Breaking News: Property Tax Relief Agreement

July 10, 2023

I’m pleased to report that today, after months of negotiation, the Texas House and Senate have reached an agreement that will provide for the largest property tax cut in Texas history. 

More details are forthcoming, but here are the broad parameters of the agreement:

  • Over $12 billion will be spent on reducing the school property tax rate for all homeowners and business properties.
  • Every homeowner who homesteads their residence (approximately 5.7 million homeowners) will receive a $100,000 homestead exemption.
  • Non-homesteaded properties, valued at $5 million and under, including residential and commercial properties, will receive a 20% “circuit breaker”. This 3-year pilot project will function to limit appraisal increases. 
  • Legislation will also include savings on the franchise tax for small businesses and create newly-elected positions on local appraisal boards.

I’m pleased that we will be providing this level of relief to Texans. Last year, as a candidate for Texas Senate, I made clear that property tax relief must be a top priority.  Hopefully this legislation will be voted out very soon and the impact will be felt in the coming months.

The Texas Legislature today reached an agreement that will provide the largest property tax cut in Texas history.

Home Stretch:  Solid Conservative Wins, End of Life Protections, Protecting Small Business, Free State Park Access for Veterans…and more!

May 21, 2023

We are approaching the last week of the 88th Legislative Session which ends on Memorial Day – one week from tomorrow.  
Senators, Representatives and their staff have been working long days; in fact, we are in session today on Sunday. Bills important to members are dying, so frustrations can be high and patience is in short supply. Tensions between the Senate and House rise to the surface, as good people have different approaches on how to address issues facing our great state. I’ve seen the end of sessions play out many times throughout my years as a legislator, and this is not uncommon. 

No doubt there is important work to be done, but legislation is getting passed. Here’s a look at some movement on some of those bills.  

Gender Modification Ban Passes – On to the Governor’s Desk

After initially passing the Texas Senate, on Monday the Texas House passed SB 14, our bill to ban gender modification procedures on minors. The bill came back to the Senate for a final vote on Wednesday, and the bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk. The testimony I heard related to this issue from those impacted by these procedures was disturbing and sobering. I’m very pleased that we have drawn a line in the sand, making clear that Texas will not allow dangerous, unproven medical practices on vulnerable children. 

Save Women’s College Sports Legislation Passes, Also On to the Governor

After receiving final passage last week, SB 15 is ready for the Governor’s signature. I’ve kept you updated on the progress of this bill, which bans the practice of biological men seeking to unfairly compete against women in college athletics. Last session, as a House member I voted to ban this practice up to the high school level, but we have seen proliferation of this problem at the collegiate level.

If you haven’t followed this issue closely, please listen to testimony of Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer who was a 12-time NCAA All-American and 5-time SEC Champion. I’ve provided this link before, but am doing so again as she provides powerful, compelling information on why this legislation was needed. Please go to 1:40:00 at the following link here.

Senate Passes Texas Regulatory Consistency Act

On Monday, we began the week by passing HB 2127, a key bill to bring fairness, predictability, and consistency to the regulatory process faced by businesses across Texas.
Even with Texas’ reputation as a pro-business haven, some businesses are facing increased costs related to navigating a patchwork of new regulations passed by different cities. In fact, would you be surprised to learn that some large municipalities are using subpoena power to harass local businesses? This is far outside the appropriate role of local government. 
Because of the costs incurred with this growing regulatory intrusion, some companies have even had to resort to laying off employees. Large companies have more of an ability to withstand these costs, but small businesses are significantly impacted. In fact, this bill was the top legislative priority of the Texas Chapter of NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), which represents small “mom and pop” operations most severely impacted by this disturbing trend of government overreach. 
The Texas Regulatory Consistency Act ensures that municipalities “stay in their lane” and within the constraints prescribed and outlined by the constitution. The bill makes clear that cities can’t have an ordinance that is in conflict with our state constitution, giving local job creators greater confidence in the regulatory landscape. At the same time, local governments will retain clear authority to regulate traditionally local matters; just a few examples include zoning, public safety, employment and housing discrimination, emergency management, fireworks and fire suppression, flood control and drainage, drought and water restrictions.
I actually carried similar legislation in the Texas House last session; however, it died in the final days of the session when Democrats called a point of order to kill it, then fled the state. I look forward to this legislation taking effect later this fall after the governor’s signature.

Landmark Legislation to Ensure Protections and Life Sustaining Treatment for Hospitalized Patients

Sometimes, legislation that has significant impact doesn’t receive the headlines or attention warranted, and I believe this is the case with HB 3162 which has now passed both chambers.
Currently, if a doctor determines that a patient’s life-sustaining medical treatment is “medically inappropriate” and an ethics committee at the hospital agrees, the patient and their family are given 10 calendar days to find a new health care provider. If the family is not successful, the treatment keeping their relative alive can be stopped against their will. You will no doubt remember the 2019 case of Tinslee Lewis (“Baby Tinslee”), a nine-month-old baby with a rare heart condition given only 10 days to live. The courts intervened, her life was sparred, and she is still alive today.
This legislation amends the Texas Advance Directives Act to provide patients on life sustaining treatment – and their families advocating for them – with new rights.  Here are some of the key provisions:

  • Instead of only 10 days, families will now have 25 days to make a transfer for their loved one;
  • Hospitals must perform a procedure necessary to facilitate a transfer before the 25 day countdown may begin;
  • “Quality of life” may no longer be used as a criteria when making decisions about continuing treatment, as this tactic can be used to make arbitrary judgements concerning the elderly or disabled;
  • When hospital ethics committees are meeting, families must be provided at least 7 calendar days notice and be allowed to participate in the meeting;
  • Life sustaining treatment can’t be withheld from a patient capable of communication;
  • Hospitals now have reporting requirements on the dispute resolution process; this information will be made publicly available on the Texas Department of Health and Human Services website 

As a legislator, I’ve been faced with this issue for at least 20 years, and a solution has been elusive. I’m grateful that progress has finally been made to ensure that patients and their families will soon have greater protection during a very stressful and emotional time. 

Increasing Criminal Penalties for Fentanyl Abuse

In previous updates I’ve shared how the unchecked border is allowing a dramatic increase in the increased supply of fentanyl, a dangerous and potent synthetic opioid. In the 12-month period ending in November 2022, the CDC reports more than 75,000 Americans died from an overdose of synthetic opioids, mainly from fentanyl. The Texas Department of Public Safety has seized over 353 million lethal doses of fentanyl since the beginning of Operation Lone Star in March 2021. HB 6, passed last week, seeks to address this issue by increasing criminal penalties for the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl, expanding the conduct constituting murder, and creating two criminal offenses involving the manufacture or delivery of certain opioids.

Honoring Veterans with Free Access to Texas State Parks

I voted last week to support a bill that would allow all honorably discharged veterans and active U.S. armed forces members free access to our state parks, along with free access to a surviving spouse, parent, child, or sibling of a person who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.  This is a great way to honor our veterans and show our appreciation for the men and women who have proudly served our nation. Currently, only disabled veterans are eligible for free access, and with this action this courtesy will be extended to all veterans.

