News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2007
Contact: Alicia Phillips
(512) 463-0103

Nichols' First Two Bills Protect Property Owners
Senator Nichols takes a strong stand for property rights and protecting homeowners from escalating taxes.

AUSTIN -- State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) filed his first two bills today in the Texas Senate. SB 575 reduces the maximum taxable appraisal increase on a home from 10 percent to five percent annually. SB 576 prohibits government from condemning private property for public recreational use.

"Protecting the rights of homeowners is a top item on my agenda," said Nichols.

SB 575:

"We must provide real tax relief to our homeowners and make homeownership in Texas more affordable and accessible," Nichols said. "By capping the homestead appraisal at five percent, I believe we will be well on our way to providing this much-needed relief," he continued.

In addition to SB 575, changing the maximum rate increase of taxable value requires a vote to amend the Texas Constitution. Therefore, Nichols filed Senate Joint Resolution 23, which, if passed by the Legislature, will allow voters to make the necessary constitutional change.

Nichols praised the property tax cuts passed by legislators last May but said more relief is needed.

"The Legislature has taken steps to reduce property tax rates," said Nichols. "However, reducing the tax rate alone is not enough. I am committed to reining in out-of-control appraisal rates. Capping annual increases at a maximum of five percent, combined with reduced tax rates, will bring significant relief to all homeowners."

SB 576:

Texas law currently allows the government to condemn private property for recreational use.

"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, period."

SB 576 in no way prohibits the voluntary sale of property, but removes the government's right to take land against a property owner's will.

Nichols' inspiration for the bill comes from first-hand experience as a civic leader in Cherokee County.

"I've seen residents fight and struggle for years to keep land their family has owned for generations," said Nichols. "No one should have to endure such hardship merely for the sake of someone else's recreation."

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