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Gov. Greg Abbott late last week warned lawmakers to be prepared for several special sessions to pass a tax reform bill that he will accept, as well as a school voucher plan that failed to pass during the regular session.
Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are at odds over how to deliver more than $17 billion in property tax relief, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
During the first special session, called immediately after the regular session ended May 29, the House of Representatives quickly passed a tax relief bill that Abbott supports, then adjourned. The governor said the measure could result in eventually eliminating property taxes. The Senate has not taken action. Patrick, who presides over the Senate, countered that eliminating all property taxes would result in local sales taxes more than doubling to 19%.
“Whenever sales taxes underperform, property taxes will immediately go back up,” Patrick tweeted.
Speaking before the Texas Public Policy Foundation last Friday, Abbott proposed reducing the overall tax burden through population growth and an expanded business market paying taxes.
“Texans want to own their own property, not rent it from government,” Abbott said.
Scott named interim attorney general
John Scott, who most recently served as Texas Secretary of State under Abbott, has been appointed the short-term interim Texas attorney general after Ken Paxton was forced to step aside while awaiting trial in the Senate. Paxton was impeached by the Texas House on May 27.
“John Scott has the background and experience needed to step in as a short-term interim Attorney General during the time the Attorney General has been suspended from duty,” Abbott said.
Scott also worked as a deputy attorney general under Abbott, overseeing all civil litigation undertaken by that office, then served as chief operating officer of the Health and Human Services Commission. Paxton’s trial in the Senate is slated to begin no later than Aug. 28, according to the Texas Tribune.
Legal heavyweights to prosecute Paxton
Two well-known Houston attorneys have been hired to prosecute the impeachment case against Paxton. Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin have more than 100 combined years of courtroom experience, the Statesman reported.
“The people of the state of Texas are entitled to know whether their top cop is a crook,” DeGuerin said. For his part, Hardin implored the Senate to make the proceedings public. That body plans to adopt rules of engagement for the trial on June 20.
Paxton, a three-term Republican, was impeached by a lopsided margin in the House. Impeachment is the rough equivalent of a grand jury indictment. The Senate will act as a court to determine his guilt or innocence of the 20 articles of impeachment. It requires a two-thirds majority to convict Paxton, whose wife, Angela Paxton, is a state senator.
DeGuerin has defended a number of high-profile clients, including former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver.