Rep. Jim Pitts Recaps Senate Bill 1
During the First Called Special session of the 82nd Legislature, I expended a tremendous amount of effort working on Senate Bill 1, which I sponsored in the House.
SB1 encompassed a broad range of cost-saving measures for the State of Texas as well as other much needed provisions that ranged from protecting small businesses to ensuring the integrity of state issued IDs.
I worked closely with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to secure passage of this necessary piece of legislation, and applaud the Governor for promptly signing the bill into law. Below are some of the highlights of Senate Bill 1, which goes into effect on Sept. 28, 2011.
- An amendment I added onto SB1 enables Texas companies with less than $1 million in annual revenues to continue to be exempted from the state business tax for another two years. The exemption on the business tax was set to be reduced to $600,000 or less of income in 2012. The $1 million exemption now will expire in 2014. This is great news for Texas small business owners.
- I also amended SB1 to include a provision stating that the Texas Department of Public Safety shall maintain indexes that contain the citizenship status of applicants for a driver's license or personal ID card. For citizens who last renewed their licenses before 2008, it means a birth certificate or passport should be taken to the Department of Public Safety the next time they renew a driver’s license or state ID.
- With the broad use of computers in today's society, one large cost-saving measure is to post reports online for public viewing. Provisions in SB 1 allow State offices like the Comptroller and the Secretary of State to publish these reports online, saving money on printing supplies as well as becoming more environmentally friendly.
- We also worked hard for the veterans in SB 1. One provision allows a surviving spouse of a veteran to pay property taxes in installments, lessening their financial burden. Another provision allows the Veterans Assistance Fund to be used to identify additional federal benefits that may be available for Texas veterans.
- The always-popular Sales Tax Holiday that falls before the first week of school has been moved to that spot permanently to match up with the uniform school start date we previously established.
- In 1977, the Texas Legislature created the Sunset Advisory Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. The bill includes provisions that implement selected Sunset recommendations for agencies including the Railroad Commission, Department of Information Resources, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
- The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) is now allowed to use certain tobacco settlement funds to pay off debt services on bonds. This would increase the funding available for cancer research grants. This provision also allows CPRIT to issue bonds as needed to pay for research project costs. By issuing these bonds on a pay-as-you-go method, the state is able to save even more money while still conducting the necessary research.
- Another provision in SB 1 relates to sales tax resulting from online sales. It establishes that online sales merchants must collect state and local sales taxes from Texas customers if the company owns at least 50 percent of a business in Texas.