A few more items moving through the process:

  • Critical legislation to address Texas’ growing water needs, SB 28, received final passage and is on to the Governor’s desk. This bill establishes the Texas Water Fund and the New Water Supply Fund, which voters will need to approve in a November constitutional referendum.
  • Unfortunately, there has been a growing movement across multiple states to impose state taxes based on net worth or wealth. HJR 132, passed by the Senate, would allow the people of Texas to decide whether or not they want a direct say in the possibility of a net worth tax being imposed by the legislature. Obviously, I would strenuously oppose the creation of a net worth tax.
  • The Senate voted this week in support of expanding broadband availability to rural areas of the state. HB 9 creates the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund, administered by the office of the Texas Comptroller. HJR 125 would place a constitutional amendment before Texas voters, who would have to approve the proposed funding.

Mother’s Day, More Border Security, Stopping ESG, Honoring WWII Veterans, & More

May 14, 2023

I want to wish all of our Moms a wonderful Mother’s Day and acknowledge the very special role they have in our lives. I particularly want to share how blessed I am for my wife, Terry, and the amazing job she did in raising our six children and serving as a role model for our five daughters. I am blessed with a wonderful stepmother, Barbara, who helped fill the void after my mother passed. My mother, Joyce King, was very ill most of her adult life and passed away many years ago. As we think of the moms in our lives – whether living or their memory – this is a great day to say thank you! Happy Mother’s Day!

Senate Passes My Bill to Establish First in Nation Terrorist Registry

One of the bills that I authored and passed last week by the Senate establishes a first in the nation Terrorist Offender Registry.    

First, some background. Texas has not yet taken action to enact state criminal statutes directed at terrorism. This has resulted in law enforcement and prosecutors lacking the necessary tools to pursue investigations, obtain convictions, and impose proportionate punishments against terrorist actors. 

SB 1518 provides those tools by creating a new category for terroristic offenses. The new state terrorism offenses will carry appropriate penalties against terrorists who knowingly act or provide material support to terrorist organizations. Commission of an offense carries a mandatory enhancement of one penalty level and a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for felonies and 180 days for misdemeanors.

Finally, SB 1518 identifies and tracks those who have proven to be threats to public and national safety. Currently, if someone is released from prison after serving time for a terrorist-related crime, we have no idea where those people are if they come to our state. Therefore, following completion of their prison sentence for the commission of a reportable offense, this bill requires convicted terrorists to register on the Terrorist Offender Registry if they reside in or plan to move to the State of Texas.  This would operate similarly to our existing state sex offender registration statute, but there are some differences; for example, information on this new registry is accessible only by law enforcement.  

Border Security Remains in Focus: Texas Senate Takes Action

Earlier this week I expressed my concern about the unfolding crisis at the border after Title 42 expired at midnight on Thursday. While the full consequences and effects are yet to be fully known, the ensuing border chaos in the first few days demonstrates that – once again – the federal government under President Joe Biden is unwilling and incapable of securing our southern border. These developments also underscore why it is critical for Texas to take the leadership in this mission and provide the resources to get it done. As the session nears an end, I thought this would be an appropriate time to recap bills passed so far by the Texas Senate that have an impact on border security. Some of these bills are still in process and passage is not assured, but these have been passed by the Senate:

HB 1 (our state budget): provides $4.6 billion to maintain current border security operations with a pay raise for border law enforcement
SB 22:  funding rural law enforcement
SB 423: authorizes Texas military forces to use drones for border security and other operations
SB 602: confers state felony arrest authority to US Border Patrol agents
SB 1248: strengthens smuggling laws to include state parks
SB 1403: creates the Border Security Compact
SB 1427: provides increased penalties for smuggling
SB 1484: a border operations training program
SB 1709:  my legislation strengthens organized crime and sedition laws
SB 1884: sanctioning foreign nationals
SB 1900: adds foreign terrorist organizations to organized crime under state law
SB 2424:  gives the state authority to enforce our border

Authoring Legislation to Target ESG Policies Impacting the Cost of Insurance

We’ve all seen the increasingly liberal, “woke” agenda of some corporations. Instead of focusing on what is best for customers and shareholders, many are intent on bowing to the small but vocal activists who are pushing the so-called ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) model. 

This trend has even impacted the insurance industry. That’s why I authored SB 833, which prohibits any insurance company doing business in Texas from using environmental, social, or governance factors as a basis for determining insurance rates. SB 833 will ensure that only mathematically valid factors are considered when determining rates, not race, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and certainly not an ESG rating.

An example of this would be if a company had a truck fleet that’s all electric and another company had a truck fleet that is diesel, the EV fleet could not get a different, lower premium that has nothing to do with causality or risk factors. 

This Texas bill, and our aggressive efforts to rein in ESG, have received national notice. Recently TIME magazine wrote: “Over the past year, the backlash against so-called ESG investing has swept through red states as legislatures enacted laws punishing investment firms that use environmental, social, and governance metrics in their decision making. As the saying goes, it’s bigger in Texas.”

Senate Passes Additional Legislation to Ban COVID Mandates

This week the Senate passed SB 1024, which bans government entities from mandating masks, vaccines, and from adding COVID-19 vaccines to school immunization schedules. It also prohibits discrimination against unvaccinated people by labor organizations.

Honoring the TCCRI Student Scholars of the 2023 Legislative Session

As I’ve shared before, I serve as Chairman of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI). Every legislative session since 2009, the TCCRI Clements Legislative Study Program provides conservative college students the opportunity to learn about public policy development up close and firsthand as interns at the Texas Capitol. The program is the largest of its kind in Texas for conservative college students.

Each Texas legislative session, TCCRI places scholars in the office of a state legislator who is a member of the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC), the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature; this provides a unique learning environment for students interested in public service and public policy. Through this program, TCCRI helps ensure that its founding principles – Limited Government, Individual Liberty, Free Enterprise, and Traditional Values – are instilled in the next generation of conservative leaders. 

Last week, we honored this year’s participants including our SD 10 intern, Jackie Pillow of Fort Worth.  A graduate from Aledo ISD, she is a second-year UT student majoring in Canfield Business Honors and Finance, with a minor in Law, Justice, and Society.

Last week we honored the students who participated in the TCCRI Clements Legislative Study Program, which provides conservative college students the opportunity to learn firsthand about the public policy process. 

Last Thursday, we were joined by 16 World War II veterans, ranging in age from 95 to 102. This was an amazing opportunity to see these living Texans from the “Greatest Generation”.  It was a particular honor for me to meet SD 10 constituent Arnold Pitchford from Millsap. Mr. Pitchford served in the United States Army from April 1945 through December 1946. He was born on Tin Top Road in Weatherford, resides on the family farm on Pitchford Lane and has multiple generations of family living in Parker County. Thank you for your service, Sir!

