in Houston, Texas
Euphemistic words like 'fee' and 'surcharge' would be scrapped for 'tax' under state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond's plan
Monday, Dec 06, 2010, 11:20AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

If the vice-chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee has his way, colleages might try to raise the Oyster Sales Fee, Battery Sales Fee or the Sexually-Oriented Business Fee, but they are going to have to call it a tax increase.

Bugged for years by bills that included taxation euphemisms like fee and surcharge, Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, says he intends to ask the legislature to support a state constitutional amendment that would require all laws generating revenue for the state to call that generation what it is.

Richard Pena RaymondRAYMOND

Such a change would require two-thirds support in a formal vote in the House and the Senate followed by majority support by the public in a vote in November 2011. Raymond told Texas Watchdog this morning he is so concerned about the issue he has asked if the public referendum might be pushed up to September.

"My bill doesn't say you can't raise taxes. It just says you call them what they really are," Raymond said. "What we have heard from the voters is that the public wants us to be straight with them. We need to begin to restore some trust in our government."


See Raymond's full statement here.

With the possibility of a state revenue shortfall of as much as $25 billion because of the economic downturn, Raymond says he has concerns that legislators have increasing pressure to find ways to raise money without using the T Word.


Raymond's amendment would require the legislator who would like to boost the $1 fee on every 300-pound barrel of oysters harvested from Texas waters to call that fee and that increase a tax. Any increase in the $5 that businesses providing nude entertainment pay for each customer visit would be called a tax. As would the boost (pardon the pun) to the $3 fee for the sales and storage of 12-volt car batteries.


Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or

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Photos by flickr user OhioProgressive, used via a Creative Commons license, and Texas House of Representatives website.

Monday, 12/06/2010 - 09:33PM

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