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April 17, 2019      10:29 PM

Texas House Transportation Committee kicks out ban on red light cameras by Rep. Stickland

Another carrot to Stickland from leadership? Chairman Canales had indicated just last week the bill may be dead. Passed it out tonight 9-3 with Chair Canales voting "no" along with Bernal and Martinez

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April 17, 2019      6:57 PM

Updated: Chair Huberty proposes additional sales tax revenue should buy down property taxes and supplement public ed

The Texas GOP and Senate Property Tax Chairman Paul Bettencourt have serious reservations; Chair Huberty says “It’s our responsibility to be able to go through this without litigation. And the bottom line is Texans are tired of their property taxes funding the biggest portion of the education budget.”

The Republican Party of Texas still has reservations about the sales tax-property tax swap presented by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood, during House Ways & Means this morning.

Terry Holcomb of the State Republican Executive Committee testified on, rather than in support, of the bill.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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April 17, 2019      6:48 PM

With speculation mounting he will join Trump Administration, Lt. Gov. Patrick ramps up PR effort on border

U.S. Senate aspirant Joaquin Castro and Lt. Gov. Patrick face off in dueling press conferences at the Texas Capitol

With more and more people in the Texas Capitol community hoping Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will receive a plum appointment in the Trump Administration – and pulling for him to get it – the Senate’s presiding officer faced off with Democrats in dueling press conferences today about the president’s signature issue: Border security.

Both press conferences, held minutes apart in the Senate Press Room, focused on the recently-passed resolution passed in the upper chamber along party lines declaring an “emergency” along the state’s border with its number one trading partner.

The Democrats went first, but organized their news conference as a response to the Republicans led by Patrick, who has denied he has any interest in going to DC.

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By James Russell and Andrew Turner

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April 17, 2019      4:04 PM

Empower Texans sues Chairman Geren over denial of House media credentials

Federal lawsuit accuses Administration Chairman of "viewpoint discrimination" when issuing media credentials for House proceedings. The Senate now has its own process, issued credentials to Empower Texans for this session

Via reporter Asher Price in the Austin American Statesman:

A prominent conservative political group is suing a Republican member of the Texas House, claiming that he unfairly denied the group a media credential.

In a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Austin, Empower Texans accuses Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, chairman of the Committee on House Administration, of “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination” and the trampling of free speech and free press rights.

...Geren, whose committee oversees the distribution of media credentials (for the House, the Senate has its own process), told the American-Statesman he had no comment on the lawsuit.

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April 17, 2019      2:50 PM

No Senate Democrats named to budget conference committee

Conferees are Chair Nelson, Taylor, Kolkhorst, Nichols and Huffman

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April 16, 2019      6:10 PM

Texas House passes Born Alive Protection Act

With Rep. Davis of Harris in the chair, the House passes the bill to 3rd reading on a vote of 93 to 1 no and 50 PNV. Chair Dutton voted no

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April 16, 2019      5:18 PM

Senate Finance hears bipartisan reform of nursing home financing

Some nursing homes say they can “no longer compete with fast food restaurants and local convenience stores”

A bill aimed to increase the quality of Texas’ nursing homes was in the Senate Finance Committee this week. Senate Bill 1050, called the Texas Nursing Home Quality Act, by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, increases funding for the state’s nursing home facilities.

Texas nursing home care is the worst in the nation, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, due to chronic underfunding and a high staff turnover rate.

“This bill creates a method of finance that allows Texas to draw down federal dollars directed to nursing home care and ties all the funding to improving quality outcomes,” Sen. Hughes said.

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By James Russell

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April 16, 2019      11:19 AM

Property Tax Chairman Bettencourt expresses deep reservations about tax swap

In an interview with KFYO Radio in Lubbock, Chair Bettencourt says there is not appetite in the Senate for the increase to buy down property taxes

Via KFYO in Lubbock:

In an apparent split from the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker, Bettencourt came out against raising the sales tax and said that he did not see a "tremendous appetite" in the Texas Senate for approving an increase in the sales tax. Bettencourt wants to know if every dollar would going to go to tax relief and "I haven't heard that yet".

