When I was sworn in as Lt. Governor at the beginning of the Legislative Session in January, I noted that “we have a moment in time, right now, to set the stage for an even greater Texas.” That statement was not just a poetic flourish in my inaugural speech. It is absolutely clear to me that while Texas is faced with some great challenges at this time – both politically and in terms of public policy – we also have a unique opportunity to solve some longstanding problems, if we remain steadfast in our conservative principles.
For me, the greatest challenge we face in our state continues to be skyrocketing property taxes. The Texas economy simply cannot continue to flourish if every day Texans and Texas businesses are burdened by ever escalating property taxes.
In the last legislative session, I refused to agree to a so-called property tax bill that didn’t do anything and would have made no difference to anyone’s tax bill going forward. I have made it clear that I have made that same commitment this session. I will not settle for any property tax reform legislation that does not provide property tax relief for Texans. Senate Bill 2, by Senator Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, requires a vote of the people if local entities increase local revenue by more than 2.5%. Senator Bettencourt has also filed Senate Bill 5, which will increase the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $35,000 – another path to property tax relief.
I have been working to rein in property taxes since before I was in public office. It is not easy to do. If it were, we conservatives would have already done it. However, I am very optimistic about the conversations that are going on now among lawmakers in Austin. There is no question that the majority understand that we must make substantial property tax reforms before we go back home – whether that is at the end of May, or as many special sessions as it takes.
Left-wing lunacy…even in Texas
We also face some grave political challenges as Democrats — even in Texas — drift toward left-wing lunacy and socialism. Just look at the two Texans who are running for President. Both of them support policies that are a direct assault on life, liberty and our second amendment rights. In addition, they both support policies designed to decimate the oil and gas industry. It is absolutely astonishing what they do not understand about Texas’ role in the global economy. And it’s not just national candidates. In the Texas Legislature today, there are Democrat bills to reverse our Sanctuary Cities and Voter ID laws, as well as to restrict our religious liberty and increase access to abortion.
Holding off these left-wing forces is not as easy as it used to be. I encourage you to speak out in your communities and on social media and send a loud and clear message that Texas remains firmly committed to the conservative principles and policies that have made our state a model for the nation and the world. We must fight for these principles like the world depends on it …because it does. The world needs a strong America and America needs a strong Texas.
Protecting Free Speech on Campus
As I promised in last week’s email, Senate Bill 18 — the free speech on campus bill — passed the Texas Senate this past Wednesday. The vote was unanimous. Protecting free speech on college campuses is one of my top 30 priority bills this session. Authored by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, this legislation will ensure that students’ constitutional right to speak their minds – even if they are conservative – will not be stifled on a college campus in Texas.
President Donald Trump also signed an Executive Order protecting free speech on college campuses last week, and he invited Senators Joan Huffman and Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to join him in the East Room of the White House for the signing. The President honored our two Texas senators and others from around the country who are working to protect our First Amendment freedoms.
Hurricane Harvey Disaster Response Legislation
About a year and a half ago, Hurricane Harvey dumped over 50 inches of rain on Texas, damaging or destroying 135,000 homes and affecting over 13 million people. As I said at the time — Hurricane Harvey was “the worst of times” for us in Texas, but it was also “the best of times,” because we showed the nation and the world what it means to be Texas Strong.
The Texas Senate began working immediately following Hurricane Harvey to address the aftermath of the storm; I am proud to announce that Senate Bills 6, 7 and 8 — the Hurricane Harvey and Disaster Response Legislation — unanimously passed the Texas Senate last week. These bills lay out the path to our final recovery from the most devastating storm in our state’s history and will impact generations of Texans for years to come.
- Senate Bill 6 — Disaster Response Act, authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, requires local governments to adopt disaster relief plans, helping to reduce response delays and confusion.
- Senate Bill 7 — Flood Disaster Plan – Matching Fund, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, creates a flood mitigation fund and provides a state match to local governments for restoration from Hurricane Harvey.
- Senate Bill 8 — Statewide Flood Plan, authored by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, creates a statewide flood plan to ensure that Texas is prepared to meet the threat of flooding in any region of the state.
Senate Bills 6, 7 and 8 reflect the hard work of these three senators and others in the Texas Senate over the past 18 months on this critical issue.
I am very proud to serve as your Lieutenant Governor and I appreciate your continued support. May God bless you, your family, and the greatest state of all—Texas.
Lieutenant Governor of Texas