Archive for February, 2015

Texas Senators Unveil Texas Senate Taxpayer Relief Act

February 24, 2015


AUSTIN – Today, flanked by a dozen Senators, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick introduced Finance Chair, Senator Jane Nelson, and Senator Charles Schwertner, who unveiled a major tax relief package that will keep the Texas economy leading the nation and provide long overdue tax relief to Texas taxpayers.

“I am pleased to support one of the largest and most significant tax relief packages in the history of Texas,” said Patrick. “These reforms will provide immediate and lasting economic relief to both homeowners and businesses. I worked closely with Senator Nelson and Senator Schwertner over the last four months and I appreciate their leadership on this issue.

“At the end of the day, the Texas economy stays strong if people have more money in their pocket and if businesses have more money to create jobs.”

The tax relief package includes several pieces of legislation that will:

A proposed constitutional amendment will also protect homeowners by permanently banning any tax on the conveyance of real property (SB 1 & SJR- Nelson).

Patrick added, “This is the Senators bill and Senators Senate. I’m proud to say this legislative package already has bipartisan support and 24 Senators have signed on their support.”

In response to this announcement, Bill Hammond, CEO, Texas Association of Business said, “The Texas Association of Business and the business community praise Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson for a plan to cut taxes that will help both homeowners and businesses throughout the state. We feel this is a strong starting point.”

Will Newton, Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/Texas said, “We salute Lt. Governor Patrick and the Senate authors of this package of legislation, and specifically the small business tax relief act.

ing property and small business owners alike with more opportunity for capital reinvestment. As we have stated before NFIB/Texas supports full repeal of the franchise tax, but will also support any and all legislation that works to reform the tax and raise the exemption threshold, concluded Newton.

(512) 463-0715

Representative Shaheen fights for removal of tolls from Collin County roads

February 23, 2015

By Rep. Matt Shaheen

AUSTIN, TX — On behalf of Collin County drivers and taxpayers, State Representative Matt Shaheen filed House Bill 1734. The bill requires toll road entities such as the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) to relinquish tolled highways to the state highway system and remove any tolls once the toll revenue bonds for the projects are paid in full. Speaking to Collin County drivers, Representative Shaheen said, “HB 1734 returns tolling to its traditional purpose: a temporary funding mechanism that is removed once the roads are fully paid-off. We cannot allow the toll fees for roads we use every day to become a de facto tax into perpetuity.” The bill would also prohibit tolling entities from altering any finance agreements in a way that would extend the amount of time until full payment.

Christopher Paxton
(512) 463-0594

Representative Kenneth Sheets Files Roofing Contractor Consumer Protection Act

February 20, 2015

By Rep. Kenneth Sheets

AUSTIN, TX – This week, State Representative Kenneth Sheets filed legislation to protect consumers from unscrupulous roofing contractors. House Bill 1488, known as the Roofing Contractor Consumer Protection Act, establishes a voluntary roofing contractor registration program with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). Under the bill, roofing contractors installing replacement roofs in Texas would have the option to register with TDI, placing them in a state-wide database maintained by the TDI.

“Texas property owners face some of the highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation, in large part because of the unique weather risks faced by the state,” Rep. Sheets said, “Sadly, the problem of severe weather is made worse by the influx of contractors to an affected area that are either unable or unwilling to perform quality work. Poor work causes more severe and frequent property claims for homeowners, which then leads to higher insurance rates.”

In addition to the creation of the state-wide database, H.B. 1488 tightens existing law by prohibiting all roofing contractors, regardless of their participation in the statewide registration, from rebating consumer insurance deductibles and requires disclosure to consumers the status of their liability insurance coverage.

“More often than not, the bad actors in the industry are not bonded or insured, leaving the homeowner without any recourse for work that is incomplete or improperly installed,” Rep. Sheets said. “A common sense disclosure requirement coupled with a voluntary registration database will provide consumers more tools to protect their properties from those who seek to take advantage of a catastrophe.”

Dustin Meador
(512) 463-0244

Rep. Molly S. White Files Coerced Abortion Prevention Bill to Protect Pregnant Women

February 19, 2015

By Rep. Molly White

Legislation to stop coerced abortions is being passed across the United States. 20 states have enacted anti-coercion laws: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

HB 1648, by Rep. Molly S. White, addresses the problem that over half the abortions in the United States are coerced. The bill will protect pregnant minors and adult women from coerced abortions by:

1) Requiring the abortionist and abortion clinic staff to screen for coercion.
2) Requiring the abortion clinic to post signs about coerced abortion.
3) Providing women who indicate that they are suffering abuse or who are victims of coercion with access to a private room with a confidential phone line and a directory of law enforcement, help hotlines, and assistance programs to help protect her from the coercive situation.

HB 1648, the Coerced Abortion Prevention bill, gives women freedom, protection, resources and the legal framework to protect them from an unwanted abortion.

Rep. Molly S. White’s personal experience with abortion and her subsequent pro-life work has put her in contact with many women who had been denied the right to give birth, and propelled her to address this injustice against pregnant women.

“The Coerced Abortion Prevention Bill” will protect women who are trafficked and forced to abort by their traffickers,” said Rep. Molly White.

The bill is a response to several studies that reveal a common element in the lives of women who abort –coercion. A 1986 survey found that 53% of 252 post-abortive women said they were forced to undergo an abortion. The Medical College of Ohio conducted a study where one-third of the women reported that they were coerced to undergo an abortion. In 1992, a study of the psychological consequences of abortion found up to 60% of abortions in America are coerced.