Bettencourt told Hasty, "whether it's income tax, property tax, sales tax, or whatever tax, I'm not voting for an increase". Bettencourt continued to say that a tax swap is not currently a popular idea in the Texas Senate, "tax swaps got us into trouble ten years ago when we swapped out property tax relief for the franchise tax".

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April 15, 2019      2:47 PM

GOP leadership to meet with major contributors today to shore up funding for Texas House incumbents

Abbott, Patrick, and Bonnen looking for as much as roughly $14 million, we are told, including funding for a GOTV effort for potentially threatened House incumbents

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen plan to convene a meeting of roughly 25 major GOP donors later today, around 5pm, to make an appeal for millions including funding for a GOTV effort for Texas House candidates during the 2020 election.

They’re looking for commitments of as much as about $14 million, QR learned Monday afternoon.

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By Scott Braddock

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April 15, 2019      2:36 PM

HB2 again postponed, this time until Wednesday

Chair Burrows says "it looks like we're waiting on the Senate bill."

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April 15, 2019      11:59 AM

Sen. Seliger votes with the rest of the Senate GOP to suspend and move SB2 to the floor

Seliger says it would be unconscionable to invoke the nuclear option and "discredit the body." He voted to suspend and will vote "no" on the bill

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April 15, 2019      11:00 AM

Floor sub for SB2 increases rollback rate for cities and counties to 3.5%, keeps schools at 2.5%

Here are significant changes to SB 2 under the floor substitute:

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April 15, 2019      9:41 AM

SB: The Senators' Senate

Patrick pledges allegiance to the Texas Senate as senators prepare to burn it down at his behest; as divisive a figure as he is, Patrick should neither be given credit nor receive blame for what may happen on the floor this week

Time and again since the beginning of the session, when he was notably absent, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has answered questions about a possible jump to the Trump Administration – as DHS Secretary or something else – by saying that he already has the best job in government he is ever going to have.

This past week, he went so far as to tell our friend Chad Hasty of KFYO Radio in Lubbock that he’s already announcing his bid for reelection in 2022. The promises, though, rang hollow to Texas Capitol observers on the eve of Patrick’s plan to invoke the “nuclear option” to pass Senate Bill 2, the property tax “reform” legislation, by first moving the “blocker bills” out of the way with a simple majority.

One GOP senator on Thursday admitted that at least four Republicans were not yet willing to go along with the plan, under consideration since February, which is why it didn’t happen last week or sooner. But now at least one top Republican is privately saying they do have 18 votes, more than enough even with a lone GOP holdout, to move the “blocker bills” ending decades of Senate tradition.

To be clear, Patrick is operating within the rules and not changing them as some have reported.

This is brute force not craftiness.

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By Scott Braddock

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April 15, 2019      9:23 AM

HB3, school finance, pushed back to next week, per sources

After Lt. Gov. Patrick talked about putting ISD rollback rates at 2.5% into HB3, it's suddenly off the agenda for Senate Education tomorrow and may come up next Tuesday, April 23

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April 13, 2019      6:39 PM

Despite promise of forced vote, Patrick may still be one vote short of nuclear option for Senate Bill 2

Stuck at 15 votes? The situation is in flux this weekend as Patrick lobbies GOP members to support moving blocker bills to then take up SB2 on Monday

The Texas Senate’s presiding officer is working this weekend to make good on his promise of throwing out the chamber’s traditions on Monday so that he can pass the session’s signature bill on property tax “reform,” SB2.

GOP senators held a conference call this afternoon at 3pm, Quorum Report has learned, though it was not clear whether Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was invited to be on the call.

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By Scott Braddock

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April 12, 2019      4:21 PM

Patrick confirms he will move blocker bills Monday to pass SB 2

Via Carlos Sanchez at Texas Monthly:

The move has Democratic senators scrambling to fashion a response and has some Republicans concerned about the precedent that the move could set. Senators said they intend to work throughout the weekend to fashion a bill acceptable to both parties and thereby avoid the nuclear option.

