City-Related Bills Filed
H.B. 1459 (Gooden) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide a property tax exemption for real property that is leased to an organization that meets the requirements of a charitable organization under the Tax Code if: (1) the real property is used by the organization primarily for the purpose of performing certain specific charitable functions; (2) the rental for the real property on an annual basis is not more than five percent of the property’s market value; and (3) the real property is reasonably necessary for the operation of the organization. (Please see H.J.R. 90, below.)
H.B. 1478 (Eiland) – Appraisal Districts: would allow junior college districts to participate in the vote to appoint members to the board of directors of an appraisal district. (Companion bill is S.B. 359 by Hinojosa.)
H.B. 1597 (N. Gonzalez) – Property Tax Delinquency: would: (1) require the transferee of a property tax lien to deliver notice to the property owner regarding the possibility that the taxing unit may offer an installment agreement for payment of delinquent property taxes; (2) require the tax collector for a taxing unit to enter into an installment agreement for the payment of property taxes, penalties, and interest on a residence homestead if requested by a person who is delinquent in the payment of property taxes and who has not entered into an installment agreement with the taxing unit in the previous 24 months; (3) require the installment agreement to provide for installment payments in equal amounts and a period of at least 12 months; (4) provide that a delinquency penalty does not accrue on the unpaid balance of property taxes during the period of the agreement if the property is a residence homestead; (4) require a notice of delinquency sent by a taxing unit to contain specific language regarding the ability to enter into an installment agreement; and (5) provide that a debtor is not in default under a deed of trust or other contract lien on real property used as the debtor’s residence for the delinquent payment of property taxes if the debtor is in substantial compliance with an installment agreement and has given notice of the installment agreement to the mortgage servicer. (Companion bill is S.B. 476 by Hinojosa.)
H.B. 1612 (Workman) – Property Tax Liens: would provide that a property tax lien is inferior to the claim of any creditor that is the holder of a purchase money security interest on personal property encumbered to a property tax lien only to the extent of the amount of taxes, and of any penalties or interest on those taxes, that would have been imposed on the personal property had the property been taxed separately on the date the tax lien attached. (Companion bill is S.B. 586 by Hegar.)
H.B. 1693 (Farrar) – Property Tax Deferral: would entitle an individual to defer property tax collection or abate a suit to collect a delinquent tax imposed upon the individual’s small business property that is located on a rail line.
H.B. 1712 (Lozano) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide a property tax exemption for all or part of real and personal property that a person owns or leases and that is used, constructed, acquired, stored, or installed primarily as part of an offshore spill response containment system.
H.B. 1729 (Ashby) – Property Tax: would: (1) provide that an award of attorney’s fees to a property owner in a judicial appeal of a property tax determination may not exceed the lesser of $100,000 or the total amount by which the property owner’s tax liability is reduced as a result of the appeal; and (2) provide that an award of attorney’s fees in an appeal filed in a county with a population of 50,000 or less to an appraisal district, an appraisal review board, or chief appraiser that prevails may not exceed $15,000.
H.B. 1736 (Anchia) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide a property tax exemption for all real and personal property owned or leased by a person that is used as part or in connection with a renewable natural gas facility that converts landfill generated methane into renewable natural gas.
H.B. 1820 (Kacal) – Property Tax Payments: would allow an individual who is a disabled veteran to make installment payments of property taxes due on the individual’s residence homestead.
H.J.R. 90 (Gooden) – Property Tax Exemption: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide a property tax exemption for real property that is leased to an organization that qualifies as a charitable organization and that is used by the organization primarily for the purpose of performing a charitable function. (Please see H.B. 1459, above.)
S.B. 656 (Paxton) – Budget and Tax Rate Adoption: would: (1) require the city council’s vote to adopt a budget to be a record vote; (2) require an adopted budget that requires raising more revenue from property taxes than the previous year’s budget to contain a cover page that includes: (a) a specific statement on the property tax revenue increase and amount due to new property added to the tax roll; (b) the record vote of each member of the governing body by name voting on the adoption of the budget, the ratification of the property tax increase (if the vote has been taken) and the setting of the property tax rate (if the vote has been taken); (c) the city property tax rates for the preceding and current fiscal years, including the adopted rate, effective tax rate, effective maintenance and operations tax rate, rollback tax rate, and debt rate; and (d) the total amount of bonds and other debt obligations owed by the city; (3) require a city with a website to post the cover page in (2), above, on the city’s website, and keep the record vote information on the city’s website for at least one year after the budget is adopted; (4) require the city council to amend a cover page to include the record vote of each member of the governing body by name following a vote on the ratification of the property tax increase and setting of the property tax rate, if the information is not included on the cover page; and (5) require a record vote on the ordinance adopting the tax rate, even if the adopted tax rate does not exceed the effective tax rate.
