Special session ends abruptly, with key issue unresolved


The special session of the Legislature came to an abrupt end Tuesday night, a day earlier than expected, when the Texas Senate adjourned without acting on a House-passed version of a property tax bill.

The House began the late-session drama when it unexpectedly closed the special session with one item pending — a conference committee on Senate Bill 1, which would have required larger cities and counties to get voter approval for property tax increases.

Senate Republicans wanted automatic elections for increases of 4 percent or more. The House settled on a 6 percent trigger, and by adjourning early, House leaders told the Senate to take the 6 percent rate or leave it.

Later Tuesday night, the Senate chose to leave it.

RELATED: A fiery Dan Patrick lashes out at Speaker Straus

“Some days the Texas Capitol does not recognize the obvious, and that’s what happened today,” said Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, author of SB 1. “We are not going to accept the take-it-or-leave it proposal from the House and we are going to fight another day.”

Bettencourt blamed the House for putting the Senate in the position of having to reject SB 1 for failure to provide needed property tax relief. But Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said meaningful relief will not happen until the state pays a larger share of public school funding — the largest portion of Texans’ property tax bills.

“Let’s not ignore the responsibility the state has in funding our public school system,” Hinojosa said.

Even with a 4 percent rollback rate, “you still have a heck of a problem with school finances,” said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.

In the end, Bettencourt predicted that “Texas taxpayers will be furious” by the Legislature’s failure to address property taxes with SB 1.

“I hope the governor calls us back as soon as possible” for another special session, he said.

For his part, Gov. Greg Abbott was silent on the session’s end. He signed three bills on Tuesday, bringing the total number of special session bills he’s signed to five. Four more bills await his signature, including a House measure relating to tree regulations on private property that’s a far cry from what he demanded and similar to a bill he vetoed in June. The only other bill to reach his desk relating to reining in municipal powers was one that restricts the annexation authority of cities in large counties.

Likewise, lawmakers didn’t pass bills restricting transgender bathroom use, an emphasis of social conservatives, or limiting state spending, a cause of fiscal conservatives.

Abbott has asked lawmakers to pass bills related to 20 issues. Just nine and a half of those reached his desk.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

North Carolina deputies find nearly $91 million of liquid meth on truck
North Carolina deputies find nearly $91 million of liquid meth on truck

Deputies in North Carolina on Saturday seized a tractor-trailer containing $90.8 million worth of liquid methamphetamine in the driver's side fuel tank, WTVD reported. Raul Topete Arreola, 49, and Aquileo Perez Pineda, 48, were charged with three counts of trafficking methamphetamine, according to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies...
25 people in New York City hospitalized for synthetic marijuana overdoses
25 people in New York City hospitalized for synthetic marijuana overdoses

Twenty-five people in New York City were hospitalized Saturday night after apparently having a negative reaction to synthetic marijuana, WABC reported. Lt. Paul Ng of the New York Police Department said that the drug, known as K2, was taken by people in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. They were taken to the hospital after reports of...
Tornado warning in Williamson County; thunderstorms in Austin forecast
Tornado warning in Williamson County; thunderstorms in Austin forecast

Sunday forecast in Austin: A tornado warning in Williamson County is in effect until 9 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. Showers and thunderstorms, with “new rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible” also are in the forecast for the Austin area. Expect a high of 88, south southeast winds moving 10 mph...
Police: Massachusetts man arrested for allegedly hitting dog with baseball bat
Police: Massachusetts man arrested for allegedly hitting dog with baseball bat

A Massachusetts man was arrested Friday for allegedly abusing a dog with a baseball bat. Gregory Ostiguy, 50, of New Bedford, was arrested by Dartmouth Police and charged with animal cruelty. Police responded to a report of animal abuse at around 6:50 p.m. on Friday. After an investigation, police determined that Ostiguy did in fact...
SWAT callout to Fairmont Austin is resolved peacefully, police say
SWAT callout to Fairmont Austin is resolved peacefully, police say

SWAT officers were dispatched to the Fairmont Austin hotel, 101 Red River Street, about 7:15 a.m. Sunday in response to reports of an ‘armed barricaded’ person. The situation was resolved peacefully shortly after 8 a.m., police said.
More Stories