The move was later confirmed by the Dallas Morning News.

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April 12, 2019      12:00 PM

People on the Move

Some aggravation over budget conferees, key appointments, and some awards

Remember when this session was about tax reform and relief? “Well, now it’s about raising sales taxes,” said a longtime lobbyist, amused at the Gordian knot the leadership has now created for themselves.  

So, we’ll come back to all that next week. Maybe Monday, though some veteran lawmakers said there’s no way the Texas House will be ready to vote on HB2 after the weekend. Who knows? Too many variables. That’s why we come to work every day.

Meantime, there are key appointments, some lobby news and awards to tell you about. Send us your career news anytime to ksbraddock@gmail.com and put POTM in the subject line if you can.

Many thanks.

Here’s this week’s People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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April 12, 2019      11:55 AM

Greenfield: Breaking down the numbers on the property tax sales tax swap

Economist Dr. Stuart Greenfield notes that “this policy would increase taxes for 80 percent of Texas households, reducing taxes only for those with income above $146,000”

For the last decade, conservative groups have actively campaigned to replace the state’s property tax with an increased sales tax. 

On April 10, the state’s troika announced that legislation would be introduced to ask voters to approve increasing the state’s sales tax by one percentage point to 7.25 percent.

The increase in sales tax receipts would be used to reduce local school district property taxes by a comparable amount.

The complete column by Dr. Stuart Greenfield is in the R&D Department.

By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

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April 11, 2019      4:20 PM

HK: Tax Meltdown, over promising impossible solutions at session opening comes home to roost

Political malpractice 101 –Springing a tax bill on members 47 days before sine die

Somewhere in the mists of the last decade, Governor Rick Perry proposed a sweeping tax reform that had very little advance work done to it. Then-State Rep. Jim Keffer agreed to take up the bill so it could at least have a vote. The bill worked its way through the process, never coming close to a critical mass of support. When the bill finally came up for a vote, Keffer at the front mike told the Speaker, “Show the author voting no.” If memory serves, the vote against the Perry plan was unanimous.

This was not a singular event.

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By Harvey Kronberg

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April 11, 2019      3:43 PM

Texas House postpones HB 2 until Monday

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April 11, 2019      2:49 PM

House will not concur on changes to the budget, appoints conferees

Big cheers in the chamber when Chair Zerwas says the House does not concur with changes, conferees are Zerwas, Bonnen of Galveston, Davis of Harris, Longoria, Walle

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April 11, 2019      2:05 PM

SB: Property tax game of chicken unfolding at the Texas Capitol

Senate Democrats seem united in their opposition, for now, perhaps bringing it all down to Sen. Seliger though some other GOP holdouts may persist as well

As our publisher Mr. Kronberg has often said in similar situations, here’s what we think we know right now.

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By Scott Braddock

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April 11, 2019      12:32 PM

KR: Sales tax property tax swap

The sales tax swap that Patrick has supported in past sessions seems like the direct route to victory, especially when it’s tied to the completion of either Senate Bill 2 or House Bill 2

This idea of a sales tax-property tax swap isn’t new, but it could be new enough to buy the Republicans some political cover as they close in on passing priority legislation this session.

Everyone has a sidelines seat for this one.

And, depending on where you are sitting, this could just be the Hail Mary pass that is going to put the leadership over the goal line for this session. Or, from the other side of the stadium, it’s an acknowledgment that carving school districts out of the two property tax relief bills is a very bad idea.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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April 11, 2019      9:04 AM

Rumors abound Sen. Bettencourt will try to move SB2 on the Senate floor today

Usually reliable sources tell QR that House leadership may look to postpone HB2 until later in the day, at least until it becomes clear Bettencourt does not have the votes to move his own property tax plan. Sen. Perry said in an interview that it "could be" debated today

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April 10, 2019      7:37 PM

GOP support for outright ban on abortion apparently dropping as Rep. Tinderholt refuses to compromise

Sources tell QR tonight that Representatives James White, Steve Toth, and Phil King asked to take their names off the bill; Tinderholt refuses to take out criminal penalties for a woman who sought an abortion; Chair Leach stands firm the bill won't move with that in it Developing...