S.B. 657 (Paxton) – Tax Rate Adoption: would require a record vote on the ordinance adopting the property tax rate, even if the adopted tax rate does not exceed the effective tax rate.
H.B. 1466 (Hughes) – Sales Tax Sourcing: would provide that, if a retailer has more than one place of business in the state, the consummation of a sale of a taxable item does not take place where the retailer first receives the order if: (1) the taxable item is shipped or delivered from a warehouse that: (a) is located in a city with a population of 5,000 or less; (b) is a place of business of the retailer; (c) the retailer entered into an economic development agreement with the municipality or an economic development corporation prior to January 1, 2009; and (d) the municipality provided information relating to the economic development agreement to the comptroller as provided by state law; and (2) the place of business of the retailer at which the retailer first receives the order is a retail outlet that is served by the warehouse.
H.B. 1511 (Larson) – Local Sales Tax Rate: would: (1) allow a city to hold an election to impose a dedicated sales and use tax for sports and venue districts, crime control and prevention districts, economic development corporations, property tax relief, or street maintenance at any rate that the city determines is appropriate that would not result in a combined rate that exceeded the maximum local sales and use tax rate of two percent; (2) allow a city to hold an election to impose its general sales and use tax at any rate that the city determines is appropriate that would not result in a combined rate that exceeded the maximum local sales and use tax rate of two percent; and (3) extend from four years to eight years the expiration date on the dedicated sales and use tax for street maintenance.
H.B. 1533 (Leach) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt a firearm or hunting supplies from sales and use taxes if the sale takes place during a period beginning at 12:01 a.m. on March 2 and ending at midnight on the same day.
H.B. 1623 (N. Gonzalez) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt from sales and use taxes the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property used or consumed in qualified research or services if the property or services are sold, leased or rented to, or stored, used, or consumed by, a qualifying biotechnology start-up engaged in qualified research.
H.B. 1630 (Murphy) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt from sales and use taxes certain tangible personal property that is sold, leased, or rented to a qualifying data center or qualifying data center tenant beginning on the date a data center or tenant of a data center meets the necessary qualifications and ending on the tenth anniversary of that date. (Companion bill is S.B. 730 by Deuell.)
H.B. 1660 (Thompson) – Tax Collection and Reporting: would provide that local sales taxes are considered delinquent if: (1) a person fails to correctly collect and remit to the comptroller all or part of its sales tax to a city or other local governmental entity in which the sale was consummated; and (2) a person who has collected all or part of a sales tax reports to the comptroller in error that all or part of that tax relates to a sale that occurred in a city or other local governmental entity that is not the city or entity in which the sale was consummated as determined by state sales tax sourcing law.
S.B. 730 (Deuell) – Sales Tax Exemption: this bill is the same as H.B. 1630, above.
S.B. 784 (Hinojosa) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt the sale of an emergency preparation item from sales and use taxes if the sale takes place during a period beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the Saturday before the last Monday in April and ending at midnight on the last Monday in April.
S.J.R. 35 (Patrick) – Sales Tax Limitation: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that the legislature may not enact a general law that would impose a new, prospective state tax on the sale or use of any food, drink, or medicine. (Companion resolution is H.J.R. 74 by Raymond.)
S.B. 740 (Rodriguez) – Workers’ Compensation: would: (1) require construction contractors and subcontractors to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for each of their employees; (2) require a contractor to provide certification of coverage of its and any subcontractor’s employees to the governmental entity; and (3) provide that, if the contractor enters into a contract with a governmental entity for a public project, the coverage must be satisfactory to the governing body of the governmental entity. (Companion bill is H.B. 475 by Walle.)
H.B. 1518 (J. Sheffield) – Polling Place: would, among other things, provide that if a political subdivision is required to use countywide polling places and the political subdivision holds a joint election, the governing body of the political subdivision may designate as the polling places for any required runoff election only the polling places located in the territory or in and near the territory of the political subdivision where eligible voters reside.
