'Inside the TCMA' featured Article
Texas Legislative Update
Jared Patterson  |  July 12, 2019

Our On January 21 – 22, TCMA members took the I-35 challenge to convene in Austin, and the Interstate didn’t fail to live up to its reputation! With the legislature in session, the frenzy had begun with committee assignments being overseen by the new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Dennis Bonnen.

Meanwhile, our members came together to discuss issues facing manufacturing, especially our metal casting industry. This trek to Austin follows our mission statement, “To promote the common interest of the metal casting industry through the development of an effective legislative action program and improve communications with elected officials.”

Major legislation of interest to the Texas Cast Metals Association:

House Bill 3 & Senate Bill 2: the single most pressing issue I hear about from my Denton County residents is the crushing property tax burden – both commercial and residential. It’s no secret that Texans pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

While homesteads receive a 10% appraisal cap, businesses enjoy no such exemption – making the property tax load even heavier to carry. By increasing the state share of education spending from 38% to 45%, House Bill 3 provides $5 billion in property tax relief. School district M&O rates will be lowered by an average of 8 cents statewide in 2020, and 13 cents in 2021

This will lead to meaningful, noticeable, actual property tax relief for homes and businesses. Senate Bill 2, though not forcing lower property taxes now, will help citizens ratchet down rates in the long run.  The measure forces cities and counties to hold an automatic ratification election if they adopt a tax rate raising 3.5% more revenue than in the previous year.

SB 2 also introduces a significant amount of transparency into the property tax system, creating new notices which will allow taxpayers to understand when a city, county, or school district is actually raising taxes.

The current system can confuse and mislead – with rising property values, keeping rates the same or even lowering them can still lead to a net tax increase. SB 2 will help combat that ruse, and empower voters to take control of the tax rate adoption process.

SB 698: I’m also acutely aware of the frustrations some industrial businesses experience obtaining permits through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Wait times for review and processing have been lengthy. Currently, TCEQ can assess a surcharge for expedited permitting if an individual is willing to pay for it. SB 698 allows that surcharge to be used to hire full-time employees for processing, instead of just overtime and contract employees. This should make it easier for TCEQ to do their jobs timely and accurately.

Jared Patterson
TCMA Vice-Chairman
Texas State Representative District 106