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    Representative John Smithee was successful in passing legislation to increase the Homestead Exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, thus reducing property taxes for virtually every homeowner in the 86th District. Senate Bills 2 and 3, which will lead to a record $18 billion decrease in property taxes include $12 billion to reduce the school property tax rate for all homeowners and business properties. For an average homeowner, this means saving 41.5% or about $1,373 every year. Senate Bill 2 also reduced ISD M&O property tax rates by 23.8%, or an estimated $7 billion. Properties not used as homes, valued at $5 million or less, will get a 20% break on increases in appraised value for three years. Senate Bill 3, which will double the franchise tax exemption, means that about 67,000 Texas businesses won't have to pay this tax anymore. The bill also abolished a "nuisance tax", which will alleviate the burden of extraneous filing work and costs for nearly 1.7 million taxpayers. The legislation also created newly elected positions on local appraisal boards so that there is an elected voice in the process.
    Representative Smithee is leading the charge on border security in Texas. During the recent Special Session, John fought for and obtained an additional $1.54 billion to construct new state border wall in high-traffic areas with new construction beginning immediately and increase law enforcement overtime pay. John also supported the creation of state criminal penalties for illegal entry into Texas, criminal background checks, and the collection of fingerprints and photographs of those arrested for illegally crossing. Future violations now result in harsher penalties to help combat human trafficking and drug smuggling.
    Representative Smithee coauthored legislation that updated and strengthened Texas’ right to farm law to protect agricultural operations in Texas from unwarranted lawsuits and unnecessary, burdensome regulations. The changes protect agriculture and ensure Texans are able to continue to produce the food needed to sustain a growing Texas population.
    Legislation and a constitutional amendment supported by Representative Smithee and adopted by the voters have created a constitutionally dedicated water fund that will address aging water infrastructure and decreasing water supply. The bill directs the Texas Water Development Board to prioritize rural and small communities for funding. Representative Smithee also fought to protect our water rights so other cities could not come raid our limited water supply. Additionally, John assisted in the creation of the Oldham County Underground Water Conservation District
    Representative Smithee coauthored HB 2464 during the 88th Legislative session, which allowed cities, such as Amarillo, to opt back into cost-of-living increases for retired police officers and other city employees. John also joint authored and passed legislation allowing the city to give law enforcement/city employees cost of living increases. Additionally, John supported legislation to give more tools to law enforcement to crack down on human trafficking. Representative John Smithee also supported the establishment of the Rural Sheriff’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program to: √ Increase salaries for sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and jailers. √ Hire additional deputies or staff for the sheriff’s office. √ Purchase vehicles, firearms, and safety equipment for sheriffs offices. √ Provide grants to constables to increase their minimal annual salary. The bill also established the Rural Prosecutor’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program to increase the salaries of an assistant attorney, investigator, or a victim assistance coordinator, or to hire additional staff.
    Representative Smithee supported Investments totaling $322.4 million to strengthen safety, security, and infrastructure within the Department of Criminal Justice. The juvenile justice system will benefit from $385.5 million.
    Representative John Smithee passed legislation that increased court security and increased supplemental pay for county judges. Representative Smithee supported legislation that amended the Government Code to permit the county court at law in Randall County to sit in the county seat or at another location in the county as assigned by the local administrative statutory county court judge. The bill adds felony cases to the jurisdiction of the county court at law in Randall County, specifies the terms of this court, and provides that the county may not reduce the compensation paid to the judge of a county court at law during the judge’s term in office. The bill also provides that in matters of concurrent jurisdiction, the judge of a county court at law and the judges of the district courts in the county may exchange benches and courtrooms and may transfer cases between their dockets in the same manner that judges of district courts exchange benches and transfer cases.
    Representative Smithee supported an additional $45.1 million to bolster election integrity, business transactions, and filings at the Secretary of State. John also passed legislation establishing ethics training for elected officials through the Texas Ethics Commission.
    Representative John Smithee coauthored legislation banning Gender Modification surgeries on Texas children. Under the new statute, procedures and treatments for gender transitioning, gender reassignment, or gender dysphoria are prohibited. The use of public money or assistance for these procedures and treatments is banned.
