Dueling tax proposals in the Lege
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The Texas House passed a bill promising $17 billion in tax relief, a measure that is at odds with the Senate’s tax break plan, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The House bill would lower by half a home’s cap on appraisal increases. It passed overwhelmingly, 141-9. However, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said that body will not approve it, preferring its plan to raise property exemptions from $40,000 to $70,000.
In a press conference held Thursday, Patrick reiterated his opposition, saying appraisal caps do not have much effect on property tax bills.
“So let me be very clear, I’ve said before this session, I’ve said it at the beginning of session, I’ve said recently, you don’t negotiate on bad math,” Patrick said.
House Speaker Dade Phelan took a less confrontational stand.
“I think we need to do what’s best for all Texans, and that is sit down and hammer out a compromise,” Phelan said in part. “We are ready, willing and able to do it in the Texas House.”
Parental book bill passes the Senate
The Texas Senate passed a bill last week that would require schools to inform parents of all books their children check out of school libraries, The Dallas Morning News reported. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, said she sponsored the bill after being contacted about sexually explicit materials in school libraries.
“I cannot unsee what I saw,” Paxton said on the Senate floor. “More importantly, a child cannot unsee sexually explicit materials, and this certainly shouldn’t happen in a school library, of all places.”
Critics say the bill could lead to politicized book bans and undermine the work of librarians. It requires school boards to create local library advisory panels made up mainly of parents.
The bill now heads to the Texas House for consideration.
Drought conditions expand in Central,
Warmer temperatures and less rain in March expanded drought conditions throughout the central and western parts of the state, hydrologist Dr. Mark Wentzel of the Texas Water Development Board reported. More than two-thirds of the state is affected by drought, up five percentage points from the previous month. The exception is in the eastern portion of Texas, which is now drought free.
The La Niña weather system, which is at least partially responsible for drought conditions in the state for the past two-and-a-half years, is predicted to give way by fall to El Niño conditions, which tend to be wetter, according to Wentzel.
“Why are La Niña, neutral, and El Niño conditions important to Texas? Each of these conditions sets up different atmospheric circulation patterns that impact weather around the world, including Texas,” Wentzel wrote.
Hundreds apply for Houston ISD board of managers
With the Texas Education Agency taking over management of the Houston Independent School District, nearly 400 applications have been received to join the district’s Board of Managers. In a news release, TEA said it is looking for Houston residents with “a wide array of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives who believe all children can learn and achieve at high levels when properly supported and who can work together as a governance team.”
“I am looking for Houstonians with wisdom and integrity who can be laser-focused on what is best for students,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. “It is exciting to see so many Houstonians express a willingness to help move the school system forward in service of students.”
The Board of Managers will hold public board meetings and has the same legal requirements and obligations as any elected school board, according to TEA.