Texas Senate Power Rankings

By: Mike Hailey

The biennial Capitol Inside analysis of clout at the statehouse this year is a tale of two chambers with Republican leaders who are diametric opposites and a classic study in the spoils of victory and the wages of defeat in the game of thrones inside the Austin beltway.

But the lawmaker who’s made the longest leap of all power ladder is State Rep. Dustin Burrows- a Lubbock Republican who’d been one of Bonnen’s most instrumental original supporters as the party caucus chief in the House where he’s the point person on property taxes in his debut session as the Ways & Means Committee chairman. Burrows committee leadership post came complete with seats on the Legislative Budget Board and the Legislative Audit Committee.

Power Rise 2019 2017 Net
Dustin Burrows 2 76 +74
Eddie Rodriguez 15 76 +61
Tom Craddick 17 76 +59
Terry Canales 18 76 +58
Greg Bonnen 20 76 +56
Joe Moody 23 76 +54
Drew Springer 24 76 +52
Jeff Leach 25 76 +52
Craig Goldman 11 63 +52
John Cyrier 28 76 +48
James Frank 38 70 +32
Toni Rose 14 44 +30
Armando Walle 30 56 +26
Chris Paddie 7 32 +25
Poncho Nevárez 29 54 +25
Stephanie Klick 42 76 +24
Tracy King 19 39 +20


Read the full story here: Mike Hailey’s Capitol Inside: Big Leaps and Long Falls in House with Blue Shade

HB 2 Property Tax Legislation

Filed January 31, 2019

The Speaker, Lt. Governor, and Governor jointly agree that property tax reform is an important issue for the legislature to address this session. While the legislature does not set–or collect–property taxes, the legislature is still responsible for ensuring the property tax system is fair, transparent, and accountable.

HB 2 by Burrows, like its identical companion in the Senate, starts the House down the path in accomplishing meaningful property tax reform. As filed, HB 2 includes provisions intended to increase transparency in the property tax rate calculations; make it easier for property taxpayers to navigate the appraisal review board process; and empower citizens to have a direct say in significant increases in property tax rates.

Now that the legislation is filed, it will work its way through the legislative process, with members and stakeholders being able to weigh in on its various concepts and the manner in which those goals are addressed.

Overview of HB 2 as filed

  • Transparency.
    • The current notification requirements for property tax rates are complex and difficult for the lay person to understand.
    • HB 2 modifies the process by which taxing jurisdictions set property tax rates by strengthening the notification provisions prior to jurisdictions adopting rates, and by making the changes easier to comprehend.
  • Reforming the Appraisal Review Board process.
    • Taxpayers protest their property tax values to the Appraisal Review Boards, which frequently are the last stop in the protest process.
    • HB 2 seeks to make these hearings more taxpayer friendly by modifying how the notices of hearings are given, and changing the times in which taxpayers may appear before the board, among other modifications.
  • Rollback rates.
    • The “no-new-revenue tax rate” as set forth in HB 2 (currently the “effective tax rate”) is the property tax rate in the current year that would raise the same revenue for the taxing jurisdiction as the previous year on property that is taxable in both the current tax year and the preceding tax year, given the current year’s property values. The rollback rate is the amount of increase above the no-new-revenue tax rate a jurisdiction may increase property tax rates without a vote to limit the property tax rate growth.
    • HB 2 as filed changes the rollback rate from 8% to 2.5% for all taxing districts with more than $15 million in combined property and sales tax revenue.
  • Voter engagement.
    • Under current law, if a property tax jurisdiction sets the current year’s property tax rate higher than the rollback rate, voters may petition the jurisdiction to hold a rollback election to cap the tax rate increase at the rollback rate.
    • As filed, HB 2 would change this election to a ratification election, giving voters the power automatically to vote on a property tax rate increase that exceeds the rollback rate.


