Gov. Abbott Announces Special Session of Legislature
In a press conference on June 6, Governor Greg Abbott announced a Special Session of the Texas Legislature that will convene on July 18, 2017. In Texas, the Governor alone can set the agenda for a special session of the Legislature. Among Abbott’s 19 priorities include some priority items of the Texas Association of Builders (TAB).
One of Gov. Abbott’s requirements that the Legislature take up is reigning in local regulations- specifically mentioning tree regulation rights determination. The development industry has won some battles on these issues recently, so it could be interesting to see what will emerge from the special session.
Gov. Abbott also demanded that the Legislature produce changes in property tax laws and cities’ ability to annex outlying areas. This is part of a school finance overhaul and a tax relief push by Gov. Abbott, which he has signaled as two of his priorities since he was elected in 2014. This legislation will be contentious, as property taxes and school finance are intricately linked and create divisions among economic, geographic, and social lines.
One of the more ambitious requests of Gov. Abbott was a bill or Constitutional Amendment to require that state and local governments in Texas cap the growth of their budgets by a measure of the increase in population plus inflation. This agenda item will be fiercely opposed by the cities in Texas, who argue that without increased budgets they will not be able to maintain services at satisfactory levels. The state of Texas is Constitutionally required to balance it’s biennial budget, and the Governor hopes to extend this requirement to cities.
All of the combined agenda items make for a hotly contested and busy special session in July. Legislators will meet for 30 days.