[via The Examiner]
HOUSTON--With the 84th Legislative Session recently adjourning Sine Die, State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) is pleased to announce some of the highlights that will benefit all Texas taxpayers and families.
"Each legislative session we are presented with a new set of challenges facing our great state, and the legislature works diligently to address them in the most prudent manner," Rep. Bohac said. "I am proud that we were able to pass a balanced budget that addressed our core priorities, including increased funding for education, infrastructure and border security, while also providing Texas businesses and homeowners with nearly $4 billion in tax relief."
"The biennial budget is largely consumed by two "big ticket" items every session--education and health and human services," said Rep. Bohac. "This budget is no different, with nearly 75% of funding going to these two areas of government. In addition, the legislature added significant funding for non-tolled transportation projects to keep Texas moving, and it addressed the shortfall in retired teacher benefits. This is a fiscally conservative budget that will truly benefit all Texans."
The State Budget
This session, we maintained fiscal discipline by passing a two-year state budget that keeps growth beneath 2 percent per year. We prioritized the state's overall spending and provided additional funding for education, border security, transportation, and child protective services. The budget grew less than the rate of population and inflation, was below the constitutional spending cap and left more than $11 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund.
With an eye on job creation and economic growth, the Texas Legislature delivered significant tax relief for the taxpayers of Texas. The House and Senate worked together and approved nearly $4 billion in tax relief: a 25 percent reduction in the business margins tax, as well as a $10,000 increase in the homestead exemption, providing relief for homeowners.
HB 1 provides a historic $840 million in All Funds for border security. This will allow for the hiring of 250 new Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers and allow a 50-hour work week. HB 11 allocates $310 million over the 2016-17 biennium bolstering security along the Texas-Mexico border. Among its provisions, it creates a training facility for law enforcement in the Rio Grande Valley and the establishment of southbound checkpoints on international bridges. The bill also allows Governor Abbott to keep members of the Texas National Guard along the border until replaced by DPS officers.
The Legislature focused on funding transportation this session without raising taxes, fees or tolls. HB 1 ends diversions of the gas tax intended for the State Highway Fund, increasing transportation funding by $1.3 billion over two years. Additionally, SJR 5 will dedicate the first $2.5 billion of sales tax revenues above $28 billion to the State Highway Fund each year beginning in 2018. Finally, beginning in 2020, SJR 5 would dedicate 35 percent of motor vehicle sales tax revenue in excess of $5 billion to the State Highway Fund (SJR 5 will be voted on by Texas voters on November 3, 2015).
Not only did the legislature fully fund enrollment growth, the legislature also implemented some reform measures targeted at helping low-performing schools and economically disadvantaged students.
HB 1842 would adopt new procedures for intervening in and sanctioning certain low-performing schools, including requirements for a strategic campus turnaround plan. HB 2804 creates a new A-F rating system for all public school campuses so that parents and students can more clearly understand their school’s performance. Further the bill reforms the school accountability system to decrease the emphasis on state-mandated standardized tests. HB 4 provides additional funding to school districts that opt to implement a high quality, accountable prekindergarten (pre-k) program.
Second Amendment Rights
In an effort to ensure and protect Second Amendment rights, the legislature passed HB 910 which allows for the licensed open carry of handguns by concealed handgun license (CHL) holders. Texas now joins 34 other states that allow open carry.
HB 3994 changes the judicial bypass procedure for minors seeking abortions without the consent of a parent or guardian. These reforms will protect and strengthen parents' rights while also increasing oversight of the bypass process.
Religious Freedom/Pastor Protection
SB 2065 protects a person's fundamental First Amendment right to freedom of religion by protecting pastors from lawsuits or criminal prosecution if they refuse to perform marriages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Local Quality of Life
In an effort to protect local quality of life of the residents and neighborhoods in District 138, Rep. Bohac passed HB 745 which gives a property owners' association an additional safety tool by allowing them to install and maintain--at their expense--solar powered LED stop signs. Rep. Bohac added to work he had done in a previous session by way of HB 1737, which gave authority to property owners’ associations to install speed feedback signs that enhance neighborhood safety.
HB 158 will end diversions of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax originally dedicated to Texas Parks and Wildlife. In this bill, $261 million from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax will be appropriated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department over the next two years. The end of this diversion will mean an increase for the department to the tune of $89.6 million. This increase in funding will improve the beauty and accessibility of our Texas Parks.
"I am proud of what we accomplished this session,” said Bohac. “We passed a number of good measures--from tax relief to education reform to roadway funding--that will position Texas to continue to be the beacon for the rest of the country for years to come."
This session more than 6,300 bills and joint resolutions were filed in both the House and the Senate. More than 1,300 bills and joint resolutions were adopted by both chambers and sent to the Governor.
On November 4, 2014, Representative Dwayne Bohac was re-elected to represent House District 138. He is a lifelong district resident.
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