    Representative Smithee supported a statute creating civil penalties for an individual who allows a sexually oriented performance to occur in front of a child and provides that the offender can also be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
    Representative Smithee coauthored and passed legislation to protect our children from inappropriate and offensive books in our schools. HB 900 regulates library materials sold to or included in public school libraries including requiring the development of school library standards that: √ Prohibit the possession, acquisition, and purchase of any harmful material or library material that is sexually explicit or pervasively vulgar or educationally unsuitable; √ Recognize that obscene content is not constitutionally protected; √ Recognize that parents are the primary decision makers regarding a student's access to library material and requires schools to communicate effectively with parents regarding collection development; √ Requires library material vendors to issue appropriate ratings related to sexually explicit material and sexually relevant material previously sold to a public school district or public school. √ Prohibits a library material vendor from selling any library materials to district or open‑enrollment charter school unless the vendor has issued the appropriate ratings. √ Requires the vendor to submit to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) an initial list of sexually explicit material and sexually relevant material in active use by a district or charter school and to submit annual updates to that list. √ Prohibits a vendor from selling library material rated as sexually explicit material and requires that vendor to issue a recall for all copies of such material in active use. √ Establishes reporting requirements regarding the library material reviewed and the district's or charter school's decision regarding the material.
    Representative John Smithee defended young girls' sports by coauthoring and passing a ban preventing biological males from competing in women's sports. This legislation requires college athletes to compete in athletic competitions based on their biological sex. These protections were provided to girls in grades K-12 during the third called Special Session in 2021. The bill allows women to compete on men’s teams for sports where there is not a corresponding female team offered. The Act also provides whistleblower protections for students who report violations.
    Representative John Smithee supported an allocation of $219.7 million to improve foster care rates, relative caregiver rates, and implement a new rate methodology. An additional $151.5 million was earmarked to expand community-based foster care. Representative Smithee also passed legislation modeled nationally to ensure that our most vulnerable Texans under conservatorship could not be taken advantage of financially or legally.
    John Smithee has always supported Texas teachers. Recently, he fought for and continues to fight for pay raises for both current and retired teachers. John supported earmarking $5 billion for a cost-of-living adjustment for retired educators and a supplemental payment to certain TRS retirees, which was later approved by the voters. John also supported $589 million being appropriated to keep healthcare costs in check for teachers. Additionally, Representative Smithee coauthored legislation providing increased safety measures for public schools and co-authored legislation creating more access to broadband so our rural and other underserved areas have internet access.
    Representative Smithee supported legislation establishing the Public Junior College State Finance Program, which would fund community colleges based on outcomes including how many students graduate with a degree or certificate or transfer to a four-year college or university. The change includes increased funding and targets workforce shortages and preparation. It also establishes aid for students to enroll in dual credit courses at no cost to them.
    As a proud WT alumnus, Representative Smithee has been instrumental in WT's success and upward trajectory since the day he was elected. With WT being located in Representative Smithee's district, he has been the legislative quarterback for the University, working with the other members of the Panhandle delegation. √ Representative Smithee has supported The Texas A&M University System investment of facilities being built on WT's campus, comprising the Charles W. "Doc" Graham '53 DVM, the Texas A&M University System Center—Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) building and program, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL), and the future new home of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. √ Representative Smithee has always been supportive of WT's legislative appropriation request. In addition to institution-specific requests, he has been instrumental in pushing for university funding, which is formula-driven. This past session's "Affordability" request provided $698.5 to universities (WT received $8.89m) and provides a two-year undergraduate tuition freeze. √ Representative Smithee was instrumental in working with the Texas Department of Transportation to transfer Russell Long Blvd to the City of Canyon so the speed limit could be lowered to enhance safety at WT. √ Representative Smithee has championed WT's student-athletes by recognizing their national accomplishments with legislative resolutions. √ Representative Smithee has strongly advocated WT with his recurrent involvement and participation in significant campus events. SPECIFIC BUDGET ITEMS √ Secured $1.3 million for the Electrical Engineering Program. √ Secured Initial funding of $4 million in 2019 with an additional $6 million in 2023 for Advancing Food Animal Production in the Panhandle. √ Secured $38.16 million for the Agricultural Sciences Building, which is now part of the Ag Science complex, one of the country's most renowned ag facility hubs. √ Secured $7.2 million for the WTAMU Amarillo Center.
    Representative John Smithee pass legislation to prohibit institutions of higher education from: √ Establishing or maintaining a DEI office. √ Hiring or assigning an employee or contracting with a third party to perform the duties of a DEI office. √ Compelling or soliciting any person to provide a DEI statement. √ Giving preference on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin to an applicant for an employee, an employee, or a participant in any function of the institution. √ Requiring any person to participate in DEI training as a condition of enrolling at the institution or performing any institution.
    Representative Smithee approved legislation providing $159 million in funding for a state mental health facility in Amarillo to provide services to individuals while relieving our jails. The project will likely break ground in the summer of 2024 and take about 48 months to build with the full opening being 4-5 years away. The facility will hold 75 beds and will ideally be located on 15-20 acres. It will employ roughly 250 people.
