The Texas House of Representatives is set to take up and debate two major local government reforms that, if done right, will positively impact the lives of millions of Texans. For conservative policy wonks, the next 48 hours promise to be nothing short of historic.
First up today in the House is Senate Bill 6, a bill to reform municipal annexation practices, particularly those allowing cities to forcibly annex property owners without their consent. The protections afforded in the bill would give Texans living just outside large cities a chance to vote on annexation. Though the bill is bracketed to only apply in certain areas, expect at least a few amendments to try to expand these protections to specific districts or possibly even statewide.
Tomorrow, the House will debate Senate Bill 1, a bill that promises to introduce some very positive accountability elements into the property tax system. Specifically, the bill would reduce the rollback tax rate (the House version would set it at 6 percent while the Senate has passed a bill setting it at 4 percent) and require an election to occur automatically if a city, county or special district wants to go above the reduced rollback rate. Together, these have been called “the ultimate form of local control.”
If these two bills survive the legislative process and become law, expect a dramatically different local public finance landscape that elevates property rights, accountability, and prioritization to benefit of all.