Friday, July 22, 2005

Second Special Session begins

Hope that all of my faithful readers are well. I've been very busy with my mother's poor health situation. She has help (including my Dad) but is in need of 24-hour care.

So the second special session has begun. In articles that I've been reading about the new special session, there is a lot of pessimism is in the air with concerns that either an inequitable bill favoring the super-rich districts like Highland Park in Texas will pass, or that the pursuit of unanimity in both chambers is equally difficult just as it was in both the regular and first special legislative sessions. As you can see from the report below, compliments of the Texas LULAC listserv, (unrepresentative) conference committees will begin negotiations of the education and tax bills shortly

The governor appears to be responding, in part, to Comptroller Carole Strayhorn's implicit challenge when she refers to him as "Do-Nothing Perry."

Still, columnists throughout the state are saying that a bad school funding or tax bill is not better than no legislation getting passed at all. I agree. So there is where we are in Texas school funding politics. -Angela

Friday, July 22, 2005
Second Special Session begins

The Second Called Special Session started on Thursday at 10 a.m. under the call of passing legislation on school finance and reform, tax reform, telecommunications, judicial pay raises, and tuition revenue bonds. The Governor has vowed to keep legislators in Austin until school finance reform and property tax relief are addressed.

The House named select committees for both the education bill, HB 2, and the tax bill, HB 3. The following are members of the Select Committee on Public Education Reform:

Rep. Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington
Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas
Rep. Dianne Delisi, R-Temple
Rep. Bill Keffer, R-Dallas
Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands

Members of the members of the Select Committee on Property Tax Relief are:

Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland
Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton
Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa
Rep. David Swinford, R-Amarillo
Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth

These were the conferees named to the bill during the Regular and First Called Special Sessions, and will be the only members voting on the bill in committee this Special Session.

The Senate Committee on Education passed out its education bill, SB 2. The bill is the same bill that was passed by the Senate at the end of the Regular Session. The House Select Committee on Education Reform also passed out HB 2. However, its version of the education bill is the conference committee report from the First Called Special Session. Therefore, the Senate and House will be considering different versions
of the education bill on their respective floors next week.

The House Select Committee on Property Tax Relief also passed out HB 3.
The current proposal would raise the 6.25 percent state sales tax by
three-quarters of a cent per dollar, increase the cigarette tax by $1
per pack, and close loopholes in the corporate franchise tax. Certain
services, including auto repair services, would be subject to sales tax.
The proposal also lowers the cap on school operating taxes by 25 cents
per $100 valuation next year and more in subsequent years.

The Senate plans to convene on Monday at 1:30 pm to hear SB 2. Sen.
Shapiro has stated that she is willing to consider amendments at that
time. The House will convene at 10 a.m. on Monday, and plans to take up
the tax bill on Tuesday and the education bill on Wednesday. The
conference committees will likely begin negotiations of the education
and tax bills shortly thereafter.

The fate of HB 1, the appropriations bill from the First Called Special
Session, is still uncertain. The Governor has yet to sign or veto the
legislation, and there has been no comparable legislation filed for the
Second Called Special Session at this time. It is uncertain whether the
Legislative Budget Board can implement Budget Execution Authority while
the Legislature is in session. A veto of HB 1 could greatly affect the
opening of the 2005-06 school year.

Second Special Session Proclamation

Governor Perry's proclamation (pdf) This link opens in a new window. calling the Texas Legislature back for the 79th Legislature, Second Called Session.

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