Rep. Burrows (HD83) Co-Authors House Bill 2

Bill will enable Texas taxpayers to control local tax rates and tax increases

AUSTIN, TX – Today, Representative Dustin Burrows joined House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Governor Greg Abbott to introduce House Bill 2, which will slow the annual increase in property taxes, empower Texans with the automatic right to vote “no” on excessive tax increases and provide taxpayers the transparency to understand which elected officials or government entities raised their taxes. An identical (companion) bill, SB2 was filed in the Senate.

“Both Speaker Bonnen and the Governor recognize Texans are fed up with property tax hikes and understand the helplessness Texans feel in this regard,” said Rep. Dustin Burrows. “The House is committed to working together with the Senate and Governor to steer HB2 through the legislative process in an inclusive manner, a manner that allows all members of the legislature to represent their constituents in the bill’s structure.”

Rep. Burrows continued, “Control and transparency – those are the key focuses of this bill – this legislation will enable taxpayers across HD83 a more active role at the local level, where appraisals and tax rates are set. This gives taxpayers the transparency and the tools they need to do that.”

Burrows’ appointment speaks of his ability, character

Elected leadership positions and appointed committee assignments in the Texas Legislature are more than just important responsibilities. They also reflect a certain level of trust and respect from the ones making these decisions toward the person on the receiving end of the decision. It is affirmation of the most enjoyable kind, coming directly from one’s colleagues.

It is along those lines that South Plains residents should be gratified by and proud for State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, who was named chair of the executive committee for the House Republican Caucus in advance of Tuesday’s opening day of the 86th Legislative Session. Whether one is a political insider or simply content to enjoy the view from afar, rest assured this is an important deal, and it’s a responsibility not given lightly. Burrows secured his third term in the House last November, and it’s fair to say that he has not only raised his profile during the past few sessions, but along the way he has become part of the inner circle of recently elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton. It was Burrows who rose and gave a nominating speech on behalf of Bonnen earlier this week, and Burrows has gotten credit, along with others from the area’s delegation, for making sure Bonnen understands the priorities of West Texas.

According to a news release, the executive committee is charged with developing long-range strategies of the Republican Party, overseeing policy initiatives and communicating in the caucus. Burrows’ leadership will be critical in all three of those areas as lawmakers address a long list of legislative priorities between now and the scheduled end of the session in May.

“I am honored to be elected by my Republican colleagues of the Texas House to serve as Caucus Chair and look forward to working with each of our members to unify our caucus under our shared values and goals,” Burrows said in a news release.

Burrows went on to say the caucus will work to provide members with resources needed to inform and pass “sound, conservative legislation” and to be successful in 2020 re-election efforts. He emphasized the House Republican Caucus “works to promote limited government, fiscal responsibility and personal liberty.”

It is worth pointing out the other three members of the executive committee represent much larger communities (Fort Worth and Houston), which says something about Burrows’ ability to navigate the contours of party politics at the state level. Among the other important responsibilities of the caucus is, according to the release, to provide research, education, policy development and other resources to members.

In his nomination speech for Bonnen, Burrows closed with this: “Texas needs the House to lead this Session. We need a leader with the strength and tenacity to let that happen. It is for these reasons, and many more, that I nominate, my good friend, Dennis Bonnen, to be the next Speaker of the House. A Speaker for the entire house.”

We salute Burrows (and our entire West Texas delegation) for a willingness to serve, and we look forward to seeing their respective spheres of influence continue to expand during the ongoing session and into the future. The people of Texas are counting on their elected leaders to chart a bold and courageous course for the future for the state … the entire state.

A-J Media editorial board

Read more here: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/LubbockAvalancheJournal/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=LAJ%2F2019%2F01%2F10&entity=Ar00400&sk=C992E82D&mode=text

Bonnen Nomination Speech

Mr. Secretary, family, friends and guests – welcome to the “People’s House.”

