Early Legislative Snapshot

As this legislative session gears up in Austin and most of the focus so far has been on the budget and Voter ID, the stuff that fuels our once every two year flurry continues to stockpile… bills. While some look pretty good, others are down right ugly.

At this point there have been 1,214 bills filed in the House and 537 in the Senate.

Some are quite good:

Rep. Callegari’s HB 380 calls for a constitutional amendment to limit spending to inflation + population growth. Rep. Ken Paxton has also introduced spending limit legislation, HJR 70.

Bills filed from Sen. Patrick and Representatives Riddle, King, Laudenberg, and others aim to protect taxpayers (SB 129, HB 23, HB 312, SB 125, HB 476, HB 146).

Others are not so admirable…

As he did last time, Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) has filed HB 354 to create a state income tax (and all the trappings of its enforcement) on those making over $150,000. Representative Burnam struck out during his last at-bat on this issue having been unable to garner even enough support from Ways and Means Chairman Oliveira (a tax-and-spend liberal) to push it out of committee. This notion seems quite ridiculous, but perhaps Mr. Burnam thinks he can gain more traction for his income tax while the state is dealing with a challenging budgetary process.

In another stroke of ill-advised legislation, Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas) has proposed HB 880 to appropriate $35 million from the general revenue fund to TxDOT to build a streetcar line connecting downtown Dallas to Oak Cliff. While everyone else is focused on the challenge of prioritizing and balancing the budget, Mr. Alonzo wants to take additional money out of our already more limited pot to build toy trains in downtown Dallas.

As if the consideration of an income tax and boondoggle projects wasn’t enough, Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) would like to enable a local tax-hike. SB 349 would increase the hotel occupancy tax from 7% to 9%. That’s right, a clean and simple tax-hike. Originally, a Tyler paper implicated Sen. Eltife and Rep. Berman in this scheme, but Mr. Berman has made it very clear he does not support this legislation. Clearly, Mr. Eltife did not hear the voters in November: “no new taxes!”

Andrew Kerr is the Executive Director of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility

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