Honoring Texas WW II Veterans of the “Greatest Generation”

Last week, Thursday’s observance of World War II Veterans Capitol Day provided us an opportunity to honor brave members of the Greatest Generation for their selfless service. These patriots helped preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

In December 1941, the United States was drawn into the most devastating and consequential conflict in human history. At that time, although Texas had only five percent of the nation’s population, we provided seven percent of armed forces personnel. By the end of the war, 750,000 Texans, including 12,000 women, had contributed to victory over enemy forces; the majority of these service members were in the U.S. Army and the Army Air Force, but nearly a quarter served in other branches; over 22,000 Texans made the ultimate sacrifice, a third of this number in the Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard. 

According to the National World War II Museum, as of 2022, 8,200 World War II veterans were living in Texas, the fifth-highest number of all states in the U.S. It was a privilege to meet some of these great men, shake their hand, and let them know how much we honor them.  

Border Surge, Tracking Dangerous Foreign Nationals, Honoring Israel’s 75th Birthday & TCU’s 150th

May 9, 2023

As of yesterday, there are only three weeks left in the 88th Texas Legislative session. This is the time in the session when various deadlines related to the process bring an increased sense of urgency to those trying to ensure important bills get passed.  We are still working to finalize the budget, and as we are required by the Constitution to pass a budget before adjourning we will do so. However, there is still important work to be done on major priorities concerning property tax relief, school choice, improving and securing the electric grid, and more. The final stretch will be very important in determining if we are here for special sessions this summer or not. In this report I’ve enclosed some highlights of both legislation and special events over the last couple of weeks.

Clarification on Property Tax Freeze for Seniors

First, though, last week in my email concerning property tax appraisals, I stated the following: “If you are over 65, your tax appraisal is frozen.” I received a question from a longtime friend who pointed out that my wording wasn’t completely accurate, and he is correct. When you qualify for an Over 65 or Disabled Person homestead exemption, your property taxes are actually frozen and can never go up; however, this applies only to the school districts, which constitute the overwhelming majority of your property tax bill. This is sometimes referred to as the “senior freeze” or “homestead tax ceiling”. However, for the other local government jurisdictions such as city and county, it is up to each local entity to decide whether or not to freeze your taxes. Check with your local appraisal district to see which of your local government entities have provided this freeze. In Weatherford where I live, for example, those over 65 have their homestead property taxes frozen for the school district, city, county and community college. But every community is different by local option.

Texas Prepares for Border Surge as Biden Ends Title 42 Policy

More broadly, I am watching the developments along the border with concern. You may have heard of “Title 42”, which were restrictions implemented under President Donald Trump in March 2020 as the COVID pandemic began. Implementation of Title 42 allowed border agents to prevent illegal entry from Mexico, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported this measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in crowded detention settings.

Now, President Biden plans to lift the Title 42 policy this week when the COVID public health emergency officially ends, and we are already seeing the impact. In recent weeks we have seen a significant increase in apprehensions between ports of entry, with Texas DPS and U.S. Border Patrol predicting up to 8,000 attempted entries a day – double the recent number. As a member of the Senate Border Security, I am in regular contact with DPS Director Steve McCraw and will be monitoring developments as this situation unfolds. Texas is responding and preparing to deal with the expected surge. Gov. Abbott said yesterday, “We’re deploying today a new Texas tactical border force made up of elite National Guard who are specifically trained for one thing. And that is to identify areas illegal immigrants are trying to cross the border and to fill that gap and to repel them.”

Tracking and Sanctioning Corrupt and Dangerous Foreign Nationals

In 2020, Congress passed the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, which requires the U.S. Department of State to provide an annual report, the Engel List, on corrupt and undemocratic actors in the so-called “Northern Triangle” countries. This federal report is used to hold corrupt actors accountable with sanctions such as asset freezing and denying visas. Now, Texas is taking similar action.

Early in the session I communicated with you about the sobering testimony of DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw before the Border Security Committee on which I serve. He outlined a significant vulnerability from the proliferation of bad actors along the Mexican border, including cartels trafficking in cash, people, weapons and drugs. 

With SB 1884, Texas will create its own version of the Engel List by tracking and monitoring corrupt and dangerous actors doing business in our state. The Texas Secretary of State’s Office will generate and post on its website a list of foreign nationals who have engaged in actions that undermine our security and sovereignty, or are engaged in significant corruption in their home country. Sanctions can then be imposed on these individuals or entities by denying an application for or revoking any business registration in this state, prohibiting contracts with state agencies, and prohibiting attendance in public institutions of higher education. Taking this action will provide us with another tool to fight corruption and dangerous individuals intent on undermining our state. 

Banning Public Funding for Gender Modification; Ensuring Fair Treatment of Detransitioning Procedures

Transgender healthcare facilities are exploding across the state, and with that of course comes a dramatic increase in gender modification treatments and procedures. Tragically, many of those who go through these procedures later regret the process and then consider detransition. The sad reality is that the use of hormone blockers, cross-sex hormone treatments, and gender modification surgeries are fraught with danger.   
The use of hormone blockers brings numerous risks and complications, including decreased bone density, disruption of normal bone development, and increased mental health problems. Those who choose to detransition often face numerous roadblocks, including learning that their health insurance (which often covered the initial gender modification procedures) does not cover these ongoing health issues. SB 1029, passed by the Senate on April 26, addresses these issues and bans taxpayer dollars from being spent on gender modification. The bill makes private health benefit plans strictly liable for the lifetime care of the patient for consequences of gender modification treatment or procedures covered by the plan; prohibits public funds from being used for gender modification procedure or treatment; and prohibits state funded insurance plans (TRS, ERS, Medicaid, CHIP) from covering transgender modification treatments or procedures.

Separately, last month I voted for SB 14, a bill which bans modification for minors in Texas. SB 14 would prohibit people under the age of 18 from receiving hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or surgery for the purposes of transitioning from one gender to another.

Honoring the 75th Birthday of the Nation of Israel

Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson, and colleagues from the Texas Senate as we recognize 75 years since the founding of the modern state of Israel.

On April 26th, it was my honor to lead the Senate as we recognized the 75th anniversary of the nation of Israel. There is a deep heritage that Texans share with Israel, whether that is spiritually, economically, or our love for freedom and independence. Israel is one of our leading trading partners and a close ally of both the United States and certainly to Texas. Economically, Israel is known as a “startup nation” for their entrepreneurship, which fits Texas so well.

We honored a number of guests on the Senate floor, including Kenny and Sherry Goldberg (Kenny is chair of the Texas Holocaust Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission); Sandra Hagee Parker, board member of the Texas Holocaust Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission; Fred Zeidman, Chairman Emeritus of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council; and Livia Link-Raviv, Counsel General of Israel to the Southwest.

 Honoring TCU’s 150th Anniversary

My Senate colleague Lois Kolkhorst (a TCU graduate) and I welcomed TCU President Daniel Pullin, Deputy Athletics Director Mike Sinquefield, Student Body President Brandon Fox and Burnett School of Medicine student Kavneet Kaur on the occasion of TCU’s 150th Anniversary.

