Legislation requiring the reappraisal of flood-damaged properties by all local governments across Texas suffered a “slow death” in the state Senate, and the cause could be political backbiting.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the property tax reform bill came within a single round of votes four separate times, but on each occasion it failed to pass.
Some like Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, claim Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is holding up the bill she authored on purpose, disgruntled over his notorious ‘bathroom bill’ not getting signed into law this past legislative session. Davis was an outspoken opponent of Patrick’s bill.
“I have little doubt its slow death in the Senate is because of social issues like the bathroom bill,” she told the Chronicle.
If it passed, it would have gone into affect Sept. 1 and required flood-damaged property to be reevaluated as well as new property tax values to be assessed. A home valued at $200,000 before Harvey and reduced to $30,000 after would save $700 in school taxes alone this tax year, according to the Texas Taxpayers and Research Organization.
Similar bills were passed unanimously in the Senate, and her bill, HB 513, actually flew through the House receiving all ‘yes’ votes. Once Davis’ legislation reached the Senate, it ran into trouble.
A version of her bill was sent to the Senate during the special session, and still never reached the governor’s desk. Yet again, the idea was added to another bill on property tax reform, and the Senate failed to concur.
A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Patrick said the House is at fault for not passing the bill, not Patrick. He told the Chronicle another earlier bill not authored by Davis could have been passed, and the House lagged on that one as well. Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, says that’s not necessarily true.
That earlier bill was never re-filed, and the House could have passed Davis’ bill with the same idea. Instead, Davis’ bill got held up. Bonnen contends the House engaged in “junior high politics” and held the bill up on purpose over a grudge with Davis.
“It was the only bill that would have provided Texas residents real property tax relief, yet the Senate didn’t even try,” Bonner said in an interview.
His frustration will likely be echoed by the Texans who could have been helped if the bill had passed to the governor’s desk.