Last Week in the Legislature

5th-Year Accounting Scholarship Bill Approved by Both Houses

By Kenneth Besserman
Director of Government Affairs and Special Counsel

Update - May 17, 2023 
HB 2504, legislation expanding the 5th Year Accounting Scholarship, has passed both chambers and it is on its way to the Governor for his signature. TXCPA was successful in adding HB 2504 to HB 2217 and getting both bills through the legislature. This has been priority legislation for TXCPA as another tool to address the CPA pipeline. Many thanks to Angie Chen Button, Sen. Charles Perry, TXCPA members, and all those who have helped improve the CPA pipeline.

Abbott Signs 120 Hours to Test Bill

By Kenneth Besserman
Director of Government Affairs and Special Counsel

Update - May 13, 2023 
SB 159 - allowing students to begin testing at 120 hours – was signed by Governor Abbot on May 13! The bill takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023. Many thanks to bill sponsors Rep. Angie Chen Button and Sen. Charles Perry.

The Legislative Games Continue

May 12, 2023 | Issue 14

AUSTIN - With only 16 days left in the 88th legislative session, major legislation is at a standstill. The state’s two-year budget has not been hammered out; there is no agreement on property tax reform – the chambers remain far apart and the vitriol is increasing; there is no agreement on educational savings accounts and private school vouchers; major power grid and ERCOT reforms have not made it to Governor Greg Abbott's desk yet; and legislative stalling tactics are in high gear.

All this is to be expected; however, with a $40+ billion budget surplus, the legislature’s inaction on many high-profile issues is concerning.

The Good News

TXCPA’s high priority legislation that addresses some of the CPA pipeline issues continues to make good progress. SB 159 - allowing students to begin testing at 120 hours – is sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. We are within a couple of days of a deadline that requires the Governor to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

TXCPA has been working diligently the last several weeks to get that bill to the finish line and collaborating with the Governor’s legislative staff to answer questions about the bill and make sure that its purpose and intent is well understood. We hope that this time next week, we will have a signed bill.


If you have the opportunity, please contact Senate Business & Commerce Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner’s office and ask them to set the bill (HB2504) for a hearing. Let them know how important the legislation is to TXCPA and the CPA pipeline.

HB 2504 – expansion of the fifth-year accounting scholarship – is still awaiting a hearing in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee. Prospects look promising for a hearing soon and passage by the full Senate is probable, as the legislation has wide support by Representatives and Senators. The legislation will expand the scholarship fund so that accounting students who have completed at least 15 hours of upper-level accounting coursework can be eligible for the scholarship.

The intent of the legislation is to make scholarship funds more widely available to help accounting students afford the increased hours needed to become a licensed CPA and to encourage accounting students to remain in the accounting pipeline all the way to licensure. Hundreds of additional students each year could benefit from this legislation.

Consensus is Elusive

As for the major state issues this session – the state budget, power grid reform, school choice, property tax reform and other issues – are either in a conference committee or still in one chamber or the other awaiting hearings or final passage. All these issues are engendering a lot of heated debate, pointed remarks and legislative retribution. Hearings on other unrelated bills are not happening as retribution for some of the key issues not moving or not passing. As these major bills begin to move along the legislative process, it will cause the legislative floodgates to open once again as the final round of committee hearings occur and the last significant number of bills make their way to final passage.

The one major issue that has many insiders worrying about a special session is property tax reform. The chambers remain far apart on the form of property tax reform – appraisal caps vs. homestead exemption expansion. The rhetoric emanating from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan is becoming more heated by the day. The Lt. Governor refused to set a hearing on the House version of property tax reform and the Speaker is attempting to put some public pressure on the Senate by talking about the benefits of the House plan on homeowners and businesses. What the final product will be is still uncertain, but do not be surprised to be watching this debate once again in June or July in a special session.

Don’t Bet on It

One interesting issue that has been talked about for years is casino gaming and sports betting. The issue has gained more traction this year than in any other legislative session. Both proposals have passed second reading in the House and are set for third reading on Thursday, May 11. Because both proposals require a constitutional amendment – and need 100 votes to pass – ultimate passage is not certain in the House. Both proposals received over 90 votes on second reading but need about 10 more votes for final passage.

While the Lt. Governor has recently said that gambling does not have the votes in the Senate, the issue is continuing to progress more than in the past. We will see very soon if Texas voters get a chance to vote on the matter in a constitutional amendment election.

There will be much to report next week.

Only 16 days left in the session.





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