Last Week in the Legislature
By Kenneth Besserman
Director of Government Affairs and Special Counsel
May 14, 2021 | Issue No. 16
Success for TXCPA-Backed Legislation!
Abbott Signs Texas Franchise Tax Exception for Forgiven PPP Loans
HB 1195 (Rep. Geren/Sen. Hancock) which excludes loans forgiven under the federal Paycheck Protection Program from the Texas franchise tax was signed by Governor Greg Abbott on May 8. The bill had unanimous support in the Legislature making the bill effective immediately (effective on May 8. 2021). The new law will ensure that any upcoming Texas franchise tax filings will have the tax protections afforded by HB 1195.
Be on the lookout for guidance issued by the Texas Comptroller on the effects of HB 1195. Thank you to our advocates, Key Persons, and all our members for your advocacy and on this legislation. Your efforts made a difference. This was one of the very first bills signed into law by the governor this legislative session.
Deadline Day is Looming
We are entering the final weeks of the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. Every day that passes in these final weeks, hundreds of bills die. This week the Texas House has a Thursday deadline to pass any House bills on third reading – meaning if they do not pass this week, they will die and not be able to be considered by the Senate. While deadlines are not as firm in the Senate, with the intent calendar getting busier and busier there is less and less time for the Senate to debate bills on the floor.
While legislation is dying at a furious pace, other TXCPA legislative priorities are moving along well, and all indications are that our two remaining major bills will pass.
SB 297 (Sen. Perry/Rep. Button) – CPA licensee fingerprinting deadline extension – has passed the Senate and is now in the House Local & Consent Calendar Committee. This means that the bill does not have any voiced opposition and the Committee will likely recommend the legislation to be set on the House Local & Consent Calendar in the coming days and be debated on the House floor in the next week. All indications from legislators and our lobby team point towards passage soon and on to the Governor’s desk.
Another TXCPA priority is SB 6 (Sen. Hancock/Rep. Leach) SB 6 is the Pandemic Liability Act that addresses the expected lawsuits that will be filed in response to injuries or illnesses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation seeks to strike a balance between business interests and plaintiffs seeking redress in the courts. The legislation will protect businesses acting in good faith who are following governmental rules, regulations and guidance relating to business operations and health and safety issues. The legislation will not protect bad actors or those that flagrantly ignore governmental guidance. Plaintiffs will have to show some scientific connection between business actions and the injury sustained. SB 6 is still in the House but expected to be debated on the House floor in the coming days. As SB 6 was declared an emergency item by Abbott, the legislation is highly likely to pass the House and get to the Governor’s desk.
There are still a number of very important issues that the Legislature is debating that is taking up quite a bit of time and crowding out a lot of other legislation:
- An agreement has not been reached on ERCOT/power grid reform.
- Debate is still continuing on permit-less/constitutional gun carry legislation.
- Significant debate and recriminations are occurring on transgender legislation in the House.
- Finally, the very controversial legislation on election integrity continues – the House and Senate versions of election integrity reform are significantly different meaning that a conference committee may have to iron out the differences.
All of these issues are highly charged and creating a lot of bad blood between members and parties. We have not yet seen what the fallout will be on other legislation because of all the acrimony associated with these important issues. What we do know, and what past history tells us, is that there will be some intended and unintended consequences – many bills will die or be killed as retribution for positions and actions taken during the session.
It is going to be a wild end to this very unpredictable and strange legislative session.