Members: As we begin the 86th Legislative Session, let us reflect on the fact that Texans from all corners of the State, and all walks of life, have entrusted each of us: to craft policy that will improve the lives of all Texans; to help our Districts be heard and accomplish their agenda; and, to do all of this in a very short 140 days.

Members: This Session, Texans expect, and should expect us to: pass meaningful school finance reform; and, lessen the huge burden of property taxes for homeowners.

These big issues transcend the divides of: party, ideology, geography.

On this, the first day of the 86th Session, the question we have to ask is: will we do it?

I predict, at the end of 140 days, the answer is: yes. We are the Texas house. The greatest legislative body in the country.

However, in order to be successful, we will need a Speaker who will let the body work and realize its fullest potential; who will let Members represent their District; and, who will stand up what we accomplish.

That is why I rise to today to nominate a Speaker that the Texas House deserves – Dennis Bonnen.

Dennis was drafted into this race not just because of his list of qualifications (which are plentiful), but because of his character and vision for the House.

Dennis is someone who: respects the Members by telling each of us truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… regardless of our capacity to accept it.

Dennis is willing to jump into the arena and fight to find consensus… He doesn’t wait on the sidelines to see which way the political winds blew that day.

Time and time again, we have seen Dennis give voice to what is right, without regard for how powerful the other side might be.

Most importantly, he deeply respects this Chamber and believes that every Member must be allowed to fully represent their District.

Let me close with this: Texas needs the House to lead this Session. We need a leader with the strength and tenacity to let that happen. It is for these reasons, and many more, that I nominate, my good friend: Dennis Bonnen to be the next Speaker of the House. A Speaker for the entire house.

Texas House Republican Caucus Elects Executive Committee for the 86th Legislative Session

Today, the Texas House Republican Caucus voted to elect the Executive Committee of the House Republican Caucus for the 86th Legislative Session. Representative Dustin Burrows will serve as Chair, Representative Stephanie Klick as Vice-Chair, Representative Craig Goldman as Secretary and Representative Dan Huberty as Treasurer.

The Executive Committee develops long-range strategies to ensure the success of Republican Members of the House, oversees policy and communication for the Caucus, and works to accomplish the purpose for which the Caucus exists.

“I am honored to be elected by my Republican colleagues of the Texas House to serve as Caucus Chair and look forward to working with each of our members to unify our Caucus under our shared values and goals,” said Chair Dustin Burrows. “Over the course of the 86th Legislative Session, we will continue to provide our members with the resources they need to pass sound conservative legislation and to be successfully re-elected in 2020.”

The Caucus Executive Committee will make critical improvements in many areas, including the Caucus policy committee, messaging and communication, fundraising, and the addition of many new Member resources.

The Texas House Republican Caucus is comprised of all Republican Members serving in the Texas House of Representatives. The purpose of the Caucus is to provide research, education, policy development and other support to the Caucus Members and their staff.

The Texas House Republican Caucus works to promote limited government, fiscal responsibility and personal liberty to continue cultivating economic growth for all Texans.


West Texas Lawmakers File New Bills on Guns and Sanctuary Cities

West Texas lawmakers filed bills this week to be discussed in the upcoming Legislative Session.

State Representative for District 83, Dustin Burrows, filed four bills.

The first bill, HB 339 eliminates fees Texans pay when obtaining or renewing a handgun license.

“The second amendment is a right of self protection,” Burrows said. “And I don’t think that we need to be charging people $140 for a license, to license back to them their rights.”

Burrows said HB 339 would keep in place all other requirements for purchasing a gun, like criminal background checks.

When asked if the state budget would suffer without the fees, Burrows said he has done research and the money could be replaced with funds from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The second, HB 307 works to cut the cost of healthcare by making prices available to patients before treatment. The re-organization would allow patients the chance to shop around for the lowest cost of treatment. Burrows said while traveling his district this past year, many constituents expressed their struggles to pay healthcare premiums.

