by Ed Sterling
AUSTIN • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 1 filed a lawsuit against the federal government to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia joined Paxton in the lawsuit.
Paxton and the other attorneys general urged the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare DACA unlawful and to stop the federal government from issuing or renewing any DACA permits in the future.
Paxton noted the suit does not ask the federal government to remove any alien currently covered by DACA, nor does it ask the Trump administration to rescind DACA permits that have already been issued.
“Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy,” Paxton said. “Texas has argued for years that the federal executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization. Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change our nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own policy preferences.”
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia on April 24 ordered the Trump administration to accept DACA applications, but stayed the order for 90 days to give the Department of Homeland Security an opportunity to make its arguments contesting the legality of the DACA program.
Revenue totals higher
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on May 2 announced that state sales tax revenue totaled $2.7 billion in April.
The amount is 13.4 percent more than reported in April 2017.
April state sales tax collections grew significantly across all major economic sectors, Hegar said. “While the strongest growth was in remittances from oil and gas-related sectors, tax receipts from retail trade and restaurants also grew briskly,” Hegar added.
Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in April 2018 was up 9.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Sales tax revenue is the largest source of state funding for the state budget, accounting for 58 percent of all tax collections. Revenue from other major taxes on motor vehicle sales and rentals, motor fuel and oil and natural gas production also rose in April 2018.
Amnesty program starts
Comptroller Hegar on April 30 reminded Texans about the temporary tax amnesty program giving certain delinquent taxpayers a chance to make their accounts compliant with state tax law without incurring penalties and interest on tax due.
The Texas Tax Amnesty Program began May 1 and runs until June 29. The program applies to periods prior to Jan. 1, 2018, and only includes liabilities that have not been previously reported to the Comptroller.
Passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017, Senate Bill 1 requires the Comptroller of Public Accounts to establish a tax amnesty program to encourage voluntary reporting by:
• Delinquent taxpayers who do not have a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit or are not registered for a tax or fee administered by the Comptroller’s office; and
• Taxpayers who have a permit but may have underreported or owe additional taxes or fees.
Engineers list projects
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on May 1 released an initial list of projects to address high-priority needs in states recently impacted by natural disasters, including several in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
According to the Corps of Engineers, an allocation of some $360 million will be used to address 32 projects in 12 states. The funding is included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in February.
“As Texas continues on the road to recovery, our shipping channels and bayous are among the highest priorities for investment and repair,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “These projects and improvements will address concerns in a number of local communities affected by Harvey and help combat future flood events. I thank the Army Corps of Engineers for their commitment to these initial projects and look forward to expanding upon this list as Texas continues to recover and rebuild.”
Among plans on the list of Texas repair projects are:
• Buffalo Bayou and tributaries;
• Corpus Christi Ship Channel;
• Galveston Harbor and Channel;
• Gulf Intracoastal Waterway;
• Houston Ship Channel;
• Matagorda Ship Channel;
• Sabine Neches Waterway; and
• Wallisville Lake.