    Having chaired the esteemed Insurance Committee for 22 years, Representative John Smithee has made great strides to protect consumers including: √ Authoring legislation to ensure that no one has to pay for abortion coverage on their health insurance plan. √ Supporting legislation to require insurance companies to clearly publish the dollar amount of their required deductible so consumers know exactly what an insurance claim will cost them. √ Working to protect senior citizens and other life insurance policyholders from shady sales tactics and to create a time period where the customer can back out, no questions asked. √ Passing legislation banning clauses in insurance policies that were allowing insurance companies to decide what they would and would not cover regardless of what was in the contract. √ Passing legislation creating a Patient Bill of Rights in health insurance which became a national model. √ Passing a bill to prohibit insurance companies from dropping policyholders or changing their rates based on political expression. √ Supporting legislation to double the amount of notice an insurance company has to give you if they are going to cancel or not renew your policy to give consumers more time to shop for the best coverage for auto and homeowners insurance. √ Passing legislation prohibiting health plans from changing prescription benefit coverage in the middle of a plan year. √ Passing legislation to create financial stress testing for life insurance companies to help prevent another financial crisis like we experienced in 2008 with the mortgage crisis. √ Passing legislation regulating HMO’s and PPO’s. √ Passing bills protecting consumers from bad-acting insurance companies and ensure their rights are protected. √ Supporting legislation prohibiting health insurance plans from discriminating against individuals based off of genetic information. √ Passing bill to allow physical therapy and occupational therapy to be covered by insurance plans. √ Passing legislation to ensure that Medicaid and Medicare patients had access to care in our rural communities. √ Reining in insurance companies discriminating against property owners for previous water damage by supporting SB 127. √ Passing groundbreaking legislation that will allow a doctor and patient to see what their prescription costs will be under their health insurance plan during their appointment. Provides price transparency to the patient before they go to the pharmacy, saves the patient money when the doctor knows of an equivalent medication that costs less, and saves the doctor and patient time so they do not have to trade phone calls after the appointment. √ Passing significant legislation to lower the age that health insurance companies must cover colon cancer screenings and to permanently align the law with recommended health guidelines. √ Establishing the small employer health insurance program so that small businesses can band together to provide health insurance to their employees at a lower cost. √ Passing landmark “prompt pay” legislation requiring health insurance plans to pay claims in a timely manner. √ Passing legislation to give consumers rights to dispute surprise bills in emergencies. √ Ensuring that passengers who use rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are protected in case of an accident when using those services. √ Increasing the rights of consumers who deal with defective automobiles under the “Lemon Law”. √ Fighting for legislation to create fairness for patients battling surprise medical bills. √ Passing legislation to expand rights of current and retired teachers to dispute surprised billing of medical services. √ Passed legislation to end "drive by lawsuits" where unscrupulous lawyers sue groups of businesses under false accusations of violations to extract settlements.
    A budget of $80.8 billion is reserved for the Texas Medicaid Program. Representative Smithee supported sending: √ $178.2 million to rural hospitals. √ $71.8 million to boost the Early Childhood Intervention program. √ $9.4 billion for mental health funding across state government. √ $160.1 million to increase women's health programs.
    During the 3rd called Special Session, John Smithee supported passed legislation that prohibits a private employer from adopting or enforcing a vaccine mandate for its employees, contractors, or job applicants. The new law establishes a process for the impacted individual to file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission and requires the agency to assess a $50,000 penalty for each confirmed violation unless the employer takes corrective action. An additional bill prohibited a governmental entity from mandating that individuals wear a face mask or other covering, be vaccinated against COVID-19 It also prohibited the closure of private businesses or a public, open-enrollment charter, or private school related to potential spread of COVD-19.
    Representative Smithee and the legislature addressed the recent rise in district attorneys refusing to prosecute entire classes of crime by classifying this inaction as “official misconduct” and creating a mechanism for removing them from office. The bill also provides that public statements can be used in removal proceedings as a rebuttable presumption that the prosecuting attorney had committed official misconduct.
