Texas House bills 2 and 3, the school refinance bill and the budget bill “gave us all 49 cents (per $100 of assessed property value) relief on property taxes,” said Texas Sate Representative Rick Hardcastle, who represents District 68 and serves as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

“We did not have to fight to keep agriculture exemptions or evaluations,” Hardcastle said.

He anticipates legislators to hear bills with agricultural ramifications within the next few weeks. “We've had nothing up for a vote yet,” he said. “But we'll begin hearing ag-related bills and likely will see some action on them after the Easter break.”

He expects to see bills on water use when the session reconvenes. “We don't have anything reported on water yet,” he said, “but we will begin to hear more now that we have the school and budget bill out.

“We're also looking at an animal identification program. Work is in progress on that bill to make certain we meet federal guidelines and get the Animal Health Commission set up to handle animal ID.

“We're just beginning to hear ag bills in committees. So far, we've been up to our necks in school finance and budget legislation.”

Hardcastle said rural areas are not completely satisfied with the school finance plan and he wants to find ways to assure that rural communities have adequate funding for school systems. He said funding for vocational education remains a sticking point.

“The school system is the most important thing in rural Texas,” he said.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com