My 5 cents: property tax relief bills pass the House and Senate

By Texas State Senator Robert Nichols (Texas Senate 3)

The Legislature adjourned Sine Die for, hopefully, the last time this year after completing our third special session. While we’ve accomplished a lot of great things for the state over the past ten months, I’m happy to be back in East Texas.

Here are five things that are going on in your condition:

  • Redistribution maps finalized, sent to the Governor

The legislature has completed the third called special session of the year and has completed the difficult process of redistribution. The state has grown significantly over the past decade, forcing the ideal size of the state Senate districts to increase to 940,178 people. Due to these changes, Senate District 3 (SD-3) has seen some changes in the makeup of the district. Previously, SD-3 consisted of 19 counties in eastern Texas, including the northern half of Montgomery County. After the redistribution process, SD-3 will no longer include San Jacinto County or Montgomery County. Instead, the district will now include most of Jefferson County, including Beaumont, Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, and part of Port Arthur.

I have represented part of Montgomery County and all of San Jacinto County since taking office in 2007, so I will miss all the friends I made in those areas. However, I look forward to meeting and representing the people of Jefferson County. I will be running for re-election in the new district, but I will still represent my current district until the 88th Legislature meets in 2023 and I am sworn in. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to represent East Texans in the Legislature, and I hope to continue to do so.

  • Property tax relief measures pass both chambers

In the closing hours of this special session, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 2, which put forward a constitutional amendment to the Texans to lower their property taxes. SJR 2 will increase the homestead exemption from $ 25,000 in the home’s appraised value to $ 40,000, which equates to a 60% increase over existing law. In addition, school districts will be kept harmless, which means that the money for the reduction in property taxes will come from the state. Both chambers unanimously approved the measure and it is now up to voters in May 2022 to approve the constitutional amendment.

After Governor Abbott added higher education improvements to the Special Session’s call, the House and Senate worked quickly to craft a proposal for more than $ 3 billion in institutional investment projects. higher education. Every region of the state will see a state investment in campus improvement. In Senate District 3, Stephen F. Austin State University received over $ 44 million for an interdisciplinary and applied science building and Lamar State College – Orange received over $ 37 million for a new building university and IT services. CCAPs are bonds secured by tuition and other fees, but repaid with public funds over a series of years. The legislature has earmarked $ 325 million in federal bailout funds as a down payment for these projects.

  • Bill clarifies tuition eligibility for dependents of deceased first responders

Both the House and Senate this week passed House Bill 133, which clarifies eligibility for higher education benefits for children and dependents of deceased first responders. The law came after a Fort Bend County MP was killed by friendly fire in May 2020. MP Caleb Rule is survived by his wife and four children, including his daughter who graduated from high school on the day of his death. Since she was already 18 at the time of her death, she was not eligible for survivor tuition benefits. Therefore, the Caleb Rule Act was passed to increase survivor benefits to include college age children to receive assistance with tuition fees. The legislation was passed unanimously in both houses and is now heading to the governor’s office.

  • WorkForce Solutions Deep East Texas Provides Services to Texans Facing Employment Barriers

WorkForce Solutions Deep East Texas provides vocational rehabilitation services to East Texans over the age of 14 with a disability that is a barrier to finding employment. These could be mental health issues, deafness, alcoholism, learning disabilities, or other disabilities. WorkForce Solutions can help put customers in touch with professionals to check for disabilities, so Texans don’t have to come up with a diagnosis in hand. Services are tailored to each individual and can include job training, social learning experiences or even vehicle modifications for people with physical disabilities. To learn more, visit http://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/vocational-rehabilitation-services.

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