    To further combat the fentanyl crisis, Representative Smithee coauthored legislation to: √ Increase penalties and punishments for manufacturing or delivering fentanyl and other opioids; √ Classify deaths related to this activity as conduct that constitutes murder; √ Provide that unlawful possession with intent to deliver these substances as conduct that constitutes engaging in organized criminal activity. The bill also requires that a designation of fentanyl poisoning or toxicity be designated on a death certificate. In recent years, overdoses in the United States have seen an alarming increase due to the increased production and smuggling of fentanyl, an incredibly potent synthetic opioid. According to the CDC, in the 12-month period ending in November 2022, more than 75,000 Americans died from an overdose of synthetic opioids, mainly from fentanyl. In Texas, the Department of Public Safety has seized over 353 million lethal doses of fentanyl since the beginning of Operation Lone Star in March 2021, according to the governor's office.
    Representative Smithee coauthored and passed significant reforms to provide more and better access to telecommunication services in rural areas. With the recent approval by the voters, an earmarked fund of $1.5 billion will be invested in the development of broadband and the enhancement of 9-1-1 services. These funds are critical in meeting the needs of rural and underserved areas of Texas.
    With increased concerns about consumer privacy, Representative Smithee supported the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act that gives individuals and households access and control of their personal information. The bill gives consumers the rights to: √ Confirm if a controller is processing their personal information and requires that it be provided to the consumer; √ Allow inaccuracies in personal data to be corrected; √ Delete personal data that was obtained or that consumer provided about themselves; √ Obtain a copy of data that the consumer previously provided; √ Opt-out of the processing of their personal data for advertising, selling, or profiling. The bill also gives parents the ability to take these actions on behalf of their children.
    This session, John Smithee supported a state policy on the use of social media services and applications such as TikTok that pose potential security risks to the state by requiring all state agencies and political subdivisions to prohibit installation of certain social media applications that pose a potential security risk to the state on any device owned or leased by the governmental entity. An exception was made for times when installation is necessary for law enforcement or development of cybersecurity measures.
    When the Legislature was moving to an unregulated electricity market, Representative John Smithee worked to keep the Panhandle in a reliable electric grid with lower prices for customers.
    HB 1255 Clarifies that the same statute of limitations that applies to a suit in court also applies in arbitration. (Immediate Effect) SB 622 (HB 1754) Requires that patients and providers have access to costs of prescriptions at the point of prescribing as opposed to the point of sale. (Effective 9/1/2023) HB 1900 Requires property and casualty insurers to give at least 60 days notice to policyholders prior to canceling or not renewing a policy. Current law requires 30 days notice. (Effective 9/1/202) HB 1901 Removes the requirement that title audit reports be sent in by certified mail, opening the way for electronic submission. (Effective 9/1/2023) SB 1003 (HB 1902) Added additional providers to the health care provider directories a list which will help cut down on balance billing. Those providers are: physical therapists, surgical assistants, occupational therapists, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiology assistants, nurse midwives, speech-language pathologists. The bill also allows the commissioner to add additional specialties by rule down the line as needed. (Effective 9/1/2023) HB 1903 Modifies the capital stock requirements for insurance companies as it relates to filing a charter or charter amendment. Because the law is different from state to state, it only applied to Texas-domiciled companies. The change takes away a regulatory burden but has no impact on consumers. (Effective 9/1/2023) HB 2126 (SB 1649) Omnibus trusts bill. (Immediate Effect) SB 869 (HB 2246) Omnibus bill relating to suits effecting the parent-child relationship including the payment and enforcement of child support. Aligns state law with federal law. (Effective on 9/1/2023) SB 870 (HB 2247) Omnibus bill relating to Title IV-D child support. Aligns state law and federal law mostly. (Effective on 9/1/2023) SB 1425 (HB 2771) Legislation to continue a critical program for reporting and disbursement of Universal Service Funds for high need areas served by small and rural incumbent telephone providers. (Immediate Effect) SB 1373 (HB 2821) Omnibus bill relating to decedents’ estates. (Effective 9/1/2023) HB 2839 (No companion) Creates the framework to allow the Texas Department of Insurance to perform liquidity stress tests for large life insurance companies to help prevent a crisis in the financial markets as was seen in 2008. (Effective 9/1/2023) SB 1342 (HB 3119) Bill relating to third-party health insurance in Medicaid to align state law with federal requirements. (Effective 9/1/2023) SB 1650 (HB 3562) Omnibus bill relating to durable powers of attorney. (Effective 9/1/2023) HB 4510 Changes the dates audit reports are due to the Comptroller from November 20 to November 1 to help address the 72% turnover rate at the agency. (Effective 9/1/2024) SB 1809 (HB 2711) Hotel occupancy tax for Armstrong County requested by Armstrong County Commissioners Court. (Immediate Effect)

Most politicians just talk about lowering taxes, securing the border, and protecting our values, but Representative John Smithee works hard and gets the job done!

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