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Newsletter: Special Session Recap

The special legislative session that ended last week gave the Texas House a chance to work on some of our top priorities. Ultimately, some efforts were more successful than others. But that's how legislating often goes: You achieve what you can and you keep working for the next opportunity to get something done.

Here's a recap of what happened on some important issues:

Retired teachers' health care: The Legislature directed $212 million toward helping the retired teachers who have seen the most severe increases in their health insurance deductibles, premiums, and other expenses.

Public education: We provided additional funding to help school districts facing severe fiscal challenges, and we designated extra dollars to help schools educate students with autism and dyslexia. Unfortunately, the Texas Senate blocked our attempt to put another $1.5 billion into public education over the next two years. The funding that the Senate blocked would have helped nearly every school district and it would have reduced the amount of local property tax dollars that school districts send to the state through Robin Hood. This was a setback, but the House will continue to prioritize a better school finance system for students and taxpayers.

Property taxes: The House voted to put new limits on property-tax growth and give property owners better information about appraisals and the setting of local tax rates. In the session's short time span, we did not reach final agreement with the Senate on this issue.

Annexation: Residents of unincorporated areas near large cities will now have a vote on whether they want to be annexed. We worked closely with city officials in San Antonio to include a buffer zone around military bases in order to protect those bases from development.

Maternal mortality: We passed a bill to extend the life of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force. Texas has an alarmingly high maternal mortality rate, and this task force will continue to look at ways to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in Texas.

Thank you for your input on these issues and others that we addressed in the special session. I also want to thank the Members of the Texas House for their many hours of work. We carefully considered every idea that Governor Abbott put on the agenda, we listened to constituents, and we acted in the best interest of Texas. Now we will begin to look at issues that should be addressed when the Legislature meets again in January 2019. As always, I welcome and appreciate your feedback.