House Approves Hemp Production. On Wednesday, the House gave unanimous approval to HB 1325 by Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) to allow the farming and cultivation of industrial hemp, a cousin of the marijuana plant with low levels of psychoactive compounds. In addition to allowing farmers to grow hemp, the proposal would legalize the production of hemp-derived products with less than .3% THC (the same level authorized in the federal Farm Bill of 2018). If the bill becomes law, the Texas Department of Agriculture would need develop a regulatory and licensing process to be submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture for final approval.
House Moves to Loosen Alcohol Sales Rules. On Thursday, the House approved amendments to legislation extending Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (HB 1545 by Chris Paddie, R-Marshall) that would allow earlier beer and wine sales on Sundays and allow craft breweries to sell beer to-go. The amendments will not effect the operations of liquor stores, which cannot open on Sundays. The amended bill received preliminary approval by the House on a vote of 135-0, but will need to be finally passed by the House before going to the Senate.
House Committee Modifies SB 2. On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved SB 2, the Senate’s property tax proposal, after significantly modifying it to more closely resemble the House’s approach in HB 2. Under the version passed out of committee, cities and counties would be required to hold an election to raise more than an additional 3.5% in property tax revenue over the previous year, with a five-year carry-over provision that allows taxing units to “bank” unused revenue growth. School districts would be subject to a 2% revenue cap before an automatic election, while certain other taxing units like hospital districts or community college districts would remain at the current 8% trigger. The committee also struck provisions in the Senate bill that would have allowed some taxing units to opt-in to the bill’s provisions and made SB 2’s passage contingent on approval of HB 3, the school finance plan.
Senate Updates its School Finance Plan. On Thursday, Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) explained his proposal for reforming the state’s school finance system, which he plans to put in HB 3, the House’s version of the plan. The Senate proposal would increase base funding by $740 per student, increase outcomes-based funding for school districts, and includes a $5,000 pay raise for classroom teachers and librarians. The proposal would also limit growth in school district revenue starting in 2023 as a way to slow rising property taxes, with the state making up funds beyond that for districts experiencing significant property value increases. The Senate Education Committee will need to approve the plan before it can be considered by the full Senate.
Monday, May 6 is the last day for house committees to report house bills and house joint resolutions.
Other upcoming dates of interest:
- Friday, May 10: Last day for the House to consider consent house bills on 2nd or 3rd reading and all 3rd reading house bills or house joint resolutions on the supplemental calendar.
- Friday, May 17: Last day for the House to consider local house bills on 2nd and 3rd reading, and the first day the Senate can consider bills and resolutions the first day they are posted.
- Saturday, May 18: Last day for house committees to report senate bills and joint resolutions.
- Tuesday, May 21: Last day for the House to consider 2nd reading senate bills and senate joint resolutions on the daily or supplemental calendar.
- Wednesday, May 22: Last day for the House to consider local and consent senate bills on 2nd and 3rd
- Sunday, May 26: Last day for the House and Senate to concur in amendments or adopt conference committee reports.
- Monday, May 27: Last day of 86th Regular Session (sine die).
For more information on the Texas Legislature, visit https://capitol.texas.gov/