As State Senator for District 10, I have the privilege of representing TCU, a university that has continued to grow in both academic offerings and national prominence. TCU, with approximately 12,000 students, 100,000 alumni, and a $2 billion endowment, now has a medical school that will graduate its first class in 2023. TCU was founded in 1873; Sen. Kolkhorst and I sponsored a Senate resolution in recognition of this milestone. 

“It is an honor to be recognized and celebrated by the state of Texas in this meaningful way,” President Pullin said. “For 150 years, TCU has been developing the next generation of ethical leaders and innovators for the advancement of our region and our state, sending talented Horned Frogs across the globe to impact the greater good. We proudly share our talented graduates with the state of Texas and boldly look forward to the next 150 years.”

TCU students and leaders, and even “SuperFrog”, made their presence known at the State Capitol last week. Congratulations on your 150th anniversary!

Students from Dallas Baptist University stopped by to see me recently. I earned both my undergraduate and MBA degrees from DBU and served there as an Adjunct Professor, teaching constitutional law, from 1992-1995. 

Dr. James Hurley, President and CEO at Tarleton State University, stopped by to see me recently. The main campus of Tarleton is in Stephenville, outside of SD 10, but Tarleton State University – Fort Worth has operated programs serving the needs of Tarrant, Johnson and Parker Counties for over 40 years. In 2019, Tarleton opened a multi-purpose academic facility on the Chisholm Trail Parkway in Southwest Fort Worth.

From time to time, I am asked to serve as presiding officer of the Texas Senate, overseeing the legislative process. 

Leading the Texas Senate in prayer to begin the session. 

My Appraisal Increased 30% – Do My Taxes Increase 30%? The Answer is No.

May 1, 2023

You are well aware that property tax appraisals are arriving across the eight counties of Senate District 10.   
It is important to remember:

  1. Because of laws passed by the legislature, without voter approval local governments and jurisdictions are prohibited from increasing their total tax revenue – over the previous year – by more than 2.5% for school districts and 3.5% for all other taxing entities.
  2. Only 10% of the increase in your homestead property value can be used in determining your actual tax. If you are over 65, your taxes are frozen at the school district level.   When you qualify for an Over 65 or Disabled Person homestead exemption, your property taxes are actually frozen and can never go up; however, this applies only to the school districts, which constitute the overwhelming majority of your property tax bill.   This is sometimes referred to as the “senior freeze” or “homestead tax ceiling”.  However, for the other jurisdictions such as city and county, it is up to each local entity to decide whether or not to freeze your taxes.  Check with your local appraisal district to see which of your local entities have provided this freeze.   

More explanation on this is included below.

In the final month of the current legislative session which ends on May 29th, you will be hearing a lot more about various proposals to reduce the property tax burden in Texas. Rest assured, I am committed to using a substantial portion of the current Texas budget surplus for that purpose.

Below, I’ve outlined some common questions I receive concerning the appraisal process, along with some information I hope will be helpful.

How does the appraisal process work, and how does it impact my
property tax bill?

  • First, know that Texas has no state property tax. Local governments are authorized by the Texas Constitution and statutory law to collect local property taxes. The state does not set tax rates, collect taxes or settle disputes between taxpayers and local governments.
  • An appraisal notice is NOT a bill; rather, receiving your appraisal is the first step in the process. The actual property tax you pay will be determined after the tax rate is set by your local government entities in the coming months.  

My homestead appraisal went up over 30%. So is my property tax bill going up 30%?

  • No. Even though an appraisal may have gone up substantially, taxing districts are limited to using no more than a 10% increase in your homestead property value. Here’s an example:

Previous Assessed Value:        $400,000
New Assessed Valued:             $520,000

In this example, you might think you will be taxed on the new assessment of $520,000 – a 30% increase. However, local taxing districts can use no more than $440,000 ($400,000 x 10% = $40,000) as the taxable value used in calculating the taxes on your homestead.

  • As a reminder, don’t forget to confirm that you have filed your personal homestead exemption on your primary residence. Because of changes made in the last legislative session and approved by voters in a statewide election last May, the homestead exemption was raised from $25,000 to $40,000. That means that $40,000 of your appraisal value is removed, thus lowering what your tax bill would have been. (Last month, the Texas Senate passed a plan to increase that the homestead exemption from $40,000 to an historic $70,000, plus an additional $30,000 for seniors.)
  • If you are over 65, make sure to file your exemption to freeze your taxes.
  • More specific questions concerning your homestead exemption can be found here:

How does the appraisal process work?  Who sets the tax rates that determine my property tax bill?

  • The appraisal value you received was determined by your local Appraisal District. State law requires that properties be appraised at fair market value, using standard methodology outlined by the Texas Comptroller.
  • Appraisal Districts are governed by a board of directors selected by the local taxing units outlined below.
  • In the coming months, a tax rate will be set by the various taxing jurisdictions in your particular county. These jurisdictions will always include your local school district and county government. Then, depending on where you live, this could also include a city (municipal) tax and potentially others such as a hospital district, water district, community college/junior college district or other special purpose districts. Your local school district taxes constitute the overwhelming portion of your local property tax bill. 

If I disagree with the appraised value of my home, what can I do?   

  • If you feel your appraised value is too high, you can appeal. Visit the web site of your county appraisal office, the entity responsible for determining the property value assessment you have received.Links to each county appraisal office are listed at the end of this email.Your appeal will be heard by an appraisal review board (ARB), a panel of your fellow citizens who will then decide if your appraisal should be reduced.
  • Important: if you plan an appeal, make sure you pay attention to the upcoming deadlines for appealing your assessment. Those deadlines will be listed on your county’s appraisal district web site.  

What Has the Legislature Done? 

As previously noted, there is no state property tax, but we have still taken aggressive measures over recent legislative sessions to impact the process with the goal of lowering the tax burden.

  • Major property tax reforms passed in 2019 forced local governments to seek and obtain voter approval before increasing revenue from the previous year above 2.5% (for school districts – HB 3) or 3.5% for most other taxing units (like cities – SB 2). These pro-taxpayer reforms give homeowners a needed voice during a time when values are growing; without those reforms, tax bills would grow unchecked.
  • 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. For example, let’s 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. At that point, 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%! In 2019, Texas passed legislation to reduce that five year “claw back” to three years and the interest from 7% to 5%. That was a good start but not enough. 
  • That’s why in the 2021 legislative session, I authored and passed HB 3833. By eliminating the interest on rollback property taxes, it was estimated that property taxes will be reduced by $472 million over the next five years.   
  • As referenced earlier, last legislative session I supported increasing the residential homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000. 

What is the Legislature Doing Right Now to Help Lower the Property Tax Burden?

The current legislative session ends on May 29th. We are working to use the budget surplus to provide more funding for public education in order to “buy down” the local school property tax rates.

Though approaches differ between the House and Senate, there is general agreement that at least $16 billion will be used to provide property tax relief.

I hope this background and information is helpful. If you intend on appealing your appraisal, see the links below.

An appraisal notice is NOT a bill; rather, receiving your appraisal is the first step in the process. The actual property tax you pay will be determined after the tax rate is set by your local government entities in the coming months.

