With everything going on during the holiday season, it's hard for many Texans to see much further than their New Year's resolutions. For the Legislature, the New Year brings the next wave of changes based on work during the Regular Session, which ended on May 27.
While many provisions of the 86th Legislature came to pass either with the Governor's signature or the passing of September 1st, many more -- some very important to Denton -- will come to pass over the next year.
At the top of that list is the opening of a new Driver's License Office in Denton. In its November update, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said the project remains on schedule for opening in December 2020. They also confirmed that the Texas Facilities Commission at its October meeting approved moving forward with the Denton location.
Earlier this month, DPS officials announced that a new online appointment system would be rolled out statewide to cut down on wait-times. This system, combined with an aggressive hiring program to staff more full-time employees at high-capacity offices, will continue to address longstanding concerns over wait-times at driver's license offices across the state.
In May, the city of Corinth will put a referendum before voters to approve using a portion of the cities local option sales tax to create and fund a fire prevention, control, and emergency medical services district. If approved, this district will help support the newly constructed fire station to improve the existing service in surrounding communities.
Perhaps at the top of most Texans' wish list for 2020 is the rolling implementation of the Property Tax Reform and Relief Act. In the next year, cities, schools and most taxing entities will see dramatic changes to the property tax system.
The most substantial change is the lowering of the rollback rate from 8 percent down to 3.5 percent for cities and taxing entities, and down to 2.5 percent for school districts. As these folks prepare their budget for 2021, they will either present a budget that doesn't exceed growth above these rates; or, they will have to seek approval from voters in a special election to raise property taxes above the respective rates.
A bevy of other provisions within Senate Bill 2, the bill targeting property tax reform, will take place on Jan. 1, 2020, or in the months following. This includes much-needed changes to the operations of appraisal review boards.
It has taken the Legislature a long time to make these substantial changes -- to property taxes and school finance reform. Texans will soon begin to see how these changes will affect their lives and provide a brighter future for the Lone Star State in 2020.
Lynn Stucky, D.V.M., is state representative for Texas House District 64, serving the cities of Denton, Krum, Corinth, Shady Shores, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas, and rural northwest Denton County.