As further witness, Dallas DPS Captain Jeff Williams testified to the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking that he had personally rescued victims of human trafficking who had been coerced into abortions in order to keep them working as sex slaves.

HB 1648, the Coerced Abortion Prevention bill, will enable Texas to join other states in protecting pregnant women and addressing the issues associated with human trafficking.

Hannah Bell
(512) 463-0630

Representative Frank Files Budget Consistency Bill

February 18, 2015

By Rep. James Frank

Today, State Representative James Frank (Wichita Falls) filed HB 1592 to ensure that financial information presented by the Legislative Budget Board for budget purposes is consistently prepared over time.

One of the most important informational tools for legislators are the historical comparisons between bienniums in the budget. Currently, there is no requirement that this information be presented consistently by taking into account changes in accounting methods or assumptions. This bill would require the LBB to incorporate current accounting method changes to previous bienniums when comparing different budgets.

“Publicly traded companies are required by law to restate prior years when they change accounting methods because failure to do so is misleading to those reading financial statements,” Rep. Frank said. “As legislators, we should hold ourselves to the same standard.”

Consistent representation of budget information helps legislators to make the best decisions when facing difficult choices on budget priorities and budget growth. Requiring that new changes to factors that comprise a budget are accounted for in previous budgets would help to ensure meaningful comparisons and, thus, better decisions.

“I have had discussions with House Leadership, and there is agreement that it is time to change certain long-time budget practices. Structural changes like this one in HB 1592 help the Legislature create a better budget,” Rep. Frank said.

Jim Johnson
(512) 463-0534

Texas Central Rail to Use Utility Corridor

February 17, 2015

By Rep. Will Metcalf

Great News for Montgomery County – But There is More Work to be Done

AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Central Rail (TCR) announced their plans to use the Utility Corridor as their route for the proposed High Speed Railway project.

This statement comes at the onset of the Texas House’s 84th Legislative Session, an important time for residents of Montgomery County as House Representative Will Metcalf works to appease concerns regarding eminent domain issues along the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway lines (BNSF).

While this is great news for the citizens of Montgomery County, House Representative Will Metcalf continues to push against the High Speed Railway project in its entirety. “We need more roads for citizens to travel to ease our existing roadways. We do not need a High Speed Railway in Texas that will only benefit a few, while at the same time disturbing thousands of citizens within its path.”

State Representative James White Hosts Article V Convention Press Conference; Assigned to Caucus Policy Committee

February 13, 2015

By Rep. James White

Austin, TX – With committee assignments being distributed amongst the members the prior week, the 84th Legislature convened Monday to begin referring the filed bills to their respective committees. As committee staff began to gear up to act upon the referred legislation, our office is hard at work preparing to request committee hearings for our conservative legislation.

I was honored to host several board members from Sam Houston Electric Co-Op (SHECO) and the Jasper-Newton Electric Co-Op. These two entities are continuously providing jobs and innovating the energy industry in our area which will assist in supercharging our Southeast Texas economy. I am looking forward to working with these two companies this session on improving the energy industry in Southeast Texas.

The House adjourned on Wednesday in memory of Dycin, Koltyn, Kyi’Leigh and Haven Loftin. This is a tragic loss for Spurger and the County of Tyler. I send my deepest condolences to their family.

Following the adjournment on Wednesday, I hosted a press conference with Representatives Paul Workman, Phil King, and Rick Miller over our legislative initiatives related to an Article V Convention of States. This legislative agenda will allow the State’s to exercise their Constitutional authority in order to reign in the excessive debt, spending, and regulation that negatively impact the Southeast Texas economy and way of life. Article V allows for the states to propose amendments to the Constitution upon a convention called by the United States Congress. The bill I am carrying, House Bill 1109, condenses the process for application and sets the guidelines for an Article V convention. I am excited to begin the constitutional conservative Article V process, as the end result will put more power back in the hands of the states of the people of Texas.

Thursday morning in the Texas House Caucus, I was nominated to serve on the Policy Committee. This vital position within the caucus is one that analyzes filed legislation and sends recommendations to the caucus. This helps members keep track of and informs members of conservative legislation that they should be aware of and possibly support when a vote is brought to the floor. More important, serving on the Caucus Policy Committee will provide me another opportunity to have a conservative impact on legislation and promote conservative Southeast Texas interests and values. For instance, a member from North Texas has filed a bill (HB 1153) to take away our Southeast Texas junior water rights! It is important that I play a vital role in the Caucus and educate from other parts of Texas about honoring Southeast Texas property and water rights.

Maria Lewis-Hudson, of Newton, stopped by my office advocating for Texas Career and Technical Month. Maria is the state president of the Future Business Leaders of America, which is a high school organization that helps students prepare for careers in business and business related fields. I was very proud to have her stop by my office; in our talk I learned about her future college plans and see a bright future for her. I am confident that God will continue to guide her path and look forward to seeing her progress.

February 12th was the 2015 Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Day at the Capitol. I had the opportunity to meet with CASA volunteers from House District 19, Natalie Thornton and David and Dickie Henderson, from Polk and Hardin Counties, respectively. Their passion and work advocating for neglected children makes me proud to represent them.

The House stands adjourned until Monday at 2 p.m.

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