Five Days Left: Where We Stand
With five days remaining, here’s where we stand on major city-related bills:
- Revenue Caps: The revenue cap bill, S.B. 1, will be heard on the House floor Saturday, August 12. As it currently stands, the bill imposes a 6 percent revenue cap on cities with over $25 million in property tax revenue. That $25 million bracket is almost certain to change either this session if the bill advances or in future sessions to include more or all cities, so no city should feel safe that the bracket doesn’t currently apply to them. All cities should contact their House delegation now and urge them to vote no on S.B. 1 because the bill provides no real tax relief, harms public safety, and doesn’t address the true problem with property taxes – school finance.
- Annexation: The annexation bill, S.B. 6, is on the House calendar today, August 11. City officials should continue to explain to their representatives the importance of annexation to the state’s economy, as well as express the negative impact that annexation restrictions will have on our state’s military bases and BRAC strategy.
- Trees: The tree bill with momentum, H.B. 7, had been agreed-to by both cities and developers, but it received harmful amendments in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. The amendments bring the bill closer to the broad preemption provisions in S.B. 14, specifically that: (1) cities cannot regulate trees smaller than 24 inches in diameter; (2) cities cannot regulate trees in the ETJ; and (3) cities may charge no higher than a $400 mitigation fee.
- Expedited Permitting: The expedited permitting bill, S.B. 13, was heard on Wednesday of this week in the House State Affairs Committee. The bill would speed up deadlines for city approval of permits and deem many permits granted if deadlines aren’t met.
- Super Vesting: The extremely harmful super vesting bill, S.B. 12, has not yet passed the Senate. The House version, H.B. 188, is pending in a House committee.
- Spending Cap: The bill that caps total city spending at population growth plus inflation, S.B. 18, has not yet passed the Senate.
- Cell Phones: The bill that preempts city cell phone ordinances, S.B. 15, has passed the Senate but not yet been referred to a committee in the House.
- Bathrooms: The bathroom bill, S.B. 3, has passed the Senate but not yet been referred to a committee in the House.
Unlike a regular legislative session, where strict deadlines apply, a special session bill isn’t dead until the session finally ends. It’s important for city officials to continue to express their opposition to bad bills until the end of the final day of the session, Wednesday, August 16.