Property tax bill sent to full senate
Capping the size of property tax increases may become law after Senate Bill 2 — also known as the 2019 Property Tax Reform and Relief Act — was passed by the Senate Committee on Property Tax on Monday.
More than 100 people testified on the bill which now heads to the full Texas Senate for consideration.
According to Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), “The testimony was clear as ordinary Texans turned out from across the state to testify for property tax reform and relief. …
“In fact, our major amendment, allowing Texans to opt-in to vote for a lower ‘rollback rate,’ now known as the ‘voter approved rate,’ was requested by many from rural and smaller towns across Texas that testified. In fact, no private citizen testified against SB2, only those who were elected officials or taxpayer funded lobbyists spoke against,” Bettencourt said.
As an example of those who could benefit from the bill, Bettencourt used fellow Sen. Pete Flores’ experience.
“Sen. Flores’ escrow account went up $900 per month because of higher taxes, even he worries he can’t keep his home because of rising property taxes,” Bettencourt said.
Flores is a freshman Republican senator from Pleasanton, south of San Antonio. He is not a committee member.
Before a 4-0 vote — with one “present” vote from Sen. Juan Hinosa — members of the committee approved 15 amendments to SB2, which were mostly technical corrections.
Among the items in the nearly 100-page bill are provisions relating to transparency, appraisal review board requirements and automatic triggers for rollback elections. The proposed rollback rate is 2.5 percent, which will require voter permission to set a tax rate increase that exceeds that number. An amendment to the bill would change the name of “rollback rate” to “voter-approved rate” to help taxpayers better understand what it means.
One amendment would allow smaller entities to hold elections to determine if voters want to put the limits on their governments. If a city or village collects less than $15 million in combined sales and property tax revenue, voters would be asked whether they want the taxing authority to fall under the provisions of SB 2.
Making its way through the House and currently in the House Ways and Means Committee is the identical HB 2, sponsored by State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock).