Breaking News
More () »

Texas Senate unanimously passes property tax reform bills

On Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Senate unanimously passed two property tax reform bills. The bills, SB 1 and SJR 1, were passed off to the House.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers didn't waste time on the first day of what could be several special sessions.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Senate unanimously passed two property tax reform bills.

The bill's passing came hours after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the legislature back to work to tackle that issue as well as others surrounding human smuggling.

The property tax reform bill would impact more than 5.5 million Texans. The bills, Senate Bill 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 1, were passed off to the House, which passed the legislature and promptly adjourned.

"The Texas House is the only chamber that passed a property tax cut bill that is germane to the special session that I called to provide Texans with property tax relief," Abbott said. "It provides more cuts to property tax rates than any other proposal at this time. It is supported by the most respected tax think tank in the state, as well as more than 30 homeowner, consumer, and business groups across the state. I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk."

Republican Sen. Paul Bennencourt, of Houston, authored SB 1 and SJR 1. The bills would provide 10 cents of property tax compression and a $100,000 homestead exemption for homeowners under 65. For those over 65, the exemption would rise to $110,000. The current homestead exemption is $40,000.

"It's a $60,000 increase, and that means wherever people move, wherever they go in the state of Texas, they can go from the Rio Grande to the Red River, and they're going to get $681 off on that homestead exemption for the rest of their lives," Bettencourt said.

Lawmakers said it could save the average Texas homeowner more than $1,200 per year and more than $1,400 per year for homeowners over 65.

When the bills got to the House on Tuesday evening, they hit a roadblock. Lawmakers got hung up over the homestead exemption. House Speaker Dade Phelan said he thinks part of the proposed changes in the bills go beyond what Abbott's special session allows. Phelan said the bills won't be referred to committees, a key first step to passing.

Phelan told House members that Abbott's special session call deals solely with the compressed tax rate.

Voters will have the final say on increasing the homestead exemption. They'll have to approve the constitutional amendment in November.

The Texas Senate recessed until Friday morning. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told members to get rest and see their families.

Abbott said several special sessions will be required to pass the remaining "critical items."

Adam Bennett on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Before You Leave, Check This Out