Priority Bills for the 88th Legislative Session
The 88th Texas Legislature is well underway and lawmakers are seeking to make sure their priority legislation makes its’ way to the Governor’s desk. There’s currently well over eight thousand bills filed in both the Texas House and Senate, and the “big three” have indicated they have their focus on a robust policy agenda. Here’s what we know:
Governor Greg Abbott delivered his third inaugural address at the beginning of the session and highlighted his policy agenda. Most notably, the governor indicated he would like to see record tax cuts made with the historic budget surplus of $32.7 billion, Abbott noted that he will focus on property tax relief emphasizing that he will deliver the “largest property tax cut in the history of the state of Texas.” HB 1 is the House’s preliminary draft of the 2024-25 biennium state budget, allocating more than $288 billion dollars.
For his part Speaker Phelan has spoken in favor of HB 2, a bill filed by Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, HB 2 would lower the cap on yearly appraisal increases from 10% to 5% and apply to all properties in Texas, rather than just homesteads.
In addition, both Governor Abbott and Speaker Phelan signaled that school safety remains an issue of concern. The current House base budget allotment for public education remains at $38.4 billion, which fully funds enrollment growth requirements under House Bill 3 from the 86th legislature. Filed by Rep. Dustin Burrows, HB 3 would clarify how the Texas School Safety Center and the Texas Education Agency are responsible for working together to develop and enforce school safety requirements, and conduct safety audits on school campuses.
Lt.Gov. Dan Patrick largely seconded the governor and speaker on priority legislation this session. As he noted in his speech delivered at the Inauguration on January 17th, he hopes to capitalize on the record budget surplus by delivering tax cuts for Texans saying, “As I have stated previously, multiple times, first and foremost, we must return a significant portion of the record surplus to those who created it: the taxpayers,” Patrick said. “That is why we have increased the homestead exemption to $70,000 in our base budget.” Beyond property taxes, Lt.Gov. Patrick voiced his support of school choice and enhanced border security.
While there is still a way to go until Sine Die, there are several key bills that both the big three and lawmakers alike agree are key pieces of legislation they wish to see pass in the 88th legislation session. Here are just a few:
House Bill 4: Data privacy
Filed by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, HB 4 would give Texans the right to request a copy of their personal data that have been collected by a company to examine or review, and request the company to delete it. It also would create new restrictions for companies who collect consumers’ personal data.
House Bill 5: economic development
Filed by Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, HB 5 would create economic incentives for companies to base large-scale projects related to manufacturing, national security and energy infrastructure in Texas, to create new high-paying jobs and encourage economic development and job growth in the state.
House Bill 6: Increased penalties for fentanyl-related crimes
Filed by Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, HB 6 would increase the punishments for many fentanyl-related crimes to first-degree felonies.
House Bill 9: Rural broadband infrastructure
Filed by Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, HB 9 would create the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund to appropriate money to expand and ensure access to reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity across the state
House Bill 12: Expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage
Filed by Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, HB 12 would expand Medicaid coverage for new moms to 12 months after giving birth.
House Bill 4340: Establishing education savings account program
Filed by Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, HB 4340 would create the establishment of the Education Savings Account Program to allow certain children to use public money to pursue educational alternatives to public schools and an insurance premium tax credit.