AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A Houston-based state senator’s legislation inspired by retired Judge William Sowder’s ruling on the Amarillo Civic Center Complex funding-related lawsuit in Potter County has passed the Texas Senate.
According to a news release from the office of State Sen. Paul Bettencourt R-Houston, SB 2035 passed the Texas Senate on Wednesday by a 20-10 vote. This comes after the bill was received by the Texas Senate on March 9, according to the Texas Senate’s webpage.
According to the bill, located on the Texas Senate’s webpage, SB 2035, if passed, would change the wording of Section 1431.002 and Section 1431.003 of the Texas Government Code, along with a portion of the Local Government Code. The change would be that a governing body, including local governments and other taxing entities in the state, would not be allowed to authorize anticipation notes, or certificates of obligation, to pay for a project if a bond proposition surrounding the project was voted down by residents within a five-year period.
“The City of Amarillo should never had gone behind their voter’s back to finance a project that their voters overwhelmingly voted down,” Bettencourt said. “It’s an appalling example of an Elected City Council and Mayor thwarting the will of the voters!”
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, Sowder ruled that the city of Amarillo could not use $260 million in anticipation notes to fund improvements and the expansion of the Amarillo Civic Center Complex, stating that the city violated portions of the Texas Government Code, the Texas Tax Code, and the Texas Open Meetings Act. This comes after Amarillo Businessman Alex Fairly filed a lawsuit against the city of Amarillo surrounding the legality of the notes. The ruling of the lawsuit is currently in the midst of an appeal in the Texas Seventh Court of Appeals.
“Senate Bill 2035 puts Texas on a path of long-term sustainable growth and restricts local entities from overriding the will of the voters,” State Sen. Kevin Sparks R-Midland said in the release, in support of the bill. “For those reasons, I was proud to vote for this bill.”
Fairly said both Bettencourt and Sparks have led the way in moving the legislation forward.
“I think the bill will make sure that this never happens again,” said Fairly on Friday. “And I think what happened was potentially a terrible thing for taxpayers, and they want to be sure it can’t happen to any taxpayer in Texas.
According to the Texas Senate’s website, SB 2035 was moved Thursday to the Texas House of Representatives.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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