The third, HB 308 has to do with Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR)  funding. He said many rural schools districts across the state depend on this funding to cover 1/3 of their budget. The bill will provide additional funding and tax reductions. The current ASATR funding expires in 2017, but his bill would extend funding for 10 additional years.

The final bill, HB 338 is about acreage and bale contracts and providing protection for farmers from legal action. He said it protects farmers who produce under an acre contract, not a bale contract, and stops a merchant from coming back and suing them down the line for not producing what was estimated off an acre contract.

Senator Charles Perry working to eliminate Sanctuary Cities in Texas by filing Senate Bill 4.

“It’s important to me that we make sure and have a law and order society,” Perry said. “The irony, in this debate, is these individuals run from a country that has lost law and order. The first act is they break a law by entering, the second is they have another city that they enter that allows them to continue to be harbored, so they are breaking a law. If we continue to let this perpetuate they are going to have different laws that they pick and choose which ones they operate under and it creates a real problem.”

The bill is an extension of SB 185 which he filed in 2015, but wasn’t able to get enough votes in the Senate. He said, this time, he has support from the Senate and House of Representatives.

Perry said the Department of Justice is withholding federal grants to sanctuary cities. He identified those cities in Texas as Dallas, Houston and Austin.

According to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s office, the higher the number a bill is given, the higher the priority. Governor Patrick released a statement in support of Perry’s bill.

“I applaud Sen. Perry for taking such quick action in filing legislation to prohibit sanctuary cities in Texas. This legislation is key to keeping our border secure. Cities that decide to act as safe havens for illegal immigrants are not only breaking federal immigration laws, they are also creating a magnet for illegal immigration. I am committed to ending sanctuary cities once and for all in Texas and passing SB 4 will be a top priority in the 2017 Legislative Session,” Patrick said.

The 85th Legislative Session begins January 10, 2017.

Read here: http://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/klbk-news/west-texas-lawmakers-file-new-bills-on-guns-and-sanctuary-cities

Burrows Files Bill Affirming Right To Self-Protection, Removal of Handgun Carry License Fees In Texas

On Monday’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show, Texas District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows joined the show to talk about the upcoming 85th Texas Legislature convening on January 10, 2017, details on some bills that have already been filed, and other items on the agenda.

One of the bills Burrows has filed removes the licensing fee charged by Texas for citizen’s License To Carry handguns (LTC). Burrows said,

We charge as much as almost any other state for a new CHL (Concealed Handgun License) [now called LTC] license, or for the renewal thereof. And so my bill says, ‘Let’s get rid of it.’ There’s already a ton of exceptions out there, whether it’s for military veterans, people over the age of sixty, a lot of different exemptions. And so what I want to say is: All of us deserve an exemption. It’s very expensive. This is a Constitutional right, the right of self protection. Society gets a benefit from having licensed CHL holders around, in case bad things were to happen.

Burrows continued, saying,

Background checks would still be in place, all of those things still in place. We’re just removing the fees. It would go into the DPS budget, and we’d all have a little easier time getting a [LTC] license.

Burrows and Hasty also discussed the possibility of ‘constitutional carry’, ‘sanctuary cities’, health care and health insurance, agricultural bills, Child Protective Service and foster care of children.

On the topic of sanctuary cities, Burrows said,

You can’t have cities go rogue. You can’t have cities that basically decide that, ‘Ah we’re going to ignore law, and we’re going to do whatever we want.’ I mean that’s no respect for the rule of law, and they don’t get to do that.

Listen to the entire interview with Representative Dustin Burrows in the video above.

The Chad Hasty Show airs weekday mornings live from 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM on News/Talk 95.1 FM and 790 AM KFYO, online at KFYO.com, and on the free RadioPup app. Follow Chad on Twitter via @ChadHastyRadio & KFYO Radio at @KFYO!