If you feel your appraised value is too high, you can appeal. Visit the web site of your county appraisal office, the entity responsible for determining the property value assessment you have received. 


Here are direct links to your county appraisal office:
Brown County

Callahan County

Johnson County

Palo Pinto County

Parker County

Shackelford County

Stephens County

Tarrant County

Better Tools for Law Enforcement; Ending DEI & Tenure; Ten Commandments & More

April 23, 2023

SB 1852: Better Equipping Law Enforcement

Texas is home to the gold-standard Active Shooter Training in the country – The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training – commonly referred to as ALERRT.

Since 2002, ALERRT has been awarded more than $126 million in state and federal grant funding and has trained more than 248,000 law enforcement, fire, EMS, and emergency management officials nationwide.

SB 1852 will make ALERRT part of the minimum curriculum requirements for peace officers.  Upon this bill becoming law, officers will be required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to complete a training program on responding to an active shooter as developed by the ALERRT Center.

SB 1403 – Interstate Border Security Compact: Another Tool in the Border Security Effort

The Texas Senate has passed SB 1403, an interstate border security compact that does not rely on congressional approval. An interstate compact for border enforcement would equip Texas and other participating states with the resources needed to address the shortcomings of existing federal border policy. Allowing states to share enforcement resources, intelligence, and assistance in creating and maintaining defensive border structures would strengthen states’ capabilities to address, manage, and overcome the continuing security crisis at our southern border.

Restoring Posting of Ten Commandments in Classrooms

SB 1515 is about restoring religious liberties that have been lost, liberties that were a bedrock of America’s founding until a 1971 court decision which rolled them back.  America regularly acknowledged the role that fundamental religious documents and principles had in American heritage and law. One of the most recognized set of foundational principles were the Ten Commandments, which were displayed in public buildings across the United States, including in schools, government buildings, and courthouses—including the U.S. Supreme Court building.

For the last several decades, however, expression of that heritage has been restricted, especially after a 1980 Supreme Court decision which struck down Kentucky’s law requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools.  Now, after recent court decisions, the legal landscape has changed, and it is time to reassert the historical tradition of recognizing America’s heritage.  Through this legislation, Texas students will once again be reminded of a fundamental foundation of American and Texas law: the Ten Commandments.  This bill that I authored passed the Texas Senate this week.

SB 18 – Eliminating Faculty Tenure at Public Universities

Tenure provides a lifetime contract between a professor and an institution. Once granted, an educator can only be terminated for a justifiable cause or under extreme circumstances, such as program discontinuation or severe financial restraints.

Tenure was originally intended to protect academic freedom and recruit professors, however over the years, the practice has devolved into a costly perk that is detrimental to innovative research and quality instruction.  At a time when colleges and universities have unprecedented endowments, bloated administrative costs and ballooning tuition, we must reevaluate an outdated practice that guarantees lifetime employment at taxpayer expense.  Additionally, we have all heard the stories of indoctrination and liberal worldviews of professors who promote their agenda in the classroom.  With tenure, they are immune from fear of consequences.

SB 18 eliminates the costly, unnecessary and antiquated burden of tenure by eliminating tenure for faculty at public colleges and universities in Texas. This bill would apply to newly hired professors only.  It would then call for each institution to set up a system of tiered employment for faculty members and faculty would receive a yearly evaluation.  

SB 17 – Banning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Programs in Public Universities

The push for the so-called “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” philosophy is a perfect example of the liberal “woke” agenda that has increasingly permeated government, corporations, schools and universities.  In Texas, we are fighting back to ensure that we implement systems based on merit and achievement, not ideological agendas which create division and intolerance. 

Last week, we passed SB 17, Senate Bill 17 will prohibit institutions of higher education in the state from promoting or creating DEI programs. The use of diversity statements on applications would be banned, and mandatory DEI training would be scrapped. Research shows these programs have not been successful in the goal of hiring more minority employees.

During testimony and debate on the senate floor, we heard examples such as one of our statewide universities using a job applicant’s commitment to DEI as a factor in hiring.  As Governor Abbott made clear in a February letter to all university systems, practices such as this violate state and federal law.

Reminder:  Vote in Your Local Elections

Across the eight counties of Senate District 10, elections for local school boards, community colleges, and city council and mayors are upon us.  Early voting in most of these elections begins on Monday, April 24. Election Day is Saturday, May 6.

There’s a saying regarding civic involvement: “Government belongs to those who show up.” Since so few people vote in these elections, those who do turn out have a significant impact in the outcome.  Make sure you research the candidates running and support those who represent your values and philosophy. 

Members of the Leadership Burleson Class of 2023 were in town last week. I enjoyed visiting with these current and future of leaders from one of the fastest growing areas in SD 10. This delegation also met with a Texas Supreme Court Justice and toured the Governor’s Mansion and the Texas State Cemetery.

I had the honor of meeting with students from Howard Payne University in Brownwood last week.

Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain was in Austin last week.  We have been working together on proposed legislation, SB 1515. 

Last week on the Senate floor, preparing to lay out a bill to my fellow senators. 

Improving Border Security, Banning CRT, and more…

April 17, 2023

New Action to Improve Border Security

 We all know that the the Biden/Harris Administration has shown a blatant disregard for the human and drug smuggling crisis at our border.  In fiscal year 2022, Texas had over 1 million illegal immigrant apprehensions – a new record. To counter this dereliction of duty, two bills passed the Senate last week and I strongly support their passage.   

First, SB 2424 creates a new state crime for entering the state of Texas illegally from a foreign country. It authorizes law enforcement to arrest and prosecute those who enter Texas illegally anywhere in the state.

Second, with illegal immigration on the rise, so are drug cartels and human trafficking. SB 1427 seeks to align the penalties for smuggling in Texas with the federal human trafficking and smuggling laws, thereby helping to strengthen our southern border and cut down on these crises by enhancing the penalties of these crimes.

Securing the Integrity of Texas Elections: SB 1039, SB 1911

Election irregularities occur in every election cycle. SB 1039, passed last week, would establish a civil administrative review process to identify and remedy irregularities and improve access, security, processes, documentation, and accuracy with each election. SB 1039 amends current law relating to processes to address election irregularities and provides a civil penalty.
SB 1039 would provide a vehicle, going forward, for election judges, candidates, and proponents/opponents of a measure to inquire with the county election officials about identified irregularities and get a rationale for the irregularity and hopefully a plan to improve the situation.  If the county is unable to provide a satisfactory reason, the inquirer could raise the issue with the Secretary of State (SOS). Once at SOS, the inquiry would be reviewed and, if necessary, an audit regarding the specific issue identified would be initiated. If a violation of the Election Code is identified, the SOS will notify the county and work to get the issue resolved. Lastly, SB 1039 will provide an avenue for the SOS’s office to appoint a conservator to oversee elections for two federal election cycles. 
The Senate also passed SB 1911. Here’s some background on this bill: Harris County (where Houston is located) is our state’s most populated county. The outcome of the elections there can impact the outcome of statewide elections, and that affects us all, no matter where we live. 
In the November 2022 election, at least 120 of the 780+ Election Day polls in Harris County were supplied with an insufficient amount of ballot paper. Over 29 polling locations were not able to secure more ballots before running out of paper, and voters were not able to vote. 
SB 1911 would increase the penalty for:

  • the intentional failure to deliver election supplies timely from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor;   
  • intentionally obstructing the distribution of election supplies for an election from a Class C misdemeanor to a state jail felony; and
  • unlawfully revealing how a candidate or measure is doing or if a voter has or has not voted in an election before from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

Banning Critical Race Theory in Higher Education

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is one of the most divisive, harmful developments we have seen infiltrate our society in recent years.  CRT tries to define people, actually judges people, by their group affiliation—most often skin color but also gender and economic status—rather than viewing them as individuals created in the image of God. Such division is the very heart of prejudice, discrimination, and racism.  CRT also falsely accuses (and teaches our children) that the United States is a fundamentally racist nation. In fact, the New York Times 1619 Project specifically states that the purpose of the American Revolution was to protect the institution of slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Last session we took action to ban the teaching of CRT in grades K-12.  Last week, the Senate passed SB 16, which bans the teaching of critical race theory in Texas colleges and universities. This week, the Senate will most likely consider additional bills concerning higher education, including bills to ban discriminatory policies of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) and a bill that would eliminate tenure at the public state university level. As a member of the Higher Education Committee, I heard testimony on both of these bills.

The week ahead:  The Texas Budget

We will kick off the week by considering the proposed state budget for the 2024-2025 biennium.  I will provide more details when the budget is finally passed, but I will share now that the budget funds key priorities in public education, border security, public safety, health and human services as well as the infrastructure needed to address our growing transportation needs. 

The proposed budget includes funding to support the Senate’s $16.5 billion property tax relief plan contingent upon the passage of legislation and voter approval. 

If you would like to watch the proceedings as the budget and other matters are considered on Monday, please visit the following link:

My first bills passed the Texas Senate; plus, key bills to protect kids, stop rogue prosecutors, ensure Texas’ water supply

April 10, 2023

Improving the Texas Grid:  My First Three Bills Pass the Texas Senate

On Tuesday, the first three bills that I authored passed the Senate, all crafted to help improve the reliability and security of the Texas grid.  I’ve written to you about these bills in detail in my March 12th newsletter:

  • SB 1287 will cap the cost that is passed on to electricity customers on their electric bill, limiting the amount you will pay for the power generation company’s transmission lines.
  • SB 2014 will take away the mandatory subsidy that Texas electricity customers are currently paying for renewable energy. ERCOT is approaching 50,000 MW of renewable generation and this subsidy is no longer necessary. The program will continue on a voluntary basis.
  • SB 2015 states that beginning in 2024, at least 50% of all new energy generation produced must be dispatchable, meaning it’s “ready to go” and not dependent on the weather.

These bills were passed as part of the Texas Senate’s Power Grid Reform Package, which includes a total of nine critical bills to prioritize dispatchable generation and ensure grid reliability.  For example, SB 6 establishes the Texas Energy Insurance Program and SB 7 creates a new ancillary service for dispatchable generators.  

On Monday, I laid out three electricity-related measures – the first bills I authored – and I’m pleased to report that all were adopted by the Texas Senate.  

Providing Water for Texas’ Growing Population:  Senate passes SB 28

The population in Texas has been growing at a breakneck pace, and we must be prepared with water resources needed to sustain this growth.  By 2070, the population is expected to grow by another 70% from 29.7 million in 2020 to nearly 51.5 million people in 2070.

Last Monday, SB 28 passed the Senate. This bill establishes the Texas Water Fund and the New Water Supply Fund which will create a solid future for water infrastructure and supply in the state. With this action, Texas is demonstrating long-term thinking to ensure our grandkids – and their kids – have the water they will need.   

With our booming population, Texas must plan ahead so we have the water we need for residential homes, businesses, farming, ranching and a host of other needs. SB 28 is an important step that will need to be approved by voters in a November constitutional referendum.

Banning Government Vaccine Mandates

Last Monday, we passed SB 29 which would prohibit any state entity, state agency, or local governmental entity from implementing, ordering, or otherwise imposing a mandate, regardless of variant, that would:

  • Require an individual to wear a facemask or face covering to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • Require an individual to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • Require the closure of a private business, school, open enrollment charter school, or private school to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Protecting Children:  Banning Drag Shows Where Children Are Present

We’ve seen the outrageous examples, and we’ve watched in horror as these incidents seem to grow: inappropriate, sexually-themed drag shows where children are present.  It’s frankly disheartening that we’ve reached a point where legislators have to address this matter, but that is where we are. As a result, we are taking action. 

SB 12, passed last week, would impose fines on businesses who present sexually themed performances to children.  SB 12 will levy a $10,000 fine on businesses that host drag shows considered sexually oriented where children are present. Performers violating the proposed restriction would also face a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in up to a year in jail, a $4,000 fine or both.

We also passed SB 1601, which will deny funding to municipal libraries that host drag story time performances in front of children.

Making Texas Safer, Ensuring Justice, Stopping Rogue Judges and Prosecutors

Last week we passed a series of bills to strengthen our criminal justice system and crack down on violent criminals.

First, SB 20 addresses the trend of some Texas prosecutors who adopt internal policies refusing to prosecute certain laws. SB 20 bars prosecuting attorneys from refusing to prosecute a class or type of criminal offense, other than to comply with an injunction, judgment, or order issued by a court.  A prosecuting attorney who violates these provisions commits “official misconduct” and would be subject to removal.

Next, SB 21 addresses certain judges who are abusing their judicial discretion, completely disregarding the law to carry out their personal political agenda.  SB 21 would expand the Legislature and Commission on Judicial Conduct’s ability to investigate a judge when there is persistent or willful violation of the process for setting bail.  The bill would also establish a more expedient review of complaints submitted to the commission regarding judicial misconduct and limit a judge’s ability to serve as a visiting judge if they have received multiple sanctions from the commission.

Finally, under SB 23, criminals who use a gun during a violent crime will receive a minimum ten-year mandatory sentence. 

Cracking Down on Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converters are legally required in Texas and all other states, and theft of these devices – which can be removed in less than a minute – continues to be a huge problem.  Thieves target these devices because they contain precious metals such as palladium, rhodium and platinum, which are worth thousands of dollars per ounce. 

To provide law enforcement with another tool to combat catalytic converter theft rings, we unanimously passed SB 224, the Darren Almendarez Act. This bill makes catalytic converter theft a state jail felony under the criminal mischief statute if a motor vehicle is damaged, destroyed, or tampered with during the removal or attempted removal of a catalytic converter. To underscore the urgency of this problem, we passed an amendment to make this bill go into effect immediately as soon as it is passed by the Texas House.   

Honoring the Texas State Guard in the Senate

It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve in the Texas State Guard for many years. This week, the senior leadership class of the Texas State Guard was in Austin learning about the legislative and budget process as part of their senior leaders course. The Texas State Guard provides help for our citizens during emergencies and disasters, as well as assisting with border security and community service. It began in 1941 and is the largest federally-authorized state defense force in the country.

