Health Care Reform, Property Tax Appraisals and More

April 26, 2021

Health Care Reform Passes the Texas House 

We have made large strides for Texans on the path to health care reform.  Two key pieces of health care reform policy that will help Texans have more options to access care and reduce the cost of prescriptions for Texans in need have passed the Texas House.  Last session we banned surprise medical billing and this session we are building upon that success by pushing for more transparency in medical billing, more affordable plans and expanding access to care.    
 HB 18, more widely known as the Texas Cares Act, helps uninsured and underinsured Texans by lowering the cost of prescription medicines through a self-supported fund. This self-sustaining fund would be restored by annual rebates, which come from the use of existing market tools.

HB 4 ensures that Texans have the option to receive health care services through telemedicine and tele-health services.

First Meal Delivery: Tarrant Area Food Bank West in Parker County  

Yesterday I was honored to participate in the first-ever distribution of food to moms and their families with the Governor of the Day, Senator Brian Birdwell at the new Tarrant Area Food Bank West Distribution Center located in Weatherford.  We were also joined by Senator Drew Springer, Congressman Roger Williams, Mayor Paul Paschall and Mayor Marc Povero.  

Vote on Budget Amendment

I’ve been asked why I voted as I did on an amendment to the budget that came before the Texas House Thursday night. We have taken a number of important votes this week on very critical topics that range from taxes to schools to transportation to health care. But what is generating the most questions at home is one of private school funding.

The question of taxpayer funding of private schools or “school choice” came up in a roundabout way during the 250+ amendments considered yesterday as we debated the appropriations (budget) bill. I have been asked why I voted a “yes” on an amendment that said, in essence, that no taxpayer funds in this budget would be spent on private school funding.

Given the circumstances my “yes” vote was the correct vote. The budget did fully fund the only school choice program in Texas which is our charter schools, which I support. There is no other private school funding program in Texas. No bill to create a taxpayer funded school choice program—beyond that of charter schools —will be created this year. My larger concern is that we fully met our funding commitment to public schools when we have an almost $1 billion dollar deficit. At the end of the day, ALL members of the Texas House voted “yes” on the appropriations bill which included the amendment I supported.

Further Reductions in Clawback Tax

Last session we were able to significantly reduce a substantial penalty on landowners when they decide to change the use of his or her open space land from agricultural uses to something else.  A “rollback tax” or what I would refer to as a clawback tax is imposed where a landowner must pay local taxing entities 5 year clawback on the market value of the property as if it never held an agricultural exemption plus 7 percent compounded interest.  We reduced that to 3 year clawback with 5 percent compounded interest.           

This clawback tax substantially hinders your property rights and there is simply no justification for this excessive penalty that prevents properties from advancing to their highest and best use. This session I filed HB 3833 that harmonizes the clawback for other types of land that also incur the clawback tax when a change of use occurs.  HB 3833 was voted out of the Ways & Means committee with unanimous consent and is heading to the House floor.  It applies to airport property, restricted use timber land and recreational, park or scenic use land.  My goal is to over time completely eliminate the rollback tax on all types of land that incur this excessive penalty.       

Appraisals and Tax Rates

Many of you have called our office to share your frustrations about your recent appraisal.  I completely understand and share your frustrations. I appealed our home and business appraisal last year and I encourage you to do the same if it is high.  Property tax bills are skyrocketing and the state is looking for ways to provide relief.  But I will remind you, the state Legislature is limited in what we can do because only local authorities can levy property taxes.    Appraisals are to be a reflection of the true market value of a property and our counties are growing very fast.  The demand is very high in our area and our supply is not keeping up with the demand so we are seeing the market value of homes increase significantly.

Last session we implemented SB 2 which limits property tax growth by setting a 3.5% cap in property tax revenue over the previous year.  We sought to clarify the property tax process and provide taxpayers more opportunities to get engaged to ensure their voices were heard in the process local elected officials follow to set tax rates which determine property tax bills.  So what is critical now is what tax rates are set at the school, city and county level.  Just because your appraisal has increased doesn’t mean the taxes you will pay should increase and that is what SB 2 is trying to ensure is limited.  Because jurisdictions are now capped on how much they can grow their revenue, jurisdictions may be in a position to reduce their tax rates providing relief to homeowners while still maintaining the same level of revenue.  Just because the appraisals are growing doesn’t mean the tax collections should continue to increase.   

We do still need additional reforms on appraisals process and making sure true market value is assessed and applied equally around the state.  The number one call I still get is how homeowners are being taxed out of owning their homes.  Much of the property taxes you are paying is school district taxes.  The state and local share of funding our schools has been a difficult balance to strike with no perfect solution.  I have filed bills over the years to completely eliminate school property taxes which is such an unfair regressive tax and swap with a consumption based tax like sales tax.    

If you have more questions about your appraisal or wish to protest your appraisal, visit the appraisal district website for Parker County HERE or Wise County HERE.  

As always, I really appreciate hearing from you and am eager to listen.  Your calls and emails to the office are a tremendous help as I am often reviewing and voting on hundreds of measures just in one day.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance.