State Senators talk about latest session
The Texas legislative session has come to a close and with it, bills have been signed into law that will affect Texans across the state. State Senators Brian Birdwell and Beverly Powell told the Burleson Star what they think constituents need to know about this session.
Birdwell, who represents District 22 in the Texas Senate, said the most substantive accomplishments of the session were the passage of Senate Bill 30, which provides greater transparency in bond elections, annexation reform with the passage of House Bill 347 and the reduction of regulations in the alcohol and beverage industry through House Bill 1545.
Senate Bill 30, a bill authored by Birdwell and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott June 7, requires bond elections to be voted on in separate propositions so that bonds are itemized for voters rather than packaged together in a single proposition.
Birdwell said SB 30 “created the requirement and statute for bond elections to be treated as a buffer to give greater transparency to the voters.”
“What Senate Bill 30 does is it says, ‘if you’re going to authorize this kind of debt, you ought to give voters the opportunity to tell you what they like and what they don’t like,’” Birdwell said.
Birdwell said HB 347 completed annexation reform by eliminating the tier status. Now every county, regardless of population, must give permission before being annexed.
“There are people in my home county of Hood, in Johnson County, all the counties of Texas, that live in the unincorporated areas for a specific reason,” Birdwell said.
Birdwell said thanks to HB 347, “Texans aren’t being pulled into a new taxing district over which they had no voice in previous debt that had been signed up for.”
The Sunset Advisory Commission, of which Birdwell was the chair, removed many of the regulations facing Texas’s alcohol and beverage industry.
HB 1545, which Birdwell sponsored, permits beer-to-go sales for craft breweries and cut the number of permits in the alcohol and beverage industry in half, Birdwell said.
The senator said this now gives Mom-and-Pop businesses the opportunity to grow if they want to.
“I would categorize this bill as the biggest non-tax related bill victory for the citizens of the state of Texas,” Birdwell said.
Powell, who represents District 10 in the Texas Senate, said in an email that her office is “laser focused on the issues that matter most: public school finance, economic development, workforce training and access to quality health care.”
Powell said the greatest accomplishment during the session was the passage of House Bill 3, which reforms public school funding and “will invest over $6 billion in public schools.”
The governor signed the bill into law June 15.
“The bill will invest in the classroom, implement full day pre-K, reduce recapture and reform property taxes,” Powell said.
During the session, Powell served on the Education, Higher Education, Natural Resources & Economic Development and Health & Human Services committees.
“On these committees, we were able to address the real needs of Texas families,” Powell said.
Powell now plans to travel throughout the district to provide information about the session and “begin crucial conversations with constituents as we develop our legislative agenda for the next session,” she said.