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Read More: Right To Self-Protection Bill In Texas Legislature | http://kfyo.com/dustin-burrows-interview/?trackback=tsmclip

Texas Tribune: As first bills are filed, battle lines for 2017 session begin to emerge

On the first day lawmakers could file bills for consideration during the 2017 session, leaders from both parties began drawing battle lines for fights over taxation, immigration and social issues that will likely dominate the upcoming meeting of the Texas Legislature.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, announced priorities that he said reflected a commitment to the “conservative values” that helped propel Donald Trump’s election as president.

“Starting in 2017, we will have a friend in the White House who was clearly elected because the people of this country believe in the conservative principles that have guided the way govern in Texas — life, liberty and lean government that promotes prosperity,” Patrick said. “I remain committed to those principles.”

Minutes later, a group of Democrats from the Texas House criticized what they characterized as an embrace of divisiveness in the Senate and promised to focus on what they characterized as “kitchen table” matters.

“We have been the grownups” in the Legislature, said Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. “We are going to continue to be the grownups.”

Patrick’s top two priorities are passing a balanced budget — which is required by state law — and reforming the state’s property tax system. The rest of the list is filled with ideas that will be stringently opposed by Democrats and, in some cases, moderate Republicans, including limiting which bathrooms transgender people could use; imposing more restrictions on abortion; strengthening the state’s voter ID law, and allowing parents more choice in the schools that their children attend.

Lubbock lawmakers

Several lawmakers from the Lubbock-area were filing bills they hope will make it out of committee and on to the floors for consideration.

Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, filed two bills having to do with school funding and health care — two topics he has said will be focal points in this upcoming session. HB 307 has to do with making health care costs more transparent, and the bill seeks to have health facilities or practitioners disclose the exact or estimated price amount before any non-emergency service. The information, according to the text, shall include the amount as well as how much the patient’s health benefit plan will reimburse the facility or practitioner for service, or how much they will charge if it’s not under the patient’s health benefit plan.

And HB 308, which Burrows also filed Monday, seeks to extend certain school district’s additional revenue provided from the state for tax reduction.

Drew Springer, who’s the representative in the Texas House for counties to the east of Lubbock — such as Floyd, Crosby and Garza — filed nine bills Monday.

He filed HB 207 to give municipalities the ability to restrict a registered sex offender from going in or within a specified distance of any child safety zone. He filed HB 212 that says an election for the issuance of bonds by a political subdivision other than a municipal utility district shall be held on the November uniform election date.

Other bills filed by Springer had to do with day designations, like designating Oct. 19 as Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, and March 21 as BRAVE Day. A few others are directed at Congress, like urging legislators to acknowledge that the vegetation line on the south bank of the Red River forms the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas, and encouraging them to revise policies that promote the waste of water after an irrigated crop has been declared a failure.


The Democrats, meanwhile said they’d focus on reforming the state’s school finance system, improving access to health care and making it easier for residents to register to vote and cast a ballot on election day.

Many Democrats and school officials had been hoping that the Supreme Court of Texas would rule that the state’s method of funding schools is unconstitutional, forcing the state to take on the political perilous task of rebuilding it. That didn’t happen, though the court did say the system was problematic and should be fixed.

Democrats listed it near the top.

“We know that the school finance system is broken,” said Rep. Mary González, D-Clint. “We know that, as the Supreme Court said, we need transformational change.”

One key way to do that is for the state to send more money to the school districts, which would ease the property tax burden that homeowners pay to fund K-12 education, Democrats said. Howard, for instance, said she filed a bill on Monday that would force the state to pay at least half of the cost of education each year.

“That could go a long way toward reducing the burden of local taxpayers,” she said.

Democrats said they will also focus on improving the state’s troubled foster care and Child Protective Services systems. And they said they will attempt to work with Republicans on criminal justice reform,.

They expressed confidence that they will be able to work with Republican House Speaker Joe Straus on many issues.

Straus has also listed overhauling school finance and fixing foster care and CPS as top goals. But he has urged caution over the state’s fiscal situation, noting that the shaky oil and gas industry could limit the money that lawmakers have to spend.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2016/11/14/dan-patrick-texas-democrats-priorities-2017/.

