Legislative Accomplishments: Eliminating Interest on Rollback Tax & Protecting the Unborn

June 9, 2021

This is my second installment on accomplishments in the recent Texas legislative session that adjourned May 31st.  Much good work has been overlooked.  However, there was also much left undone.  So, when I finish this series, I’ll layout some things I believe the Texas Legislature must accomplish in the special sessions coming later this summer and early fall.

One bill to highlight is also one that I was honored to author, HB 3833. It turned out to be the only significant property tax cut passed this year.  I’m also excited to share with you several bills to protect the unborn.  Texas is now the largest state in the nation to pass such bold pro-life initiatives. 

HB 3833 – Eliminating Interest On The Rollback Tax

In 2019, we were able to significantly reduce a huge penalty on landowners when they would change the use of their open space land from agricultural, for example, to another purpose such as building a home or opening a business.  For decades, the rollback tax held back land development and penalized family property owners.  It’s worked like this.  Say you bought or inherited land that had been out in the country.  Years later you decided to convert it to a business purpose or maybe just build your new home.  Well, on whatever acreage you converted from “ag exempt” you’d pay five years back property taxes, at full market value, with interest compounded at 7%!     Last session, in 2019, Texas passed legislation to reduce that five year clawback to three years and the interest from 7% to 5%.  That was a good start but not enough.   

This session I authored HB 3833 which was the only property tax savings to make it to Governor Abbott’s desk and it will do two things.  First, it eliminates the 5% interest when a change of property use occurs.  According to the Legislative Budget Board, this will reduce property taxes $472 million over just the next five years.  Second, we harmonized statute to include certain remaining types of properties that had been left out of the 2019 property tax rollback rate cut. 

Protecting the Unborn – SB 8, Texas Heartbeat Act and HB 1280, Pre-Ban on Abortion

Effective September 1, abortion will be prohibited after a fetal heartbeat is detected!  Current law bans abortion after 20 weeks but the Heartbeat Act will ban abortion at six weeks, probably earlier.  Texas now leads the nation in protecting the life of the unborn.  Tragically, in 2020 alone, over 50,000 abortions were performed in our state. 

The legislature also passed a pre-ban (trigger bill) on abortion which would allow Texas to fully ban all abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.  Rather than waiting for the next legislative session, this new law allows Texas to immediately take action to protect lives. 

In our state budget we also included $100 million in funding for Alternatives to Abortion programs.  Funding for women’s health programs was also increased to a total of $352.6 million for the biennium.  
I’ll continue this series with another installment in just a few days.