Texas 86th Legislature: Wins, losses and major takeaways from the session

SAN ANTONIO – The “Kumbaya” session is how some are describing the 86th Texas legislative session.

The session, which wrapped up Monday, was drama-free, and lawmakers accomplished big goals.  

Some of the areas of focuses for state leaders were education reform and property tax reform.

Some of the main bills that passed this session include House Bill 3, regarding school finance reform, and Senate Bill 2, which focuses on property tax reform.

HB 3 is a complete overhaul of Texas public school finance and would increase funding for schools and teachers.

SB 2 simplifies the appraisal and appeal process for property taxpayers. It also requires cities and counties to call a vote before raising the property tax rate more than 3.5%.

“In the terms that they spelled out this session to accomplish, these things -- they got exactly what they set out to do,” said Ross Ramsey executive editor of the Texas Tribune.

Ramsey said it wasn't all wins for legislators.

“A lot of things that they talked about didn't get through,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said some of those failures included the proposed increase of sales taxes to curb property taxes, stricter abortion laws such as those passed in Georgia and Alabama and an election bill that would have required voting machines to have paper trails.

This session also passed a state budget of $250 billion. Ramsey said a lot of the spending will go toward Hurricane Harvey repair and $11.6 billion goes to spending on schools and property taxes.

He said overall, this session was relatively peaceful, calling it the “’Kumbaya’ session.”

“Last session, we had the ‘bathroom bill,’ and tempers rose over that,” Ramsey said. “They almost had a fistfight on the floor of the House over the ‘sanctuary cities bill’ two years ago. By comparison, this session was a no-drama session.”

Gov. Greg Abbott has until June 16 to decide whether to sign or veto the bills that have passed.

If Abbott doesn't sign or veto a bill, tit goes into effect automatically. New laws take effect Sept. 1.

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