Columns

Week of May 6-12, 2019

Property tax reform bill goes to conference committee
AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on May 1 passed Senate Bill 2, legislation proposing to bring property tax relief to homeowners, but the lower house slowed the bill’s momentum by tacking on 25 floor amendments.
If finally passed in the coming days, the legislation would lower the rollback rate for most local taxing authorities from 8 percent to 3.5 percent and 2 percent for school districts. The bill also allows local option elections on proposals to exceed rollback rates.

Week of April 29 - May 5, 2019

Top issues remain in play as Legislature enters final month
AUSTIN — Only a month is left for lawmakers to get the state’s business done in the 86th regular session of the Texas Legislature.
Still unfinished are the issues at the top of a list shared by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen: the passage of a state budget for fiscal years 2020-2021, property tax reform and school finance reform. 

EARLY DELIVERY: Week of April 22-28, 2019

Conference committee to work out differences in state budget
AUSTIN — After Easter weekend, conferees for the Texas House and Senate must work out differences in the two chambers’ versions of a fiscal 2020-2021 state budget to send to Gov. Greg Abbott.
Concurrence is required on how to spend an estimated $250 billion in revenue available to fund the state’s fiscal years 2020-2021. Once an agreement has been reached, the budget bill will be subject to an up or down vote in each chamber before it is forwarded to the governor’s office for final approval.

Week of April 15-21, 2019

Top officeholders join together in push for funding solution
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on April 10 released a joint statement promoting a twofold method for the 86th Texas Legislature to curb property tax increases across the state.

Not just native Texans, hardened journalists, too

Dateline: Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Canadian, Texas.
It was just another newspaper deadline day in the Texas Panhandle. Started about 4 a.m. Another 14 or 15 hours, and it would be over. Enough joe from the coffee shop next door, and we’d be okay.
A couple of days earlier, Amarillo’s National Weather Service had begun issuing a series of increasingly dire warnings that the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles would experience extremely high winds at midweek.  That was nothing new. Been there, done that. 

Yesterday's News: Recalling women's pages

While community news and lifestyle pages have replaced the "Women's News" pages of past decades, many in the newspaper business recall the kind of news discussed in this presentation at a TPA convention 80 years ago.

"How to Develop an Interesting Women's Page," a presentation by Miss Laura Lane, society editor for the Vernon Daily Record, at the 60th annual convention of the Texas Press Association, June 8-10, 1939 in Lubbock.

Political advertising and social media

The Texas Ethics Commission recently revised rules regulating disclosures in online political advertising. Among other changes, the new rule exempts political advertising shared or re-posted on social media by persons other than a candidate or political committee from general requirements to disclose the message as political advertising and to identify the candidate or person responsible for the ad.

By Paul C. Watler