© 2017 by Kevin Stewart

Shaheen's Rollback Amendment to SB 669

May 25, 2017

     On Saturday, the House debated SB 669, relating to the system for protesting or appealing ad valorem tax determinations. This is the bill that most of SB 2 was tacked onto in an attempt to avoid a special session. In the midst of a robust debate between Representative Bonnen and Representative Stickland, there were some interesting procedural maneuverings. Much of the debate was focused on a provision of SB 2 that was left out of Bonnen’s amendment. The provision at issue would have required a rollback election if a district exceeded a 5% increase in tax rates.

     Representative Shaheen filed an amendment to add this provision to SB 669. The amendment was never heard, never debated, and is not mentioned in the House Journal. The Speaker explained that the amendment was not germane to the bill. But there was no point of order called, nor was there an explanation of the ruling in the journal, as required by Rule 14, Sec. 8. So, what happened?

     The answer is not in any rule. It’s actually in the explanatory notes to Rule 11, Section 2 (§3.6 of the Handbook). The notes state, “The presiding officer will decline to lay before the house an amendment that is determined to be nongermane, 84 H.J. Ref 1687-90. Under long-standing practice, the speaker applies stricter scrutiny to amendments near the end of a legislative session in order to prevent defeated legislation from being considered again in the form of an amendment.”

     As mentioned by the Speaker, the rollback-elections provision in SB 2 was not germane to SB 669. The chair used the powers granted by this long-standing practice, keeping the amendment from hitting the floor. Unfortunately, Rule 14, Section 8 only requires an explanation of “the final ruling on a point of order,” which there was no opportunity to call. In other words, we will never know why the rollback provision was not germane.

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