committee

May 5, 1994

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on May 1 passed Senate Bill 2, legislation proposing to bring property tax relief to homeowners, but the lower house slowed the bill’s momentum by tacking on 25 floor amendments.

If finally passed in the coming days, the legislation would lower the rollback rate for most local taxing authorities from 8 percent to 3.5 percent and 2 percent for school districts. The bill also allows local option elections on proposals to exceed rollback rates.

SB 2, like House Bill 1, the state budget bill, is now in the hands of a conference committee of five House members and five Senate members tasked with producing a final, agreed-to version. Meanwhile, all eyes are on the calendar and the clock as constitutional deadlines set in and the May 27 end of the session grows near.

 

 

Thu
02
May

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

Students across the state are counting down the days until they are out of their classrooms and can begin their summer vacations. In an almost identical countdown, legislators are marking the days left until the end of session. As I write this column, we have 25 days left till the end of the 86th Legislative Session.

Here are five things happening at your Capitol this week:

1. School Safety Bill

Thu
02
May

Top issues remain in play as Legislature enters final month

AUSTIN — Only a month is left for lawmakers to get the state’s business done in the 86th regular session of the Texas Legislature.

Still unfinished are the issues at the top of a list shared by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen: the passage of a state budget for fiscal years 2020-2021, property tax reform and school finance reform.

Thu
25
Apr

Conference committee to work out differences in state budget

 

AUSTIN — After Easter weekend, conferees for the Texas House and Senate must work out differences in the two chambers’ versions of a fiscal 2020-2021 state budget to send to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Concurrence is required on how to spend an estimated $250 billion in revenue available to fund the state’s fiscal years 2020-2021. Once an agreement has been reached, the budget bill will be subject to an up or down vote in each chamber before it is forwarded to the governor’s office for final approval.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen on April 15 named five House members to a conference committee tasked with negotiating an agreement. He chose House Appropriations Committee Chair John Zerwas, R-Richmond; and Reps. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood; Sarah Davis, R-West University Place; Oscar Longoria, D-Mission; and Armando Walle, D-Houston.

 

 

Thu
25
Apr

Famous barnstormer forgot to pack parachute

Texas History

By Bartee Haile

Ignoring an old friend’s foreboding premonition, Bessie Coleman took her stunt plane for a test spin prior to a Florida air show on Apr. 30, 1926. But the safetyconscious barnstormer somehow forgot to pack a parachute.

“Brave Bessie” was born in 1893 less than a dozen miles from the Arkansas border in the northeast Texas community of Atlanta. Her father, who was threequarters Cherokee, returned to his reservation roots around 1900, and her mother, strong-willed daughter of a freed slave, settled at Waxahachie south of Dallas.

Even though four offspring had died in childhood and five had left home, Susan Coleman still had four hungry mouths to feed. Life was a day-to-day struggle, as she took in washing and little Bessie and a sister picked cotton, but no one missed a meal in the loving home.

 

 

Thu
18
Apr

Goliad survivor runs for his life for weeks

Texas History

By Bartee Haile

While Texans were fighting the final battle for their independence on Apr. 21, 1836, a survivor of the Goliad Massacre was spending his twenty-first day on the run.

Twenty year old John Crittenden Duval and his older brother Burr were members of the large Kentucky contingent that answered the Texans’ appeal in the early stage of the Revolution. When Col. James Fannin surrendered over the objections of his officers on Mar. 20, 1836, the Duvals were among the hundreds of volunteers who fell into enemy hands.

A week later on Palm Sunday morning, the prisoners were relieved to learn of their impending departure. Most had bitterly denounced Fannin for accepting the Mexicans’ pledge of repatriation in return for his capitulation, but now it looked like they were going home, after all.

 

 

Thu
18
Apr

Top officeholders join together in push for funding solution

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on April 10 released a joint statement promoting a twofold method for the 86th Texas Legislature to curb property tax increases across the state.

“Texans are fed up with skyrocketing property taxes. At the beginning of the legislative session, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker laid out an agenda for property tax relief through the passage of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2 to limit property tax growth,” the state’s top officeholders said.

Thu
11
Apr

House passes legislation to reform school finance, property taxes

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on April 3 approved muchanticipated legislation written to revise the state’s public school finance system. The vote was 148-1, and the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 3 would increase pay for public school classroom teachers, librarians and other fulltime personnel and also would enable property tax relief. Primarily authored by House Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty, R-Houston, joint authors include Reps. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio; John Zerwas, R-Richmond; Ken King, R-Canadian; and Alma Allen, D-Houston.

 

 

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Thu
11
Apr

“The Whirlwind” rid Rio Grande of raiders

Texas History

By Bartee Haile

Board rooms resembIn a joint resolution on Apr. 11, 1882, the Texas legislature praised Lt. John Lapham Bullis for his heroic service “in behalf of the people of the frontier of this State, in repelling the depredations of Indians and other enemies of the frontier of Texas.”

Bullis was born and raised in western New York not far from the shores of Lake Ontario. His Quaker upbringing in that serene setting did not prepare him for the Civil War or years of fighting raiders along the Rio Grande.

 

 

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Wed
10
Apr

The Road to No More Victims

My son Dustin had unforgettable, fiery red hair and a huge, goofy grin. He loved to make people laugh. One summer night shortly after graduating high school, Dustin got a ride with a 19-year-old driver who had alcohol and drugs in her system.

Seat-belted and sober, Dustin was riding in the back seat when the driver lost control of the car, ran into an embankment and launched the car into a river. The driver and front seat passenger escaped. Dustin could not, and he drowned.

As the immediate past president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), I represent hundreds of thousands of people like me whose lives have been tragically, irreversibly changed by someone else’s decision to drive while impaired. To end impaired driving, we need to talk about it, and since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, there’s no better time to have this discussion.

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