Banning Ranked Choice Voting

A disturbing trend over the last few years has been the emergence of “Ranked Choice Voting”, whereby voters rank candidates in order of preference which eliminates the need for a runoff election in the event no one receives a majority.  If none of the candidates were chosen as the number one pick by a majority of voters in the first round, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated from the ballot. People who selected that lowest-performing candidate as their top pick would automatically have their votes changed to their second choice. Then the scores would be repeatedly recalculated until one of the candidates finally won a majority as the second, third, or even fourth choice of voters.  This could lead to a scenario where a voter’s ballot might wind up being cast for the candidate he ranked far below his first choice—someone for whom he would never support in a traditional voting system.  

Ranked Choice Voting is fraught with problems, including ballots being thrown out when voters fail to rank all candidates and their first choice is eliminated.  It’s confusing, and allows candidates to win who are not supported by a majority of voters. That is why last week the Senate passed SB 921, which bans Ranked Choice Voting in Texas.  Both the Texas Republican Party and the Republican National Committee have passed resolutions opposing Ranked Choice Voting.

This week, students from Trinity Christian Academy were at the capitol and prayed for me.   Such an encouragement!

Cheryl and David Barton (left) and their son Tim Barton (right) were in town last week.   David and Tim testified in support of my “Ten Commandments” legislation, which I will outline in a future newsletter.

Grid Security, Gender Modification, Teacher Retirement, Parker County Day

April 3, 2023

Governor Abbott Headlines Parker County Reagan Day Dinner

On Friday, one of the largest ever Parker County Reagan Day crowds turned out to hear from Governor Greg Abbott. I believe the strong attendance underscores the concern people have about the state of our nation and their willingness to be involved in the process. Gov. Abbott covered a number of subjects, including the need for school choice legislation. He pointed out that over 85% of local Republicans voted in support of the school choice statewide referendum that was on the GOP primary ballot last March. Gov. Abbott highlighted the legislature’s push for pay raises for teachers, a $15-$17 billion property tax cut that will be funded in large part by the state picking up a larger share of education funding, pay raises for teachers, and stronger border security. He discussed our efforts to dramatically raise the criminal penalties for illegal border entry, a measure we are certain will lead to a lawsuit from the federal government. This is a battle we want. Gov. Abbott also shared the good news on the strong Texas economy:  since March 2020, 35% of all new jobs created nationally were created in the Lone Star State.

It was great to have Gov. Abbott back in Parker County

I had the chance to catch up with Sheriff Russ Authier and his wife Linda.

It’s always good to see Charlie Gilchrist!

With Landon and Melissa Meeker

My Bill to Protect Grid Security Passes Senate Committee

In recent years we have seen an alarming number of targeted attacks on critical electric grid infrastructure, including electric substations both here in Texas and around the nation. In fact, a previous study by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded that by knocking out only nine of the country’s key 55,000 electric-transmission substations, saboteurs could cause a national blackout lasting for weeks – or longer. The Department of Energy has reported that attacks on electrical substations have increased each year since 2017.  Last year, there were 18 reported incidents at electrical stations in Texas. Fortunately, none resulted in significant damage or a loss of power. However, over the past few months, alone, we have seen the impact that an attack on the electrical facilities can have.

  • In September 2022, at least six substations were attacked in Florida, resulting in power outages.
  • In November 2022, an electrical substation in Oregon was attacked, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and a loss of power to more than 6,000 people.
  • In December 2022, two electrical substations in North Carolina were attacked with firearms, resulting in a loss of power to more than 45,000 people.
  • Also in December 2022, on Christmas, four substations in Washington State were attacked, resulting in a loss of power to more than 20,000 people.  

Furthermore, presently the penalties are not commensurate with the extreme level of damage and even loss of life that these actions can cause. That is why I have authored a bill to substantially increase the penalties for committing acts of terror by knocking out power. These intentional outages can cause millions of dollars of damage from lost business and personal productivity, spoilage from food, and other inconveniences. Far more concerning is the potential loss of life from those who rely on breathing equipment or other life-saving devices.

Therefore, SB 947 creates a new criminal offense for intentionally damaging critical electric grid infrastructure.  There are penalty enhancements if the act results in the death of an individual, is committed by cyber attack, drone, firearm or an explosive, or causes more than $100,000 in actual physical damage to the infrastructure facility.  SB 947 would also allows us to charge people with manslaughter if this action causes death. This bill sends a message: if you engage in these reckless, dangerous acts in Texas, you will be in jail for a long time.

Senate Passes Ban on Biological Men Competing in Girls Sports

I updated you a couple of weeks ago of my support for SB 15, which bans the practice of biological men seeking to unfairly compete against women in college athletics.  I’m pleased to report that last week, SB 15 passed the full Texas Senate. 

Stopping this practice is a matter of fairness and safety. It’s simply indefensible that a young woman can train her entire life, aspiring to achieve her dream of winning a competition in swimming, track, or any number of sports – only to have that dream destroyed by the whims of political correctness.  It is an indisputable fact that men have significant physiological advantages over women. This bill requires collegiate athletes to compete on the team according to their biological sex, as correctly stated on the birth certificate, provides whistleblower protections for students who report violations of this bill, and permits a person to bring a civil action for injunctive relief against an institution of higher education or intercollegiate athletic team for a violation of the bill.

Banning Dangerous, Unproven Gender Modification Procedures

This past week we also took action on a bill to ban gender modification for minors in Texas.  SB 14 would prohibit people under the age of 18 from receiving hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or surgery for the purposes of transitioning from one gender to another. This shouldn’t be controversial: these are life and body altering, irreversible decisions, and we owe it to the children of Texas to ensure the highest standards of care are followed. The data to justify allowing these procedures to continue simply doesn’t exist.

There has been an enormous proliferation of clinics catering to these modification procedures, beginning with the first one in Boston about 15 years ago; today, there are more than 100 such facilities. European countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and the U.K) which had permissive policies concerning these procedures have just recently begun reckoning with the outcomes and are walking back their advocacy of these procedures for minors.

Honoring Our Commitment to Retired Teachers

Last week, the Senate passed SB 10, continuing the Legislature’s commitment to retired teachers.  Here is an overview of the plan:

  • The bill provides a $7,500 one-time stipend to nearly 186,000 eligible retirees that are 75 years of age and older, many of whom struggle financially with rising costs across the board.  
  • The bill provides a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to about 176,000 eligible retirees that retired between September 1, 2013 and January 1, 2022. 
  • Finally, we provide a 4% COLA to about 270,000 eligible retirees that retired prior to September 1, 2013. 

Parker County Day At the State Capitol

A large delegation of Parker County citizens and community leaders made their presence known at the state capitol, and it was good to see so many friends from back home. We honored the group in both the House and the Senate with resolutions and organized an evening tour of the capitol. We had good policy discussions on issues relevant to the district, and I always appreciate the opportunity to hear from those I represent. Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to be in Austin, weigh in on local issues, and enjoy your state capitol. You are always welcome in our office.