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April 10, 2019      4:40 PM

Abbott, Patrick, and Bonnen jointly propose increasing sales taxes to buy down property taxes

They now support raising the state's sales tax from 6.25% to 7.25% through a constitutional amendment *after* SB2 or HB2 is passed

As the Texas House is set to debate property taxes tomorrow, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen said they’ll support an increase in the state’s sales taxes if the additional revenue is used to buy down property taxes.

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April 10, 2019      4:34 PM

Audio: Speaker Bonnen expects a divided House in property tax debate

In an at times fiery interview, Bonnen took a shot at Chairman Tim Dunn’s Empower Texans and allied organizations: “It’s a shame that people have to make a living spreading lies and false things just so they can rally troops to raise money.”

After months of old school Senate-like comity in the Texas House, Speaker Dennis Bonnen this week suggested that he expects divisions to be revealed during the property tax debate on Thursday.

"I'd love it to (be unanimous) but I'd be quite surprised," Bonnen told Chad Hasty of Lubbock radio station KFYO, which is broadcasting from the Texas Capitol this week. Your editor appears on the Chad Hasty Show Mondays at 10, by the way.

Bonnen stopped short of predicting a unified GOP on the House floor when the final vote is taken. "Hopefully among Republicans it is,” he said during the interview in which he also critiqued Empower Texans and allied organizations.

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By Scott Braddock

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April 10, 2019      4:22 PM

After marathon hearing on abortion ban, Chairman Leach will have his resolve tested in political standoff with Tinderholt

Tinderholt surprised the committee by not offering compromise language; Chair Leach vows he will not vote out a bill that includes criminal penalties for women: “I don’t want those post-abortion recovery efforts to take place behind bars and that’s what I fear this bill does.”

In a marathon 11-hour hearing in the Texas House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jeff Leach, R-Plano, heard from hundreds of anti-abortion activists on Rep. Tony Tinderholt’s bill to ban abortion outright, HB 896.

The bill by Tinderholt, of Arlington, would expand the legal definition of murder to include a fetus at any point after conception and would expand the full legal penalties, including capital punishment, to those found guilty. That would include the woman who sought to terminate her pregnancy.

The bill was heard despite the fact that Chairman Leach, a staunch conservative, has vowed “no bill will move out of this committee that seeks to hold the woman either civilly or criminally liable.”

To be clear, Leach had said he would hold a hearing on pro-life bills when a hearing was requested, but there will be no votes on bills that hold women liable.

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By Andrew Turner

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April 10, 2019      4:20 PM

Bill to narrow the scope of Phil King's anti-boycott of Israel law draws heat

Rep. Wu says it's not about whether Texas supports Israel but whether lawmakers support the Constitution; King says the change is needed to allow individuals to exercise their right of free speech

A bill narrowing the scope of a law barring government contracts with businesses boycotting Israel passed in the Texas House today after a debate centered on its constitutionality.

House Bill 793 by Redistricting Committee Chairman Phil King, R-Weatherford, amends the law –– which King authored last session –– targeting companies engaged in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement of Israel.

Supporters say the BDS movement against Israel is meant to pressure the country to acknowledge Palestinians by suppressing their speech and occupying their territory. They equate it to the BDS movement against South Africa in the 1990s. Some opponents say the movement is anti-Semitic.

Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, and other Democrats peppered Chairman King with questions.

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By James Russell

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April 10, 2019      11:35 AM

180 amendments pre-filed on HB2

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April 10, 2019      10:58 AM

Patrick off the Texas Senate floor today as he tours Texas with Trump

Patrick will be in Crosby, San Antonio, and Houston with the president, adding to speculation he will join the administration. Patrick has, of course, maintained that is not his intent

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