New year means new laws & new legislative session in Texas

Texas Capitol
Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 02:34:19-05

Several new state laws took effect on Jan. 1, just days before a new legislative session begins in Austin.

One of those laws, S.B. 12, caps the amount of property tax that can be levied against elderly people or people with disabilities by school districts.

The Texas Tribune reports in order to make up for the loss in revenue for schools, the state is also expanding state aid for districts.

Starting this month, the Texas judicial system is also expanding.

"There's 10 new district courts. Bell County picked up on of those, we have a new judge," explained Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple.

One of Shine's Democratic peers, Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, also applauded the change.

"We've had some reforms to our judicial system, ensuring that our court system is going to keep up with population growth and case load demand," Talarico said on Tuesday.

The changes come in advance of a new legislative session set to begin Jan. 10. As of Tuesday, 920 bills have already been filed.

Issues of border security, taxes, abortion and education are among those within those bills.

"There will be about 7,000 new laws proposed," said Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson. "Only about 20 percent of those will actually become law."

Shine and Talarico both noted property taxes and education being at the top of their priorities as they head back to the statehouse next week.

"My priority is always going to be property tax issues, trying to get enrollment funding for public education, water issues and anything related to economic development," said Shine.

Legislators will also have to decide what to do with a $27 billion budget surplus from the previous session.

"I'm hopeful that a lot of the surplus will not only go to property tax relief, but also go to investments in the next generation, which is our students," Talarico said.