We had an impressive turnout for Parker County Day at the Capitol. I appreciate how many local citizens take the time to be engaged and stay involved. 

Parker County Judge Pat Deen, his staff, and other leaders involved in promoting transportation solutions stopped by this week.  We discussed the possible expansion of I-20 coming out of Fort Worth.

Tammy Gazzola, President of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, stopped by our office recently.  She was kind enough to bring along peach cookies made by the Back Home Back Bakery and present them to me and my Chief of Staff Ashley Westenhover.  The Annual Weatherford Peach Festival will be held this year on Saturday, July 8.   Last year, more than 40,000 people attended this one day event.

I was pleased to have Colby and Riley Taylor, sons of Toby & Beth Taylor of Weatherford, serve as “Pages of the Day.”

  Judy Flanagin of my staff was in Cleburne this week, where she helped to deliver “Meals on Wheels”.

Property Tax Relief, Honoring Heroes, Down Syndrome Day

March 26, 2023

With each passing week the pace is picking up and solid legislation anchored in conservative principles is moving along in the legislative process. At the same time we are meeting constituents from across the district – something I always enjoy.  Here’s a look back over a few highlights from the past week.

 Texas Senate Passes Historic Property Tax Relief

I’m pleased to report that the Senate voted this week to provide historic, significant property tax relief to our citizens. The Senate Tax Relief Plan, composed of Senate Bills 3, 4, and 5, will put more money back in the pockets of all taxpayers. Under this plan, 5.72 million homesteads will save nearly $800 a year (by raising the Homestead Exemption to $70,000 – a 75% increase), providing an unprecedented $16.5 billion in tax relief for Texans.

SB 3 will also implement the voter-approved Homestead Exemption increase from $25,000 to $40,000 for all over-65 and disabled homesteads from Propositions 1 and 2 in May of 2022. This $100,000 exemption in total for seniors that have paid a lifetime of taxes saves them over $1,000 per year.

With the largest budget surplus in state history legislators have the obligation to return that money back to the citizens who funded the surplus in the first place. Thankfully, Texas has no income tax, so our best avenue to provide relief is to reduce property taxes.   

For businesses, for the first time in history we provide a reduction in the business inventory tax and a reduction in the business personal property tax.  SB 5 will create an Inventory Tax Credit totaling $1.05 billion and raises the Business Personal Property Exemption to $25,000 from $2,500, saving $450 million.

This bill must still pass through the House of Representatives before going to the Governor’s desk.

Ending Vehicle Inspections

The legislature is working on high profile, high priority issues such as property tax relief, border security, reforming the grid, protecting our kids, and more.  But you’d be surprised to know how often I hear from citizens who complain to me about the frustration of dealing with annual vehicle inspections. 

This week in the Senate Transportation Committee I heard testimony on a bill that would end the requirement of annual vehicle inspections. The majority of U.S. states do not require regular inspections. In fact, Texas is one of only 14 states that do so. The federal government ended its vehicle safety inspection program in 1976.  There is no data which shows there was any increase in accidents related to that decision. Under this proposed bill, emissions tests would still be required in 17 counties – mostly in the urban/suburban areas. About 24 million vehicles are currently impacted by the annual inspection process, and there is no evidence that these inspections reduce accidents and fatalities on our roads and highways. Most fatalities are caused by alcohol, not wearing seatbelts, and other factors. 

Down Syndrome Day Recognized in Texas Senate 

Tuesday was World Down Syndrome Day which highlights the need for full inclusion for people with Down Syndrome.  Did you know that one in 700 children are born with Downs? As Terry and I have seen with our two granddaughters these special kids can have a wonderful opportunity for a meaningful life if they are in the right home. 

Representatives from at least 15 organizations involved in supporting families with Down Syndrome were recognized in the Senate Chamber gallery. To raise awareness for the day many people wear a pair of mismatched, brightly colored socks.  If you’d like to view the resolution I presented skip ahead to 1:02:30 at the following link:

“Crazy Sock Day” is part of World Down Syndrome Day, and we had socks delivered to every member of the Senate.  Here are some of my brave colleagues who participated!

National Medal of Honor Recipients Honored in Texas Senate; National Medal of Honor Museum to Open in Arlington

This week provided the opportunity to recognize two Medal of Honor recipients who reside here in Texas. The Medal of Honor – the highest award for military valor in action – is awarded to American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardians, and coast guardsmen who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor, conspicuous gallantry, and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. The medal was established under President Lincoln and the first medal was awarded on March 25, 1863. Since that time 3,535 medals have been awarded.

Today, there are only 65 recipients alive. Ten reside in Texas, and two of those men joined us in the Texas Senate on Tuesday: Gen. Patrick Brady and Petty Officer Michael Thornton.  In 2025 Tarrant County will be front and center in honoring all of these brave Americans when the National Medal of Honor Museum, dedicated to sharing the stories and values of these incredible heroes, will open.  I’m especially excited that through tours, classes and online/virtual education, younger generations of Americans will learn the true meaning of patriotism and the sacrifices made by these selfless Americans.  You can learn more about the museum at https://mohmuseumorg.

My three granddaughters Georgia, Peyton, and Molly Kate with Medal of Honor recipients Gen. Patrick Brady, Petty Officer Michael Thornton, and Arlington city leaders.

For years I have followed the writings and research of Stephen Moore, a distinguished fellow in economics at The Heritage Foundation. One of our nation’s brightest conservative thinkers, he is a former member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. At Heritage, Moore focuses on ways to help the United States retain its position as the global economic superpower.  I was pleased he visited the Texas Capitol this week.  

Soil and Water Conservation District Leadership Visits Austin

Board Members of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) from Parker, Palo Pinto, Johnson and Brown counties stopped by our office this week.  Formed by a vote of landowners within the boundaries of each district, a SWCD operates as a subdivision of state government, much like a county or school district.  Overseen by farmers and ranchers who reside within each district, these entities do important work in promoting soil and water conservation, combating soil and water erosion,
and enhancing water quality and quantity.

Lockheed Martin in Tarrant County: Equipping Our Military to Defend Freedom Around the World

Lockheed Martin employs over 18,000 Texans at their Fort Worth production facility and I’m proud to represent thousands of those people who reside in SD 10.  This week Director of Government Relations Eric Fox and Senior Manager of Government Relations Becky Redman stopped by to present our office with replicas of the three versions of the F-35 produced in Tarrant County. This is the only factory in the world that is producing a 5th generation Stealth Airplane – the Lighting II.  The F-35A is made for the U.S. Air Force and our most trusted allies; the F-35B is made for the U.S. Marine Corps; and the F-35C is made for the U.S. Navy.  It was a tremendous honor to be in Israel when the first F-35’s were delivered there back in 2016.

Our office now proudly displays the three versions of the F-35 produced at
Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. 

As part of Tarrant County Day at the State Capitol, members of the Fort Worth City Council

and other city leaders stopped by to say hello.

My three granddaughters chatting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the Senate chamber on Tuesday when they served as Senate pages.  
From left to right:  Molly Kate, Georgia, and Peyton.