Matt Dotray, A-J Media, contributed to this story.

Read here: http://lubbockonline.com/texas/2016-11-14/texas-tribune-first-bills-are-filed-battle-lines-2017-session-begin-emerge#.WCsiFJMrKi5

Texas Legislators Preparing to Make Big Changes in Child Protective Services

During a year of major changes and criticism of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Legislators are getting ready to overhaul the department. State leaders issued a directive in October in light of “the backlog of children not seen within the statutory guidelines remains nearly unchanged since the spring.” They called upon the Texas legislature to make budget decisions in their 85th Legislative Session to address the ongoing resource needs at DFPS (which manages Child Protective Services).

These state leaders are asking for more case workers and investigators, a culture of accountability, and more agency partnerships with local faith based organizations.

“I’ve been on a committee and we’ve been to several different cities and we’ve heard horrific stories from some of the children in the CPS system and foster care, and the results are unacceptable,” said Dustin Burrows, State Representative for District 83. “I’m very proud of the (House) speaker and the governor and the lieutenant governor for saying this is gonna be a priority next session.”

Representative Burrows explained that the legislature has talked about making changes to DFPS before, but this session funding those changes will be a main focus.

“We’ve already seen a new commissioner put in place to try and shake some things up. We want to make sure we give him the tools and resources he needs to make sure we have better results,” Burrows said referring to the appointment of DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman this year.

Burrows has been busy researching and gaining insight before he heads in to the 85th session of the Texas legislature which begins January 10, 2017. Already there are a few things  Burrows believes need to be funded when it comes to DFPS:

“More CPS workers, better CPS worker retention, supporting our faith based community who is  providing a lot of the services, then taking a look at the family members to try and make sure that we put them in a position where they can care for the children,” he said.

Burrows explained that Commisioner Whitman will be responsible for shaping many of the policy changes in DFPS, it will be the legislature’s job to provide Whitman with the tools and funding to make those changes a reality.

Burrows is especially concerned with curbing the turnover that exists for employees in the CPS system as well as funding faith based organizations that support abused and neglected children in the community.

“One of the big things [in Lubbock] historically is our faith based community has really stepped up and we have great institutions that provide a lot of the services. I want to make sure they have a seat at the table this next session,” he said.

One of those faith based organizations on the South Plains is the Children’s Home of Lubbock, a facility that supports and houses children who in need.

“I’m really excited about the changes they’re trying to push forward,” said Mary Lauren Taylor, Child Placing Program Director for the Children’s Home. “One of the things they’re trying to do is increase the number of foster and adoptive homes which is something that’s really needed across the state. It’s really hard for kids to come into care and get separated from their siblings,  and if there’s no placements in their region they get sent our of town to another place where they don’t know anyone.”

Taylor has worked with helping at-risk children for a decade, and she said that the recent coverage of the DFPS overhaul is giving the public a clearer picture of  how CPS and foster care work in Texas.

“The caseworkers have such a difficult job and they’re paid so little, so it makes it hard for them to stick around and it makes it more difficult on the child and their family to get to reunification or adoption down the road,”
she said.

Taylor explained that there just aren’t enough beds for  the many kids in the South Plains who need to be placed in foster care.  She’s hoping that community members and churches in the Lubbock area step up and help provide foster homes to support many children who otherwise might not find homes in the region.

“This is a problem for the community as a whole, not just the agencies that work with CPS kids,” she said.

She also hopes that when legislators head to Austin in January, that they keep Texas children in focus.

“I would hope that when they’re going through the different policies that are in place that they remember that these are kids and they are the most helpless and [defenseless] in our community, they need someone to step up for them and help them have a better life than they might currently have,” she said.

Read here: http://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/kamc-news/texas-legislators-preparing-to-make-big-changes-in-child-protective-services