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Rinaldi-led Coalition Saves Texans’ Ability to Collect Lawyer Fees for Beating Govt in Tax Court

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It’s a rare event in the Texas Legislature for a bill to make it all the way through the committee process and onto the floor of the chamber, only to be killed by record vote.

Yesterday, it happened.

Rep. Hugh Shine presented to the body HB 2669, a bill requested by the state Comptroller’s office.

Every year, Texans’ property taxes go up. Those rates are determined by the appraised value of the property. The value is appraised by local government.

Under current law, Texans can challenge the appraisal value in court and try to get their tax payments reduced. But that’s an expensive process for those who choose to go to battle.

But if they win in court, they’re going to want their attorneys’ fees repaid to them by the government.

Shine’s bill would have prohibited citizens from collecting those fees.

Reps. Mark Keough, Harold Dutton, and Jonathan Stickland stood at the back microphone and questioned whether the bill would discourage poor Texans from fighting in court, if they knew they wouldn’t be able to recover the tens of thousands of dollars in fees after winning.

Rep. Matt Rinaldi gave the official speech in opposition to the bill. Rep. Larry Phillips took the back microphone to complain conversely that without the bill, citizens can be forced to pay fees to the government if they lose that battle.

Rinaldi argued that is already the discretion of the court, but emphasized again that this bill would strip citizens of their ability to receive reimbursement. Dutton nodded in agreement.

The bill was killed with only 19 in support. See the record vote:

Yeas – Allen; Alvarado; Burns; Canales; Cook; Darby; Davis, S.; Farrar; González; Guerra; Howard; Israel; Johnson, E.; Murphy; Oliveira; Perez; Phillips; Raney; Shine

Nays – Alonzo; Anchia; Anderson, C.; Anderson, R.; Arévalo; Ashby; Bailes; Bell; Bernal; Biedermann; Blanco; Bohac; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Burkett; Burrows; Button; Cain; Capriglione; Clardy; Coleman; Collier; Cortez; Cosper; Craddick; Cyrier; Dale; Davis, Y.; Dean; Deshotel; Dutton; Elkins; Faircloth; Fallon; Flynn; Frank; Frullo; Geren; Gervin-Hawkins; Giddings; Goldman; Gonzales; Gooden; Gutierrez; Hefner; Hernandez; Hinojosa; Holland; Isaac; Johnson, J.; Kacal; Keough; King, K.; King, P.; Klick; Koop; Krause; Kuempel; Lambert; Landgraf; Lang; Larson; Laubenberg; Leach; Longoria; Lozano; Lucio; Martinez; Metcalf; Meyer; Miller; Minjarez; Moody; Morrison; Muñoz; Murr; Neave; Nevárez; Oliverson; Ortega; Parker; Paul; Phelan; Price; Raymond; Reynolds; Rinaldi; Roberts; Rodriguez, E.; Rodriguez, J.; Romero; Sanford; Schaefer; Schofield; Schubert; Shaheen; Simmons; Smithee; Springer; Stephenson; Stickland; Stucky; Swanson; Thierry; Thompson, E.; Thompson, S.; Tinderholt; Turner; Uresti; VanDeaver; Villalba; Vo; Walle; White; Wilson; Workman; Wray; Wu; Zedler; Zerwas

Present, not voting – Mr. Speaker; Paddie(C)

Absent, Excused – Huberty

Absent, Excused, Committee Meeting – Herrero

Absent – Dukes; Guillen; Hunter; King, T.; Pickett; Rose; Sheffield

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