The Back MicThe Back Mic: Texas Speaker Calls for Property Tax Compression, GOP Official Leery on Heartbeat Bill, State Rep. to Forgo Re-Election

This week — Dade Phelan rallies behind a property tax compression bill, a GOP official criticizes the Heartbeat Act, and a lawmaker announces he will forgo re-election.
September 10, 2021

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Phelan Calls for Addition of Property Tax Compression to the Special Session

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) called on Governor Greg Abbott to add a property tax relief item to the third special session agenda.

“[The legislature] moved the needle on property taxes in 2021 but we have unfinished House business for 87(3),” Phelan said. “ Let’s provide REAL tax relief for [Texas] homeowners. [Texas] taxpayers already have a strong bill [the legislature] can work from.”

The legislature may only consider bills related to items included on the governor’s special session proclamation and the property tax item was left off the upcoming session’s agenda.

It was, however, included on the previous agenda but did not make it through Phelan’s chamber before the legislature adjourned sine die three days before the session was set to expire.

The Texan Tumbler

The Senate passed the bill, authored by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), on September 1 — the day before adjournment. Senate Bill 91 would provide between $2 billion and $5 billion in property tax compression, the process of lowering local school district Maintenance & Operations tax rates by increasing the state’s share of school funding.

It would be similar to what the legislature did in the 2019 session and is estimated to reduce the tax bill of a $300,000-valued home by $100.

Bettencourt told The Texan of Phelan’s appeal, “Glad to hear of the Speaker’s interest, as SB 91 passed out of the Senate it could provide 6.6 pennies of property tax rate compression on M&O school taxes in 2022!”

Texas Heartbeat Bill is Not Enough, Says Texas Agriculture Commissioner

The Texas Heartbeat Act became law this month and it spurred a national fight over the bill’s provisions, both real and imaginary.

At the bill signing press conference for the election reform legislation, Governor Greg Abbott was asked by a reporter about the Heartbeat Bill, specifically, “Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?”

In response, Abbott said, “It doesn’t require that at all, obviously, because it provides at least six weeks for a person to get an abortion.”

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller waded into the debate Thursday, first saying in an email, “The good news is that the Texas Heartbeat Act has become law and, already, lives are being saved!”

He further warned, however, that the Texas Heartbeat Act neither “end[s] the slaughter of the innocent” nor is likely to “withstand judicial scrutiny.”

“The Texas case will hinge,” Miller added, “on questions of jurisdiction, standing, and whether the state can outsource enforcement of laws to citizens.”

“We must resolve not to let off the gas petal [sic] until the killing of preborn humans is treated no differently by the law, the Constitution, and the culture than the killing of any other human being.”

Miller has not withheld his disagreement with Abbott over the years and was even mulling a primary challenge to the governor before deciding to seek re-election.

Another State Representative Declines Re-Election

State Rep. Ben Leman (R-Anderson) announced he will forgo re-election in 2022. The three-term legislator said he would serve out the rest of his current term before leaving his seat open in next year’s election.

“After much consideration, prayer, and thoughtful discussion with my family, I have made the decision not to seek a fourth term as State Representative,” he said in a letter.

He added, “As we have all learned, life comes at us in seasons. It is clear the current season of my public service is winding down for the near future.”

“Responsibilities and duties outside of public office will require much more of my time moving forward.”

Leman first won election to House District 13 in 2018 and had previously served as Grimes County judge.

Currently, only one other candidate has filed for HD 13 in the 2022 election: Democrat Joshua Tutt.

Leman is the fifth incumbent state representative to forgo their re-election in 2022, joining John Turner (D-Dallas) who is retiring at the end of his term and James White (R-Hillister), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), and Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) who are each running for other positions.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.