Last Week in the Legislature
The Final Month
By Kenneth Besserman
Director of Government Affairs and Special Counsel
April 27, 2023 | Issue 12
AUSTIN - As the Texas Legislature moves into the last month of the 88th legislative session, tensions and temperatures are beginning to rise; the Speaker and Lt. Governor are taking hard negotiating positions on property tax relief and the state budget; Representatives and Senators are starting to accuse one another of holding up their legislation; and there is serious talk about special sessions.
For the uninitiated, this is typical and expected. It is political and legislative posturing at its finest. If no legislative games were being played at this point of the session, then it truly would be a strange session.
The Biggest Issue
This week, both the House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made strong statements about their respective chamber’s property tax proposal. The battle comes down to lowering the cap of property tax appraisal increases versus an increase of the homestead exemption to $70,000. House and Senate budget writers are debating the amount of property tax savings in each proposal and the long-term effects of the proposals.
Currently, the Senate is taking an extremely hard negotiating position by not scheduling a hearing on the House property tax proposal. The House has been open to negotiating on the two proposals to see what can be achieved. Time is running short. This item is the biggest issue of the session, and the top issue for almost all legislators and the Big Three state leaders. Watch for some movement in the next few weeks; otherwise, it might be a long summer of special sessions.
This week, again, TXCPA made more progress on its legislative priorities. HB 2504 – expanding the fifth-year accounting scholarship – passed the House overwhelmingly and it is now in the Senate. TXCPA is working closely with Senator Charles Perry, the Senate sponsor of the bill, and the Senate Business & Commerce Committee to schedule a hearing on the bill.
As we make our way around the Capitol talking to legislators and staff, we are getting some great comments on our pipeline legislation. CPAs and other licensed professions and occupations are facing similar pipeline and worker shortage obstacles. There are a number of bills this session seeking to address employee shortages across a spectrum of industries and the fact that TXCPA’s legislative priorities have made significant progress this session really stands out.
SB 159 – allowing students to take the CPA Exam at 120 hours – has passed the Senate and the House and now has one final step before it goes to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. A minor change was made to the bill in the House, so the Senate needs to concur in the change before it goes to the Governor. That concurrence can happen at any time. We are proud to have one of our legislative priorities almost through the full legislative process.
TXCPA is working closely with the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy to begin assessing what State Board rules need to be revised once the TXCPA legislative priorities pass and take effect. As the legislation passes, there will be a lot more information to share.