State Representative Mike Schofield, R–Katy, has filed two bills that look to assist homeowners’ rights. The first, HB 1705 would freeze property taxes for homeowners 65 years of age and …
State Representative Mike Schofield, R–Katy, has filed two bills that look to assist homeowners’ rights. The first, HB 1705 would freeze property taxes for homeowners 65 years of age and older. He has also filed HB 1659 which would allow homeowners to place religious displays anywhere on their properties, in spite of prevalent homeowners associations’ rules.
"No one has a right to tell you that you cannot worship at your own home," Rep. Schofield said. "Preventing someone from having a religious symbol on their own lawn is an infringement on freedom that is positively un-Texan, and it must stop."
1st Amendment protections
Schofield said some HOAs have misinterpreted a law which prevents them from removing religious displays from residents’ front doors to give them the authority to remove displays from other parts of the property, such as the front lawn. HB 1569 clarifies that homeowners can have religious displays anywhere on their property, ensuring easy access to their First Amendment right to freedom of religion and speech.
Katy residents who received letters from their HOAs demanding the removal of crosses displayed in their lawns at Easter had requested Schofield file his bill.
Schofield represents House District 132 which includes the Katy area and portions of Cy-Fair.
Senator Paul Bettencourt, R–Houston, has filed Senate Bill 581 as a companion bill in the Texas Senate to support Schofield’s filing.
"The HOA does not own your property and should not be in the business of placing overly burdensome restrictions on the free exercise of your religion,” Bettencourt said.
Property tax protections
Schofield also filed HB 1705 which is set to freeze all property taxes for homeowners over the age of 65. The bill is set up to prevent increases in property taxes so long as they own their homes.
"Texas is a great place to work and raise a family, but it needs to be a better place to retire," Schofield said.
When a homeowner turns 65, the portion of their property taxes sent to school districts is frozen while the rest of the property taxes continue to rise. His new bill is intended to freeze the entirety of the homeowner’s property taxes including city, county and special district taxes, Schofield explained via press release. With those protections in place, seniors – who often have limited incomes – will be able to predict their property tax bills more consistently.
Many municipalities already have various tax exemptions in place for seniors who are homeowners and readers are encouraged to reach out to the municipalities on their tax bills to investigate those exemptions.
Still, many Texas seniors do have trouble paying tax bills and Schofield said he would like to help them remain in their homes.
"Older Texans tell me all the time that rising property taxes are forcing them to consider moving out of state. It is not the government's job to tax you out of your home,” Schofield said.
Schofield was elected to his old seat representing House District 132 in November after a one-term hiatus in which Democrat Gina Calanni held the seat.
Schofield has selected Pam Johnson to serve as his chief of staff, Annie Callegari as his district director and legislative aide and Emily Knaub as his legislative director. Callegari is the granddaughter of former Texas State Representative Bill Callegari who represented Texas’ 132nd House District.
Correction: Bill Callegari represented Texas' 132nd House District. This correction has been appended above.