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A bill that would make it easier for TexAmericas Center to attract new businesses to the region has been passed by the Texas Legislature.

Senate Bill 579, sponsored by local Sen. Bryan Hughes, awaits Gov. Greg Abbott's signature to become law.

The bill would exempt businesses that lease TexAmericas land from paying property taxes. The measure is meant to make TexAmericas competitive with most other redevelopment authorities in the state, which already offer the tax exemption because they operate under different laws.

The entities that assess property taxes in the TexAmericas footprint—Bowie County, Texarkana College, and the New Boston, Hooks, Leary, Redwater and Maud school districts—would not go unpaid. TexAmericas leases would require an annual payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, less than assessed property tax, which TexAmericas would distribute to the appropriate taxing entities.

That means in effect, the new legislation would allow TexAmericas to offer a property tax discount to businesses that lease there.

TexAmericas CEO Scott Norton declined to comment pending Abbott's final action on the bill. Abbott's press office did not respond to an inquiry as to whether he plans to sign the bill.

On April 17, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of SB579. On Wednesday, the House followed with a vote of 128 to 17 in favor of the bill, with two members not voting.

Formed in 1997, TexAmericas was one of the first redevelopment authorities created by Texas statute and tasked with replacing economic activity that had been lost when military bases shrunk or closed. It controls property once part of Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant and Red River Army Depot in Bowie County.

A different statute in 1999 created most other redevelopment authorities in the state, allowing them the property tax exemption TexAmericas now seeks. TexAmericas has compensated by asking taxing entities for abatements, which the proposed bill would make automatic, simplifying the process.

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