Nichols files first bills to protect homeowners
Austin — The 82st Legislative Session does not start until January 11, but legislators could pre-file bills starting today. State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) took the opportunity to file bills to protect homeowners from escalating property taxes and abuses of eminent domain.
appraisal caps (SB 175)
The first bill Nichols filed is to slow rapidly rising taxable values on Texas homes.
"Escalating tax appraisals make homeownership less and less affordable," Nichols said. "We need to keep citizens from being taxed out their homes and significantly limit increasing tax appraisals, which result in larger tax bills."
Currently, an appraisal district may raise the taxable value of a home by 10 percent a year, or up to 30 percent if there was no increase in the previous two years. This results in homeowners paying 10 to 30 percent more in property taxes from one year to the next, even if the tax rate stays the same.
Senate Bill 175 cuts the maximum rate of increase in half, from 10 percent to 5 percent. Nichols pointed out how important it is to limit the resulting increase in people's property taxes, even when the value of their home increases.
"When your home value increases, it doesn't mean you have any more money in your pocket today. All that value is tied up in the home," said Nichols. "We must keep the maximum increase as low as possible so individuals and families can continue to afford living in their homes, even when the value increases."
Nichols filed similar legislation in previous sessions, but is filing it again because he believes it is an important issue the state must address.
"In Texas we have placed an unfair share on the tax burden on homeowners," said Nichols. "This bill is a way to help make the system more fair."
Because lowering the maximum taxable increase requires a constitutional amendment, Nichols also filed Senate Joint Resolution 11.
protecting private property (SB 174)
Nichols' second bill, Senate Bill 174, would prohibit state or local government from taking private land for the purpose of recreational projects such as city parks and trails.
"No homeowner should lose the roof over their heads so others can have a place to play," said Nichols. "Eminent domain should never be used for recreation projects, period."
Ending eminent domain abuse continues to be a priority for Nichols. In his first session as senator he co-authored legislation creating a Landowners' Bill of Rights and he has consistently voted for landowner protections.