Austin — On Monday, the 85th Legislative Session came to a close. We all rest a bit easier as a result of the end of the Legislative Session, except for the fact that there was a complete failure to pass any meaningful ad valorem property taxation reform. Of course the real tax reform will only occur if local governments reducing spending. If a conservative Republican community such as Montgomery County, Texas, cannot reduce government spending, then, perhaps, we’re doomed to an eventual fiscal collapse.
One success was that the members of the Texas Senate unanimously elected Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) as President Pro Tempore. “Working together, I believe this Legislature has passed integral legislation to benefit the entire State of Texas,” said Senator Robert Nichols. “Serving the people of Senate District 3 has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I look forward to continuing to work for them.”
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Nichols played an important role in determining the state’s $217 billion budget for the next biennium. There was little effort to control government spending but rather substantial increases in spending.
Nichols served for the third session as Chairman for the Senate Transportation Committee. “I want to thank Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for his leadership and for entrusting me with this Chairmanship,” said Nichols. “We passed important legislation to allow Texas to maintain its competitive edge when it comes to exporting products and directed $5 billion in sales tax revenue to address transportation issues across the state.”
On Sine Die, Senator Nichols was named President Pro Tempore. If the Governor and Lt. Governor are out of the State at the same time, Nichols will be the acting Governor in their absence. This is based on seniority and made by a vote of the Senate members. “I am honored to be named President Pro Tempore. I look forward to serving in this position throughout the interim, and am grateful for the trust of my colleagues in the Senate,” said Nichols.
85th Legislature highlights, according to Senator Nichols, include:
- Senate Bill 16 which lowered the License to Carry Fee application and renewal fees in Texas. Making it one of the lowest fees in the Nation.
- Senate Bill 24 which provider protections for Pastors by prohibiting the subpoena of their sermons by state officials
- Senate Bill 12 to allocate $25 million for protective vests for law enforcement
- HB 62 – bans texting while driving across the state
- Senate Bill 7 which creates a criminal offense and cracks down on improper teacher-student relationships
- Senate Bill 4 which bans ‘Sanctuary Cities’ in the State
- Increased the funding for Child Protective Services by over $500 million.
In the future, one must question whether legislative highlights will ever include a successful effort to reduce the state spending budget.