Rep. Erin Zwiener files six more pieces of legislation: Alternative writing assessments, dark skies, nature-based infrastructure, and others
Driftwood, TX — On Thursday, Representative Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) filed six more pieces of legislation, House Bills 2342, 2344, 2345, 2350, 2422, and 2433 continuing her work to advocate for House District 45. These bills offer alternative writing assessments for Texas students, create an incentive for nature-based infrastructure projects, allow Texas homeowners to pay their property taxes quarterly instead of annually, create a hotel occupancy for Blanco County, expand the number of communities eligible to use their hotel occupancy tax revenue for dark skies programs, and gives high-growth counties more control over the siting of rock quarries and other aggregate production operations. Rep. Zwiener has now filed 25 pieces of legislation during the 87th Legislative Session.
“When I taught writing, I saw firsthand how a single standardized writing exam can cause students to lose their confidence and retreat as writers,” said Rep. Zwiener. “When testing works against its fundamental goals to help students succeed, we must provide alternatives that both offer a better measure of a student’s growth and avoid stunting their learning. That’s what HB 2344 does by offering a portfolio assessment method instead of a standardized test.”
HB 2342: Quarterly Payments for Property Taxes. This legislation would allow homeowners to make quarterly payments of their property taxes in equal installments without incurring interest or penalties. This would provide much-needed relief for homeowners who have experienced financial hardship and can’t afford the lump-sum annual payment. Individuals 65 and older and disabled veterans are currently eligible to pay property taxes using these quarterly payments without penalty, and this bill expands the program to all Texas homeowners.
HB 2344: Writing Portfolios. This legislation would allow school districts to implement a writing portfolio to fulfill the writing component of required state reading assessments. Standardized writing assessments grade students based on a formula, and teaching this formula to students often leads them to become less creative and more uncertain in their writing abilities. Writing portfolios grade students on their body of work and provide a more thorough reflection of their skills.
HB 2345: Blanco County Hotel Occupancy Tax. This legislation would allow Blanco County to collect up to 7% in hotel occupancy taxes in areas that currently do not have a municipal hotel occupancy tax. This would equalize tax rates between unincorporated areas of the county and the City of Blanco and Johnson City, both of which currently have a hotel occupancy tax, and provide Blanco County with a revenue source for promoting tourism.
HB 2350: Nature-Based Infrastructure. This legislation would incentivize nature-based infrastructure projects through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Communities seeking loans for wastewater system upgrades can access extra funds for projects such as rain gardens, wetlands, and other projects that create permeable surfaces, allowing rainwater to percolate into aquifers rather than running off surfaces. The nature-based infrastructure project would be funded through a decrease in the interest rate on the overall project. Although nature-based infrastructure can help reduce the impact of flooding and increase groundwater supply, it has not been widely adopted throughout the state.
HB 2422: Siting Authority for Aggregate Production Operations (APOs). This legislation would give county commissioners in fast growing counties the authority to regulate the location of new quarries and other incoming aggregate production operations. Many counties, such as Hays, struggle with rapid development, which leads to many APOs setting up their business near existing homes and planned developments. These operations include activities such as rock crushing and blasting that create noise and air quality concerns for nearby communities as well as heavy vehicle traffic on residential roads. In these fast growing areas, county commissioners need more authority over siting these high-impact operations.
HB 2433: Dark Skies Hotel Occupancy Tax. This legislation would build upon previous legislation that Rep. Zwiener previously passed by allowing all municipalities in Hays and Blanco counties with a hotel occupancy tax already in place to devote funds towards the preservation of dark skies. Night sky tourism is important for many communities in HD 45, and its preservation is critical for continued tourism.
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