My Five Cents
On Feb. 24, 1836, as Mexican General Santa Anna’s troops began their siege of the Alamo, Colonel William Barret Travis penned his famous “Victory or Death” letter addressed to ‘The People of Texas & All Americans in the World’. This letter is considered a Texas treasure and one of the most stirring battleground letters in our nation’s history, as Travis vowed to never surrender or retreat. It is currently displayed at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission as a part of their latest exhibit ‘Texans’ Struggle for Freedom and Equality’.
Here are five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol:
1. Passing of the ‘Double Nichols’
Senate Bill 5 and Senate Joint Resolution 5 were passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee this week. This bill authorizes the first $2.5 billion in vehicle sales tax revenue to be put into the state’s general fund. The next $2.5 billion collected would go to the State Highway Fund, to be used for the states highway infrastructure. Any revenue collected beyond $5 billion a year would be split evenly between the general fund and the State Highway Fund.
This proposal would ensure Texas has a predictable funding source for transportation, while still allowing general revenue to grow with our economy. If approved by the Legislature, this proposal would go to the voters in November 2016.
1. Proposed Tax Cuts
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senator Jane Nelson, Chair of Senate Finance Committee, held a press conference this week to announce three recently filed bills which would reduce the state’s property and business taxes by $4.6 billion. Senate Bill 1 will more than double the homestead exemption from $15,000 to approximately $33,500. This number will continue to increase as the price of the average home increases.
Senate Bill 7 would permanently reduce the rate of the business franchise tax by 15 percent, allowing businesses more opportunity to grow. The third bill, Senate Bill 8, would allow businesses with $4 million or less in annual revenues to be exempt from paying the franchise tax. This cut would provide relief to small and medium sized businesses across the state. I am a co-author on all of these bills and will work this session to ensure we are finding ways to provide tax relief for the people of Texas.
1. Texas Forestry Day
This week the Texas Forestry Association was recognized at the Capitol. The Texas Forestry Association is a nonprofit organization made up of landowners, businesses, and other professionals united by a common goal to advance forestry and enhance the state’s forest resources. Covering 12 million acres, the forest area of East Texas has created more than 130,000 jobs and has had a total economic impact of more than $30.3 billion dollars.
Representatives from all over East Texas were in Austin to advocate for the industry and the important service it provides to the state both economically and ecologically. Each year, the industry plants 100 million tree seedlings, about four trees per Texan.
1. Two Steps, One Sticker
Starting on March 1st, Texas drivers will have only one sticker for both their registration and inspection. Drivers will be required to submit their car for inspection no more than 90 days before they renew their car registration.
If your registration expires before your current inspection, you will still be allowed to register during the transition without an additional inspection. For example, if someone’s registration expires in May 2015 and their inspection tag expires in June 2015, they will not be required to get their car inspected until prior to renewing their registration in May 2016. If someone’s inspection sticker expires in May 2015 but their registration is up in June 2015, they will have to get an inspection before renewing their registration. For more information about these changes you can visit http://txdmv.gov/motorists/register-your-vehicle/two-steps-one-sticker.
1. Texas FFA Day
More than 450 members and advisors from 50 different chapters of FFA came to the Capitol this week. By participating in tours and workshops they had an opportunity to learn about the legislative process, as well as the history of the Texas State Capitol.
These young men and women represent Texas and remind us of how important agriculture is to our state. It is always an honor to meet with this and other organizations who are training tomorrow’s Texas leaders.
Senator Robert Nichols
For The Record