Senator Tommy Williams
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0104

May 26, 2005
Contact: Lauren Hutton (512) 463-0104

Property Taxpayers Get Relief From New State Legislation
State Sen. Tommy Williams' Legislation Heads to Governor's Desk for Approval

AUSTIN -- "How do you spell property tax relief?" State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, answered that question with a series of bills delivering protection to property taxpayers across the State of Texas.

The Property Tax Accountability Act (PTA Act), Senate Bill 18, passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday, and promises to give taxpayers more opportunity to hold elected officials to a higher level of accountability. The Act requires cities and counties attempting to increase tax rates to hold two public hearings and imposes stricter disclosure requirements. Current law requires taxing entities to give notice and hold hearings if property taxes rise more than 3 percent. Senate Bill 18 calls for notice and hearings for any increase.

"I want taxing jurisdictions to know if they collect one penny more than the year before, they need to give notice to taxpayers," he said. "Cities and counties are not going to have the 2.99 percent free ride they had in the past."

An additional part of the property tax payer protection package allows small business and home owners to avoid costly litigation if they want to fight an increased appraisal. Senate Bill 1351 offers arbitration for a nominal fee as an alternative to costly and time consuming litigation.

Senate Bill 256, which strengthens privacy laws regarding Texas students, also passed in the House. The bill makes it harder for undesirables to gain access to your children's information by requiring school districts to provide written notification to parents of their right to object to the release of their child's personal information.

Williams' also received final House approval on two administrative cost saving measures. "Making sure more of each tax dollar is actually spent on public education is the goal of

Senate Bills 1569 and 1570," said Williams. These bills save the State of Texas more than $31 million combined over the next two years.

First elected in 1996 to the Texas House of Representatives, Tommy Williams was later elected to the Senate in 2002 and re-elected in 2004. He represents Senate District 4, covering all or portions of Montgomery, Harris, Liberty, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties. Williams serves as Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Committee and as a member of the Senate Criminal Justice, Education and Finance committees