Taxpayer Protection Act – House Bill 3785 by Representative Perry
On April 17, 2013, I laid out HB 3785 in the Select Committee on Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be in place soon and will penalize citizens for failure to pay taxes. This bill protects taxpayers by providing the ability to claim non-liability for unlawful federal taxes and establishes a Class B misdemeanor offense for the attempted execution of a federal tax lien or levy on a taxpayer. The Secretary of State serves as the official responsible for handling these claims and administering the process of determining whether or not a federal tax lien or levy can be carried out.
You can track bills of interest online at www.capitol.state.tx.us. There are two methods for creating a personal list of bills for tracking purposes. The bill list feature is accessible from the My TLO page. A bill alert system allows bill tracking with the added capability of receiving notification when actions change.
Get Involved in the Process
One of the major topics of discussion this session has been how to fund transportation projects throughout the state, one of the proposed solutions is raising the fees on
vehicle registrations and titles.
How do you feel about raising fees to fund statewide transportation projects?
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Legislation in Committee Next Week
The following bills will be heard in committee next week. To see a full schedule of upcoming meetings or to learn how to testify at a hearing please visit: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Committees/MeetingsHouse.aspx.
★ House Bill 1673 – Hearing in the Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence on Monday, April 22, 2013. In the 1970s, Texas enacted a system of no-fault divorce which was followed by significant increases in the both the rate and number of divorces. To decrease the high rate of divorce and to encourage the development of strong marriages and healthy families, some states have created the option of entering into a covenant marriage. Covenant marriages provide greater protection for couples facing the inevitable challenges of married life. To enter a covenant marriage a couple must participate in pre-marital counseling to prepare for the commitment of marriage. Covenant marriage also requires couples to seek reconciliatory counseling prior to a divorce, however, if family violence is reported the Judge may expedite the filing.
★ House Bill 97 & House Joint Resolution 111 – Hearing in the Committee on Ways and Means on Monday, April 22, 2013. Across the state homes are donated by charitable organizations looking to help out returning soldiers who have sustained injuries serving our country. An unintended consequence are veterans are having donated homes foreclosed on because of the inability to pay property taxes. This bill creates a property tax exemption for veterans living in a home donated by a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Under current law, only veterans with a disability rating of 100% receive a property tax exemption. This bill is aimed at reducing the tax burden on veterans by granting them a property tax exemption tied to their disability rating.
Guest Column in the Texas Tribune: Texas Doesn’t Need Rainy Day Money Yet
Texans are asking the wrong question when it comes to financing the state water plan. It’s not “if,” but “when and by what means?” The passage of House Bill 4 solidified the Legislature’s promise to make the implementation of water infrastructure a priority this session. This legislation does just that by establishing the framework to implement and administer House Bill 11’s one-time $2 billion appropriation for funding specific water projects throughout the state.
Now, to be clear, this is not a debate on having a water plan. It’s a discussion on the best way to fund our water needs while protecting the state’s financial stability.
The need for the actual funding is estimated to be more than a year away since so many pieces of HB 4 have to be put in place before a dime can be spent. So what does all this mean? The House budget is within $680 million of the constitutional spending cap, with several initiatives requiring budget dollars waiting to come to fruition. The estimated $2 billion to be transferred from the Economic Stabilization Fund, better known as Rainy Day Fund, would force a vote on busting that spending cap, which requires simple majority vote in the House. Since the need for actual funding is more than a year away, this does not make sense.
The Legislature should follow the constitutional rules that keep state government living within its means. Overriding or intentionally disregarding the spending cap, which enforces responsible fiscal stewardship of taxpayer dollars, would set a dangerous precedent. It would also send a message that the rules only apply when they are convenient.
The prudent course would be to defer the actual funding of the water plan until all governance and oversight processes of HB 4 have been developed, ensuring that the dollars to be spent will be properly accounted for. The transfer of money from the RDF for the sake of political posturing — “doing something for the sake of doing something” — has to be set aside in the name of common sense. Caution needs to be exercised before the actual dollars are released.
If we wait until 2015 to fund the water plan, the next Legislature can appropriate the necessary $2 billion, either from the RDF or some other funding option that may become available. For example, there might be general revenue in excess of the budget revenue estimate used to write the 2014-15 budget. Setting political posturing aside and using common sense in this situation could yield options that may become available with time, and allows the Legislature to keep the rules in place that keep Texas among the top economic performing states in the union.
I think Texans would agree — let the need drive the timing.
I had the opportunity to write an Op-Ed for the Texas Tribune this week on using the Economic Stabilization Fund (the Rainy Day Fund) for funding the state water plan. Article here: http://www.texastribune.org/2013/04/16/guest-column-texas-doesnt-need- rainy-day-money-yet/.
Choose Life Grant Program
The Office of the Attorney General is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for the Choose Life Grant Program. Funded by the sale of Choose Life specialty license plates, the Choose Life Grant Program was established by the Texas Legislature to raise funds for the promotion of adoption in the State of Texas.
To find out more about the Choose Life Grant Program, click on the image below:
To access the Request for Applications and the Application Kit, please visit the Texas Attorney General’s website.
Choose Life Grant Program Purpose Areas
Grant contracts awarded under this Choose Life Grant Program Application Kit may be used to:
- provide for the material needs of pregnant women who are considering placing their children for adoption, including theprovision of clothing, housing, prenatal care, food, utilities, and transportation;
- provide for the needs of infants who are awaiting placement with adoptive parents;
- provide training and advertising relating to adoption;
- provide pre-adoption counseling; and
- provide post-adoption counseling.Timeline:
- April 19, 2013 – Request for Applications (RFA) and Application Kit posted and available for the Choose Life GrantProgram.
- May 17, 2013 – Applications due at 5:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT). Specific submission instructions are in theApplication Kit.
- July 2013 – OAG will notify Applicants of its decision regarding grant awards.If you have any questions about the grant application process, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 936-1278.
You are encouraged to share this grant application notice and the Texas Attorney General’s website with other organizations that may be interested in applying for the Choose Life Grant Program funding.