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Tax Relief 

 

Mark was instrumental in passing $4 billion in property tax and franchise tax cuts during the 84th Legislative Session.

He authored legislation that would completely eliminate the franchise tax in Texas and co-authored one of the key bills in the legislature, House Bill 32.  HB 32 ultimately passed,  cutting 25% of the state's franchise tax.  This tax has been burdensome to all businesses across the state, hurting the small businesses the most, and hampering job growth for years.  The passage of HB 32 is the first step towards the ultimate repeal of the franchise tax entirely.  

As a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1, Mark and his colleagues successfully amended the tax code to increase the amount of the residence homestead exemption from school district property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000.  This will help offset out of control property tax bills which are crippling Texas families.  

Additionally, Mark offered legislation that would cut the current home appraisal cap which limits how much a property can rise in value year over year.  The current cap is 10% and through legislation offered, the cap would have been reduced to 5%.  The legislation was left pending in committee, but amendments were offered to Senate Bill 1, attempting to make these important and necessary changes to the appraisal system.  The amendments were ruled non-germane during floor debate.  

Mark was proud to author and co-author legislation that puts money back into the pockets of Texas taxpayers and recognizes there is still much work to be done.  During the next legislative session, he will reintroduce legislation that will further cut the franchise tax, red

Transportation

In a rapidly growing district like ours, it is vital that we provide adequate roadways to keep up with the demands of the population.  During the 84th Legislative Session, Mark helped pass transportation bills that will increase funding for road projects without increasing taxes and also update the procedure for approving these projects by reducing waste and inefficiency.

Senate Joint Resolution 5, which must be approved by voters this November, will add $2.5 billion a year in sales tax and use tax revenue to the state highway fund.  The fund will be bolstered further with additional monies from the motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax.

Meanwhile, Mark co-authored House Bill 20 which forces the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to create a planning process which updates agency procedures to guarantee they reach the goals we set for them.  Additionally, local entities will offer guidance as to how to rank and prioritize road projects when financial assistance is sought from the state.  HB 20 also sets up a committee to review the department's revenue, funding, and other policies in order to implement performance based decision making.

Mark successfully worked with colleagues to end diversions from the state gas tax which were going to fund programs unrelated to the maintenance and construction of state highways.  These diversions will take effect during this budget biennium and will ensure billions of taxpayers' dollars are going to the vital transportation projects they were intended for when first created.   

 

 

Border Security

 

Because the Federal Government's unwillingness to secure the border, and due to the influx of illegal immigrants storming our border with Mexico, Texas has stood up and acted on behalf of our citizens. 

Before being sworn in, Mark went to the border where he received briefings from Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers and Border Patrol, and observed first-hand the difficulties Texas has with securing our border.  One of the things that stood out to Mark while on this tour was that where DPS officers were conducting their operations, the illegal crossings were virtually zero.  Armed with this knowledge, one of the priorities of his freshman session was to secure the border and end programs that are considered magnets for illegal immigration.

Mark was one of the co-authors of House Bill 11, which dramatically increases the number of DPS officers stationed along the border.  HB 11 also increases the penalties for those caught smuggling people across the border and establishes checkpoints heading into Mexico to search for weapons and drugs that flow illegally into Mexico only to return and be used violently in Texas.

 

Religious Liberty

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states was a blow to the heart of our system of representative democracy.  If you recall in 2005, more than 3/4's of Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.  Five justices have now invalidated part of the Texas Constitution in favor of their political agenda. 

We must not allow this ruling to be a slippery slope that impacts the religious freedom of Texans.  With that in mind, Mark co-sponsored the Pastor Protection Act (Senate Bill 2065) earlier this year. This bill, which was signed into law by Governor Abbott this summer, protects pastors and religious institutions from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies that contradict with their beliefs.  It also protects them from penalties or discrimination for refusing to officiate over or sanction same-sex weddings.

Mark was also co-author of House Bill 4105, which would have protected our county clerks and deputies from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.  

 

Education

The legislature made great strides this session towards increasing funding for education while increasing transparency and public school accountability, and improving early childhood development.

House Bill 1 provides $1.5 billion new dollars for public education.  This will ensure that our school districts can adequately handle an additional 80,000 new students expected to enroll in Texas schools over the next two years.  

House Bill 2804 instituted a new "A-F" system to rate individual schools.  The idea is to make schools more accountable for their performance and decrease the dependence on standardized tests.  This will provide for quicker and more effective action when a school continuously fails to live up to academic standards.

Mark stood against attempts to add common core curriculum into any piece of legislation.  This included, voting against Senate Bill 313, known as the common core lite bill.  SB 313 passed, but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Abbott.  Several other bills were passed addressing education this year, and each time Mark sponsored amendments that ensured no common core was allowed to creep into our classrooms. 

Protecting Life

Mark was a fierce fighter for life during the 84th Legislative Session.  Standing up for both pro-life and end-of-life legislation, Mark earned a "Pro-Life Champion" perfect score from Texas Right to Life.  He was not only a co-author of many pieces of legislation, but also sponsored amendments that protected life.  In light of recent news stories, there needs to be more work done to protect life and Mark will always be in support of pro-life legislation. 

 

2nd Amendment

During the 84th Legislative Session, Mark was the first to co-author House Bill 195, a landmark piece of legislation known as the "Constitutional Open Carry" bill.  He also co-authored House Bill 910, which also allows for the open carry of a firearm.  House Bill 910 was the only bill to gain traction this session and Mark was proud to be one of the Representatives fighting for our Second Amendment rights.   

Mark also introduced one of the most sweeping gun rights bills of the 84th Legislative Session, House Bill 805.  HB 805 would have allowed Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders the right to carry their licensed concealed firearm in any facility that is funded, or paid for, with Texas taxpayer dollars.  The legislation was left pending in committee, but Mark expects to reintroduce this legislation during the 85th Legislative Session in 2017.   

 

 



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