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Bay Area Houston Guidry News Gazette
Forum
What’s Up in Austin?
by Cheryl E. Johnson, RTA, Galveston County Tax Assessor Collector
Sunday, March 03, 2013

Participating in various activities at the Texas Capitol has been a common practice for me over the last nine years and this is no different.  The 83rd Legislative Session is well underway and you should expect to see news on matters of great consequence in coming months such as health care, school funding and gun reform. 

Much of my effort has been on less noticeable legislative changes that directly affect your property taxes and voter registration.  Some are Texas sized reforms while others are minor improvements that will have significant impact.  All are listed below:

Property Taxes 

  • Allow disabled vets to make installment payment (HB 1110 filed)
  • Reduce appraisal limit to 5% and extend to all ‘real’ property (HB 1338/HJR 84 filed)
  • Allow low interest rate pay agreements by tax collector (SB 476 pending in committee, HB 1597 filed)
  • Allow tax offices to accept courier (Fed Ex, UPS, etc.) ship dates for timely payment (HB 1060 filed
  • Allow senior & disabled installments even when first payment is late (HB 1059 filed
  • Change items needed to prove residency for a homestead exemption (drafted)
  • Limit sales by appraisal district to two years (drafted)
  • Junior colleges as voting members of CADs (SB 359 passed out of committee, HB 1478 filed)
  • Price paid as basis for taxes—no more value increases (drafted)
  • Allow election to consolidate tax functions (drafted)
  • Elect county appraisal district board of directors (drafted)
  • Reduce interest on tax deferrals (drafted)
  • Require ISDs to prove benefit of in-house tax collections (drafted)
  • Simplify collection of auto dealer inventory taxes (drafted)
  • Simplify Truth in Taxation (obtaining statewide input on proposal)

Voter Registration

  • Extend date to canvass election to allow proof of application by voters (drafted)Mail voter cards in even numbered years (drafted)
  • Require consent of tax collector and county clerk if county changes to election administrator (drafted)
  • Define residency for voter registration (HB 966 filed)
  • Eliminate volunteer registrar program or substantially change (drafted)
  • Allow electronic requests for replacement voter certificates (drafted)

Appropriations Request

The results of the recent Valero lawsuit raised new concerns for local governments and taxpayers.  Petrochemical industries for years have outmaneuvered appraisal districts and in counties such as Galveston, millions have been expended in futile attempts to defend assessed values in the courts.  With values lowered on major industrial properties, the rest of us have had to make up the shortfall in revenues.

A proposal has been presented that the Legislature fund an effort to insure the proper valuation of Texas’ industrial properties.  The proposal, as drafted, could end the legal disputes and provide confidence that the rest of us are not paying more than our fair share.

Whatever your interest, get involved.  The Texas Legislative website is very informative.  Remember too, when it comes to politics, if you aren’t at the table, you may end up on the menu, so get involved!




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