New year, new rules

New year, new rules

2023-01-04T13:44:56-05:00January 4th, 2023|Dallas-Fort Worth, Economy, Government|


Writer: Jerrica DuBois

2 min read January 2023 — A new year is typically associated with change, with Jan. 1 marking a reset of sorts. For Texas, the beginning of 2023 will see many of the laws passed in the last legislative session come to fruition. Invest: explores some of the legislative changes Texans can expect throughout the new year. 

One such piece of legislation that took effect on Jan. 1 was Senate Bill 12. According to a bill analysisopens PDF file by the Senate Research Center, Senate Bill 12 limits the amount of property taxes a school district can levy on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person. The bill, written by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, ensures that districts are not burdened by a decrease in revenue. The law makes districts eligible for additional state aid. 

Senate Bill 12 is a response to what some consider a misstep in the school funding overhaul that was passed in 2019. That law provided additional state money to school districts, enabling them to lower local property tax rates. However, elderly and disabled homeowners were not eligible for the reduction.

“HB 3 provided school M&O tax rate compression for property taxpayers, where the state provides additional dollars to school districts in return for lower local school tax rates,” said Rep. Hugh Shine in a statement. “Texans over 65 or those who are disabled did not receive this reduction. SB 12/ SJR 2 would put to the voters again the option to extend the tax rate compression from HB 3 to those over 65 or disabled, so they too would see their school M&O tax rate reduced.”

Later this year HB 1525, which amends the Education Code and Government Code to help improve the public school finance system and allow for certain temporary funding allocations, will come into effect. This act initially took effect Sept. 1, 2021, except Section 14, which takes effect Sept. 1, 2023. Section 14 revises rules regarding state funding for certain student tests. The bill requires additional Public Education Information Management System reporting for certain students who fail to attend school or are enrolled in certain education programs after dropping out of school. The bill also sets out requirements relating to protecting covered student information by a national assessment provider and by an applicable operator of a website, online service or app used for school purposes.

Also effective Sept. 1, 2023, SB 1615 amends the Education Code to provide for transitional FSP funding for students in an applicable adult education program, including by removing a certain age distinction. The bill establishes program‑specific methods for calculating relevant FSP funding components, including average daily attendance; the compensatory education allotment; the college, career, or military readiness outcomes bonus; and an additional allotment based on weighted student outcomes.

Lawmakers also approved House Bill 3774, which makes several changes to the judicial branch in efforts to better govern themselves. The bill, written by Rep. Jeff Leach, revises the jurisdiction of certain statutory county courts, gives magistrates in certain counties jurisdiction in criminal cases, revises the duties of certain district and county attorneys and provides public access to the state court document database with authorization from the Texas Supreme Court. It will also create 10 district courts, five statutory county courts, one statutory probate court and one criminal magistrate court.

House Bill 3774 also creates a code of professional responsibility to regulate entities overseen by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, revises the commission’s investigatory power and permits the commission to use state funds to train forensic analysts.

Continuing the legislature’s ongoing statutory revision program, HB 3530 codifies a number of session law special districts into the Special District Local Laws Code. This includes one levee improvement district, one municipal utility district, two river authorities, and one water control and improvement district.

Another bill now in effect stops local building codes from imposing restrictions that stop builders from using a substitute refrigerant authorized by the federal government’s Clean Air Act. Written by Sen. Nathan Johnson and Bettencourt, Senate Bill 1210 is in line with a worldwide movement to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, chemical compounds of hydrogen, carbon and fluorine that erode the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.

“Overall, the transition is expected to create 33,000 new manufacturing jobs and sustain more than 138,000 existing manufacturing jobs nationwide,” according to the statement of intentopens PDF file for the bill. “A large proportion of these jobs will be in Texas, already a major manufacturing hub for these products.”