The 86th Texas Legislature is now in full swing, and the final deadline for bill submission has just passed. Every proposal that will pass through lawmaker’s hands this session is on the table until the session ends on May 27th, 2019. Of the thousands of bills submitted, subject matter ranges widely—from public policy, to healthcare, to education, to minimum wage standards. Of these bills, many affect the workplace, and could significantly impact both Texas business owners and their employees.
As a watchful business owner, it is essential to stay informed and keep an eye on the proposed legislation, so that you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way. Not all of these proposed bills will become law, but some have gained significant traction among lawmakers and, if passed, will see implementation in the future.
Here are some of the bills small business owners should watch:
In the midst of negative tax news nationwide, a more positive note: Senate Bill 66 proposes to reduce and eventually eliminate franchise tax for Texas businesses and partnerships. This tax has been increased in recent years to fund public schools, but this bill by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, aims to decrease this tax in a win for Texas taxpayers.
Paid Sick Leave
House Bill 222, by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, aims to prohibit Texas cities from implementing any regulations that require employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees. This would make major waves in Central Texas in particular, as Austin and San Antonio both just passed an ordinance that required private sector employers to provide paid sick leave. The Austin ordinance was blocked by appellate court in October 2018, and now Texas lawmakers will have the opportunity to consider a statewide ban on such ordinances.
Small Business Preference
House Bill 212 is a move in favor of small businesses. If this bill is passed, any state agency that enters a contract for the purchase of goods or services less than $500,000 will be required to give preference to the goods or services offered by a small business, as defined by the regulations of the United States Small Business Administration in 13 C.F.R. Section 121.201. This could result in serious gains for small business owners across the state.
Protection for Child-Run Lemonade Stands
House Bill 234 is a popular one that has garnered a lot of media attention recently. This bill would make it safe for children to run a lemonade stand in their front yards and protect them from any other ordinances or repercussions. If your kids are on private property and the beverage is non-alcoholic, this bill protects them from any naysayers. (Fun fact: until this point, front yard stands selling homemade lemonade have actually been explicitly illegal in the state of Texas due to health concerns under the Texas Food Establishment Rules.) With this bill under consideration, however, there’s hope for young entrepreneurs statewide.
Concerned about the status or outcome of any of these bills? Check the status of any bill at the Texas Legislature’s official website. From here, you can track legislation, view votes, contact your legislator, and even set up alerts if a bill’s status changes. The 86th Texas Legislature website has a full list of bills filed.