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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In response to the Texas Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Neeley v. West Orange Cove, in which the court held that Texas’ public school finance system constituted an unconstitutional state property tax, the 79th Legislature enacted H.B. 1, which the governor signed into law on May 31, 2005. Among other things, H.B. 1 attempted to shift some of the burden of funding Texas’ public schools from local property taxpayers to the state and, to that end, made additional appropriations of $3.825 billion for the biennium ending on Aug. 31, 2007. In June 2005, Ed Hendee, individually and as executive director of a group called Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes (collectively, plaintiffs), filed suit against Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, several other state officials and the state of Texas, seeking declarations that H.B. 1 was unconstitutional and unlawful. The plaintiffs’ central allegation was that the appropriation called for in H.B. 1 caused the defendants to exceed the aggregate biennial cap on the rate of growth of appropriations under Texas Constitution Art. VIII, �22, and Texas Government Code �316.001. Those provisions mandate that the “rate of growth of appropriations from state tax revenues” not dedicated by the constitution not exceed the “estimated rate of growth of the state’s economy.” All defendants except the comptroller filed a plea to the jurisdiction. The district court granted the plea without specifying its grounds and dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against the defendants for want of jurisdiction. Plaintiffs brought an interlocutory appeal from the district court’s order. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. The court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ claim alleging unconstitutional delegation of legislative powers for want of jurisdiction. The court found that no such delegation occurred. Rather, the only delegation of legislative power was merely an assignment of duties within the legislative branch akin to each chamber’s referral of bills to committees prior to consideration before the entire chamber. The court, however, held that to the extent that plaintiffs’ remaining two claims sought declarations that future expenditures under H.B.1′s appropriation were unconstitutional or illegal, the district court erred or abused its discretion in dismissing those claims based on the record before it. Specifically, the court agreed with the plaintiffs that Art. VIII, �22, was self-executing to the extent of prohibiting legislative action inconsistent with its provisions, and that plaintiffs’ claims of violations did not present nonjusticiable political questions. Thus, the court reversed those portions of the district court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings to determine if the defendants violated Art. VIII, �22. Additionally, the court held that while plaintiffs failed to sufficiently plead the associational standing of CLOUT, plaintiffs could amend their pleadings to address that defect. OPINION:Pemberton, J.; Pemberton and Waldrop, J.J. CONCURRENCE:Patterson, J. “The only issue ripe for decision is the district court’s dismissal of the claim alleging unconstitutional delegation of legislative powers, and I join in this Court’s affirmance of that issue. I otherwise concur only in reversing and remanding this cause to the district court.”

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