American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) reports:
Sacramento, CA-- The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) elected its 2023-24 officer team during its annual Leadership Summit, June 10-14 in Sacramento, CA.
The members of the new officer team, beginning official duties on July 1, are:
• Chair: David Armstrong, Sakata Seed America
• First Vice Chair: Dan Foor, DLF North America
• Second Vice Chair: Dave Treinen, Syngenta
In his acceptance remarks, incoming Chair Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of Sakata America Holding Company, Inc., discussed his vision for the association in the coming year.
"ASTA is in tremendous shape, thanks to strong member engagement, capable Board leadership, and dynamic staff," said Armstrong. "Over the coming year, I look forward to building on ASTA's strong foundation through the continued execution of its core strategic pillars."
"Another" wrap-up of the Texas (Regular) Legislative Session and Update on the Special
As you know, the Texas Legislature is in "Special Session" called by Governor Abbott to address property tax reform. Over a week ago, at the beginning of the "special" the Texas House met, quickly, passed a version of tax reform the Governor favored, and adjourned sine die fro the remainder of the 30-day Special Session. The Texas Senate met, and passed a version of property tax reform this week, that differs from the House version.
This is from the Texas Tribune: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick defiantly refused to exclude a homestead exemption from the Senate’s property tax cut plan Tuesday — even though the House adjourned a week ago after rejecting the provision. The protracted impasse on property tax relief means the odds grow dimmer every day that the Senate will send legislation to the governor’s desk by the end of the special session later this month.
“This fight’s over,” Patrick, a Republican who presides over the GOP-dominated Senate, told reporters in a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday. “That’s a negotiation that we are not backing down from, ever, in the Senate.”
His comments came hours after a Senate committee signaled that it would reject a Texas House bill targeting human smuggling that passed a week ago, which could effectively kill that bill, too. Property taxes and immigration are the sole topics Gov. Greg Abbott wants lawmakers to tackle during the current special session.
Patrick spoke amid escalating tensions with House Speaker Dade Phelan and Abbott in the second week of the special session, triggered by differences on how to dole out $12.3 billion in new money set aside for property tax cuts in the upcoming two-year state budget.
Abbott wants a plan that spreads the entire tax cut among all property owners in Texas, including businesses, and does not include a homestead exemption. He outlined such a plan in his requirements for any property tax bill that lawmakers send to his desk during the special session.
In spite of those instructions, the Senate unanimously passed its own plan last week that spreads 70% of the money among all property owners, then puts the rest of it toward a bump in the homestead exemption, which would lower the amount of a home’s value that can be taxed to pay for public schools and cut homeowners’ tax bills. The current homestead exemption on school taxes is $40,000. Patrick wants to raise it to $100,000.
Both plans would save landowners money on property taxes. The Senate plan offers more relief to people who own their primary residence than the House plan does. The House helps businesses and higher-income property owners more than the Senate plan does. It’s unclear how renters would benefit from either proposal — if at all.
Time is more of an issue with the Senate plan. Homestead exemptions are protected by the Texas Constitution, so their proposal would need to go to voters in November for it to become law for the next tax year — and therefore it needs to be passed with enough time to get it onto the ballot, Patrick said.
“There’s a time limit,” he said. “We have to get this done.” Rather than stick around to negotiate, however, the House passed bills that mirrored Abbott’s instructions last Tuesday — and then adjourned and went home for the rest of the 30-day session.
Because the House needs to be in session to approve any changes the Senate makes to their bills, that left the Senate with the choice of either passing the House bills untouched or adjourning and going home themselves — which would almost certainly trigger a second special session.
Although Texas has a reputation as a low-tax state, Texans’ property tax bills are the sixth-highest in the country, according to the conservative Tax Foundation.
Speaking at a bill signing Tuesday afternoon, Abbott again called on the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass his preferred property tax plan.
The governor declined to answer whether he would accept a compromise with the Senate that includes some form of increased homestead exemption, but said he would keep legislators in Austin for as long as necessary to strike a deal.
“I’ll call special session after special session after special session until a solution is reached,” Abbott said.
The refusal of the Senate to rubber stamp the bills described by Abbott and passed by the House jeopardizes both pieces of legislation because the House has to be in session to approve any changes to their bills. Our thanks to Karen Brooks Harper and Uriel J. García of the Texas Tribune!
So there we are. When the Lt. Governor makes a statement about "not budging" most feel that's a fact not a threat. In addition there's no House in Session right now to deal with or talk to. Looks awfully like another special is coming our way.
Something interesting has happened to several bills arriving on the Governor's desk as well. Governor Abbott has vetoed more bills than is his custom and has added commentary to several vetoes stating they are "good bills" and he'll be happy to reconsider them if they should pass, again, during a special AFTER property tax relief is addressed to his satisfaction. It's difficult not to see the implication of some bills, "good bills," being held hostage to appropriate property tax reform being sent to the Governor's desk - first. And the Lt. Governor seems to be holding the House's human trafficking bill as a bargaining chip as well. Stay tuned; it could be a long, if intermittent, summer in Austin for Texas Legislators.
On another note about results of the regular session - Most state agencies, particularly those we deal with, received most of their budget requests with regard to funding for specific projects and initiatives. The Texas Department of Agriculture received funding for a "long list" of items they've needed for some time including upgrades to information technology, fleet vehicles, and additional infrastructure deficiencies they've had to made do with for quite a while. A budget surplus floats all boats and we're happy TDA is getting some sorely needed resources.
The Texas Soil & Water Conservation Board received sufficient money to do some studies they've needed as well. The TSSWCB gets asked a lot of questions, including queries by the legislature, that have been, at times, difficult to answer. When funding is for a given project and no one has a definite idea of how big that project is, or the scope and scale of the projects are subject to change, it's hard to provide answers to questions like "how much more of the project remains to be done?" Studies are useful!
Additionally we encourage TSTA members to support HGR 126 which is a proposed Texas Constitutional Amendment which will appear on ballots this fall. Commonly termed "the right to farm" it is reprinted below. We don't yet know what ballot position it will have (there are a number of proposed amendments to consider this fall) but we'll pass that along as soon as it is determined.
A JOINT RESOLUTION proposing a constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 36 to read as follows: Sec. 36.
(a) The people have the right to engage in generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, horticulture, or wildlife management practices on real property they own or lease.
(b) This section does not affect the authority of the legislature to authorize by general law the regulation of generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, horticulture, or wildlife management practices by:
(1) a state agency or political subdivision when there is clear and convincing evidence that the law or regulation is necessary to protect the public health and safety from imminent danger;
(2) a state agency to prevent a danger to animal health or crop production; or
(3) a state agency or political subdivision to preserve or conserve the natural resources of this state under Section 59, Article XVI, of this constitution.
(c) This section does not affect the authority of the legislature to authorize by general law the use or acquisition of property for a public use, including the development of the natural resources of this state under Section 59, Article XVI, of this constitution.
SECTION 2. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 7, 2023. The ballot shall be printed to provide for voting for or against the proposition: "The constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management."