Can The State Force Houston to Exempt Churches, Schools & Non-Profits From The Drainage Fee?

Mayor Annise Parker and Houston city council will try again on Wednesday, April 6, to pass the Rebuild Houston implementation plan.

It was tagged earlier this week, but on the same day State Senator Dan Patrick successfully passed SB 714 out of a Texas Senate Committee.

Senator Patrick’s bill  would remove schools, churches and non-profits from the drainage fee, or proposition one, which was passed by voters last November.

Sen Patrick’s Drainage Fee Exemption

However, questions are now being raised about whether Senator Patrick’s legislation would violate the Texas Constitution. 

I recently obtained a copy of a letter sent to State Senator Rodney Ellis by Houston City Attorney Dave Feldman.

CITY LETTER

Feldman concludes that the proposed bill is a local bill, aimed solely at the City of Houston in direct contravention of the  Texas Constitution. 

The Houston republican says he expects  the bill to pass the full Senate with support from other lawmakers who represent the Houston area. He says State Rep. Harold Dutton, a democrat, will advance the bill in the House.

You may recall that last Friday, Mayor Annise Parker offered a compromise plan that would exempt churches and schools from the drainage fee. However, the vote stalled Wednesday at city council when some members began asking her to broaden the list of  groups that would qualify for the exemption.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens at city hall and the state legislature.

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