News & Press: Member Update

85th Legislature Special Session Adjourns

Monday, August 21, 2017  
Posted by: Michael Hancock
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August 18, 2017




The First Called Session of the 85th Legislature adjourned on Tuesday with gridlock and no action on several major bills related to local government spending that could have negatively affected the infrastructure market in Texas. The major issue in contention was limits on the property tax rollback rates of cities and counties. Under current law, if these entities raise property tax levies by more than 8 percent annually, citizens can petition for a rollback election - a provision that is very difficult to use. Lt. Governor Patrick and Senate leaders wanted an automatic election on increases over 4 percent, while House leaders offered an automatic election on increases over 6 percent for the largest jurisdictions. The bodies were unable to bridge this gap and nothing passed.


Another significant bill that would have limited growth in local government spending to the statewide rate of increase in population and inflation -without distinguishing between fast growth and slow growth areas - never even got out of the Senate.


Other items on the Governor's call that did not pass included new limits on state spending, school choice for children with disabilities, speeding local government permitting, broadening the ban on taxpayer funding of abortions, and restrictions on transgender use of bathrooms.


Legislation that did pass included sunset legislation for various medical agencies (the issue that precipitated the session), restrictions on local tree protection ordinances, a requirement that areas being annexed by cities have a right to vote on the annexation, restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion, efforts to combat mail-in ballot fraud, limited school finance reform, and assistance to retired teachers.


It is virtually certain that local government spending and property taxes - and who is to blame for the Legislature's failure to limit these - will play a dominant role in a number of Republican primary races across the state next March.




Calendar of Events

  • August 29: ACEC Texas/TxDOT Training on Negotiating Contracts, Houston (Note: Another session on this topic will be scheduled for Austin at a later date)
  • October 12: ACEC Texas Board Meeting
  • October 15-18: ACEC National Fall Meeting, Orlando
  • October 25-26: ACEC Texas Morrissey Goodale Texas AE Industry Update Conference, Austin

In The News

Go to for current articles on construction, engineering, public works, transportation, politics and more including:

  • Texas Water Development Board green lights a slate of projects
  • City of Houston supports development of high-speed rail
  • El Paso County, water districts discuss stormwater fee for flooding
  • Leander trustees weigh $454 million bond issue
  • Railroad commissioner visits Corpus Christi port, advocates deepening and widening
  • Mineral Wells council OKs November bond election
  • Perryman: Six reasons not to be concerned that Texas unemployment is higher than US
  • Wylie trustees discuss bond election
  • Researchers to study chemical contamination of US waters
  • Highland Village council calls bond election for streets and parks
  • and more . . .

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ACEC San Antonio Chapter Meeting-07/18/18

ACEC Houston Chapter Lunch Meeting July 20, 2018: Devon Tiner, P.E., PMP