View May 2019 newsletter

Around the Texas Capitol: Lots of bills left but little time – Legislature to adjourn Monday 

By Shayne Woodard, J Pete Laney and Lauren Spreen
TAD Governmental Affairs

The Texas Legislature is in its home stretch…the 86thregular session will adjourn on Monday, May 27. There’s a lot to do between now and then, including coming to an agreement and passing three of the session’s top priorities: the state budget, school finance reform and property tax reform.

The Texas Tribune has described this last week as “Hell Week” because of the volume of bills expected to pass in the final days of session. According to their research, as of Friday, just over 5% of the 7,324 bills filed this session had passed and been sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for consideration. That statistic will jump significantly by adjournment. For example,18% of the filed bills were sent to the governor during the last legislative session, the Tribune reports.

With bills moving fast, and deadlines kicking in (see below), things are changing almost by the minute. Both the House and Senate are expected to meet every day (often late into the night) through Monday – no Memorial Day weekend off. While this report is an attempt to update you based on what’s happening NOW, it could all be different by the time you read this!

We’ll have a legislative session roundup for you in the June version of the Dairy Dispatch.

Speaking of the budget…

On May 14, Comptroller Glenn Hegar sent a letter to legislators increasing his revenue estimate for the biennium by $518 million. That means legislators have a little extra money to spend. Hegar’s letter said, “Based on changes in estimated revenue collections for this fiscal year, I am revising my projected ending balance of revenue for general purpose spending in the current biennium. This estimate does not account for any appropriations made by the 86th Legislature, nor does it make any adjustments for legislation that may affect revenue collections. Some of the increased revenue for fiscal 2019 is attributable to upwardly revised estimates of oil and natural gas production tax collections. Consequently, I now expect to transfer $1.67 billion each to the State Highway and Economic Stabilization funds (ESF) in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $266 million per fund from my previous estimate. I now expect the ESF balance to be $15.6 billion at the end of the 2020-21 biennium.”

This week

The Senate will take up HB 1743 by Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) and Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), which would reduce the amount of tax imposed when agricultural use valuation is converted to developed property from five to three years and the annual interest rate from seven to five percent.

The House will consider SB 1214 by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls), which would expand the sales tax exemption for agricultural-use aircraft to include any other use necessary to operate a business that performs an agriculture service such as crop dusting, predator control, and animal health inspection.

To see the full House and Senate Calendars for this week, click here.

Recent legislative activity

The House last week passed:

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved HB 644 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which would add pickled fruit or vegetables to the definition of cottage food production operations; and HB 1694 by Rep. Stan Lambert (R-Abilene) and Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas), which would add cottage food production operations to the definition of “food” allowing them to provide samples of food at a farm or farmers’ market without a permit.

Upcoming legislative deadlines

May 22 (Wednesday) – Last day for the House to consider local and consent Senate bills on Second and Third Reading and to consider all Third Reading Senate bills and Senate Joint Resolutions on the regular calendars. Last day for the Senate to consider all bills and joint resolutions on Second or Third Reading (135th Day).

May 23 (Thursday) – All Senate amendments must be distributed in the House before midnight due to the 24-hour layout rule (136th Day).

May 24 (Friday) – Last day for the House to act on Senate amendments. Senate copies of conference committee reports on tax, general appropriations and reapportionment bills must be printed and distributed before midnight due to the 48-hour lay-out rule (137th Day).

May 25 (Saturday) – In the House, all conference Committee reports must be printed and distributed by midnight due to the 24-hour layout rule. In the Senate, all conference committee reports must be printed and distributed (other than those required to be printed the 137th day) before midnight due to the 24-hour lay-out rule (138th Day).

May 26 (Sunday) – Last day for the House to adopt conference committee reports and to discharge conference committees and adopt Senate amendments. Last day for the Senate to adopt conference committee reports or concur in House amendments (139th Day).

May 27 (Monday) – Corrections only in the House and Senate. Last day of the session with midnight deadline to adjourn Sine Die (140th Day).

June 16 (Sunday) – (20th day following final adjournment of 86th Legislature, Regular Session) Last day the governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular session.