codeFrom staff reports

Thinking about building a new pool? You may find some new hoops to jump through in the next couple of years, thanks to a new bill signed into law in Texas.

The Texas legislature passed HB 2858 in the last legislative session. The bill allows municipalities in the state to require model standards for building, remodeling and repairing pools and spas.

The legislature adopted the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC), which was developed by the International Code Council in partnership with the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (formerly the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals and the National Swimming Pool Foundation). (more…)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen announced both chambers of the state legislature had come to an agreement on a sweeping school finance and property tax relief bill.

Squeaking in just before May 27 and sine die, lawmakers in the state House and Senate passed a school finance bill that will provide raises for teachers, pre-K, and property tax relief.

The final OK comes a day after Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced that the two chambers had managed to come to a compromise on competing bills to hammer out school finance and property tax relief measures.

“We would not be here today, making the announcement we are about to make, without the tireless efforts of the members of the Texas House and Senate,” Abbott told reporters gathered at the Governor’s Mansion Thursday. All three had promised at the beginning of the legislative session that the focus would be on school finance reform and property tax relief.

“We’re here to tell you we’ve been all together and we’ve stayed all together,” Bonnen said. “We didn’t get here without being a team.” (more…)

NeaveOn the heels of the revelation that Dallas County is suing State Rep. Victoria Neave for more than $26,000 in late property taxes on her Abrams Road home, Richardson ISD has filed documentation that would bring Neave’s total delinquent tax tab to more than $50,000.

The district filed an intervening motion March 1 that added its $23,948.58 to Neave’s previously reported $26,760.73 the county already named in the suit filed on Feb. 28.

The potential for the intervention was mentioned in the original suit, which said, in part, that Richardson would likely also join as a party to the suit, “because it may have a claim for delinquent taxes against all or part of the same property.”

Neave represents District 107, which includes parts of East Dallas and Mesquite. (more…)

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen took the gavel as Speaker of the House yesterday, and asked for cooperation across the aisles (Photo courtesy Rep. Bonnen’s Facebook page).

Bathrooms? That’s so 2017. The new hot legislative priorities lighting up Austin this legislative session are school finance and property taxes.

Think I’m kidding? New House Speaker Dennis Bonnen put it on a cup — actually, every cup in the Senate lounge is now emblazoned with “School Finance Reform, The Time Is Now.”

The session gaveled in knowing already that state Comptroller Glenn Hegar had told them that they would have about 8.1 percent more in funding available for public programs like schools and healthcare in the next two years, for about a $119.1 billion state budget. But he also cautioned legislators that they wouldn’t be able to make it rain — oil prices are falling and the U.S. economy is uncertain, leaving any prognostication as to how revenue will look a bit muddled.

But one couldn’t help but notice a sense of cooperation in both houses of the state legislature, one not generally felt in the last session, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick embarked on a much-lamented quest for passage of a bathroom bill and school vouchers, both of which failed.

Bonnen, in his address Tuesday, made a plea for more bipartisanship.

“In a state as big and diverse as Texas, there are plenty of ideas about what we should do on any one issue and these ideas often point in different directions,” Bonnen said. “It’s our job to reconcile the differences.”

The makeup of the two bodies is also different this time around. Democrats gained 12 seats in the house last November, with Republicans holding the Texas House with 83 seats to Democrats’ 67. In the Senate, there are 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Thanks to the three-fifths rule, a kill on an unpopular GOP bill like a bathroom bill would be just one Republican renegade away, unlike the last session, when the Democrats were outnumbered 20 to 10.

This pivot away from the unpopular bathroom bill, especially (Patrick even called it “settled” when asked about it Wednesday), bodes well for proponents of retooling public education finance, as well as property owners looking for relief from rising property taxes. (more…)

collier

Houston businessman and Democrat Mike Collier filed at 1 p.m. Monday to run against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (Photo courtesy Mike Collier).

Mike Collier knows that there are people that care deeply about whether Texas stays red, turns blue, or goes purple — but it’s not his chief goal.

“My aspiration is political competition,” he said on a drive from Houston to Dallas last week. “I just want to see the end of this one-party system.”

Collier filed today to run as a Democrat against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and said he knows that running for a statewide seat as anything other than a Republican can be seen to some as a bit quixotic.

But is it really? The Houston businessman may have seemed like a long shot when he first announced he was considering a run several months ago, but recent successes this month in other GOP stronghold areas has made the whole prospect less far-fetched.

Collier said his platform’s foundation is in two intersecting areas — public education and property taxes. For an hour, CandysDirt.com engaged in a question and answer session with the candidate. Below are some of his responses. (more…)

When the Texas legislature gavels into session in January, education will be a hot topic. (Photo courtesy Nicolas Henderson/Flickr)

When the Texas legislature gavels into session in January, education will be a hot topic. (Photo courtesy Nicolas Henderson/Flickr)

When the Texas legislature reconvenes January 10, it will have a laundry list of things to tackle – some controversial, some mundane (you can keep up to date on the full list of bills filed here). But some of the biggest issues will involve the trajectory of public education in the state.

While we can’t provide an exhaustive list of everything the legislature will address this session (although rest assured – we’ll be keeping you abreast of the most vital pieces of legislation), I thought it would be a good idea to look at three key things legislature will have to address this session.

The biggest, of course, will be school finance. This is the one that not only affects how schools budget for education and innovation, but also how good and great schools stay good and great schools, and schools that need improvement have the tools to improve. And this, of course, directly impacts the bottom lines of Realtors and homebuyers and sellers, since schools are frequently in the top five considerations when it comes to looking for that family abode.

And, of course, school finances are currently tied to property taxes, which makes whatever the legislature does of vital importance to homeowners. And trust me, the legislature will have to do something – the courts have mandated it. It won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy, but expect much discussion over better funding formulas in the 85th legislative session. (more…)