NEW CANEY, TX – On Thursday night, August 1, 2019, State Senator Brandon Creighton provided a legislative update at the R.B. Tullis Library in New Caney, Texas.
“The legislative session in Austin is very difficult, it’s very rigorous schedule and time frame, and its very tough to pass a bill,” said Senator Creighton. “But I think this time around, we have some good things to talk about.”
Creighton highlighted the work this legislative session completed while acknowledging more work needs to be done in respect to education and property tax relief.
Of the 10 bills which Creighton considered his “priority legislation,” 8 made it to the Governor’s desk and were signed into law, including SB7, a Harvey Relief bill which allowed the placement of $1.6 billion in the Texas Infrastructure Resilience Fund (TIRF) for the assistance in matching funds at the local level for federal monetary assistance.
“I think we passed the most comprehensive storm recovery series of bills that has been offered or passed in the country,” said Senator Creighton. “My opinion is that other states will model what we’ve done at the state level and copy our framework.”
SB 7 was part of a trio of bills which worked as a package to help overall disaster relief, not just from hurricanes, but several flash flooding events as well. SB 6 and SB 8 also called for the creation of local guides to manage the emergency response to a disaster, including the first statewide flood mitigation plan. However, despite the severity of Hurricane Harvey, Creighton explained it became increasingly difficult in the legislature to approve the use of the Texas Rainy Day Fund for disaster relief as the inclimate weather passed and many lawmakers focused on issues in other parts of the state.
Creighton stated many Senators favored shifting the money allocated to disaster relief towards the property tax reform and relief bills, which were also priority legislation for Creighton. Senate Bill 2, a property tax relief bill, created a cap of 3.5% on raising property taxes before a taxing entity would have to hold an election to allow the increase.
Senator Creighton stated, “When we came into session, we had a goal of at least accomplishing reform, and if we could provide relief, well, immediate relief, then we wanted to do that as well. We are able to accomplish both.”
Directly linked to the efforts of property tax reform and relief is the issue of public education finance. “Just the new kids in public schools in the State of Texas that we did not have two years ago totaled 60,000,” explained Creighton.
Creighton pushed HB3 through the Senate as another priority legislation which was passed during the session. This bill allocated $11.6 billion towards school finance, with $6.5 million towards raising teacher salaries and curriculum changes, and the remaining $5.1 towards lowering school taxes.
Other legislation passed by Creighton included the J.D. Lambright Ethics Reform Bill, which passed through the House, Senate, and was signed by the Governor after the unfortunate passing of Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright in early 2019. The religious freedom “Chick-fil-a” Bill, and the allocation of $800 million towards border security were also priorities for Creighton and he was glad to see both passed.
Two of Creighton’s legislative priorities which did not pass the house called for the protection of Texas historic monuments and an end to taxpayer-funded lobbying. Creighton intends to keep both issues at the forefront of people’s minds and seek support for them during the next legislative session.
At the end of his legislative update, Creighton took questions and met with citizens to discuss the issues they wished to see addressed in the next session.