H.B. 1560 (Klick) – Elections: would provide that a person commits a class A misdemeanor if the person: (1) compensates another person based on the number of voters assisted by that person; (2) presents another person with a quota of voters to be assisted; (3) engages in another practice that causes another person’s compensation from or employment status with the person to be dependent on the number of voters assisted; or (4) accepts compensation for (1), (2), or (3), above.
H.B 1564 (Miller) – Elections: would increase the penalty for theft of an official ballot or official carrier envelope for an election from a state jail felony to a felony of the third degree. (Companion bill is S.B. 554 by Campbell.)
H.B. 1635 (Johnson) – Voting Clerks: would allow: (1) a school district to adopt a policy excusing a student from attending school for service as a student early voting clerk in an election; (2) the early voting clerk to appoint not more than four student early voting clerks at an early voting polling place; and (3) the secretary of state to initiate or assist in the development of a statewide program promoting the use of student early voting clerks. (Companion bill is S.B. 553 by Uresti.)
H.B. 1636 (Johnson) – Elections: would remove the requirement that an interpreter be a registered voter of the county in which the voter resides. (Companion bill is S.B. 722 by Ellis.)
S.B. 722 (Ellis) – Elections: this bill is the same H.B. 1636, above.
H.B. 1632 (Fletcher) – Identifying Information of Peace Officer: would provide that information that relates to the date of birth of peace officers and certain other law enforcement officers may not be disclosed to the public under the Public Information Act if the officer notifies the governmental body that the officer chooses to restrict public access to the information.
H.B. 1749 (Perry) – Meetings by Videoconference: would: (1) provide that a meeting of a state governmental body or a governmental body that extends into three or more counties may be held by videoconference call only if the member of the governmental body presiding over the meeting is physically present at one location of the meeting that is open to the public during the open portions of the meeting; (2) require that the notice of a meeting described in (1), above, specify the location where the member of the governmental body presiding over the meeting will be physically present; and (3) require that the location where the member of the governmental body presiding over the meeting is physically present as described in (1), above, and each remote location from which a member of the governmental body participates have two-way communication with each other location during the entire meeting.
H.J.R 94 (Burnam) – U.S. Constitution: would amend the Texas Constitution to require the legislature petition to the United States Congress to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America as soon as two-thirds of the several states have applied for the convention
OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS
H.B. 1449 (Kuempel) – Dog and Cat Dealers: would: (1) prohibit a person from acting as or offering to act as a person who sells or offers to sell, at retail to the public for use as pets, not fewer than 21 dogs or cats in a calendar year (a “dealer”) without holding a license issued by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR); (2) require that TDLR issue a license to a dealer who meets applicable requirements (after an inspection), applies on the required form, and pays the required fee; (3) impose numerous requirements on a license holder; (4) prohibit a county or city from adopting local legislation that conflicts with the dealer requirements above; (5) provide that the dealer requirements are not intended to affect the authority of a county or city to enforce local legislation generally applicable to all businesses that relates to the right, health, or safety of consumers; (6) require the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) to administer the requirements and establish rules regarding applicable fee amounts; (7) require TDLR to: (a) maintain a public database of dealers who have been subject to disciplinary action; (b) prepare information of consumer interest related to dealers, including the procedure by which a consumer may make a complaint about a dealer; and (c) inspect, at least once in every 12-month period, the facility of a licensed dealer; (8) authorize TDLR to enter into an agreement with a county or city to conduct dealer inspections; (9) require a person inspecting a dealer be trained in detecting signs of animal cruelty and neglect; (10) authorize TDLR to enter into an agreement with a county or city to perform the dealer licensing and inspection duties of TDLR; (11) require that any agreement described in (10), above, provide that the county or city provide information to TDLR regarding each license issued, include provisions requiring the Commission to monitor the administration of the agreement, and authorize TDLR to resume administration on the termination of the agreement; and (12) provide that under an agreement described in (10), above, the county or city is entitled to retain any fees collected for an inspection or issuance or renewal of a license, unless the agreement provides otherwise.
H.B. 1487 (Harper-Brown) – State Grant Expenditures: would require the comptroller’s searchable state expenditure database to include information that would allow a person to ascertain the specific purposes for which state grant money was used.
H.B. 1493 (King) – Texas Department of Rural Affairs: would, among other things, transfer the programs of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs to the Department of Agriculture.
H.B. 1556 (Villarreal) – Taxes: would: (1) require a select commission on periodic tax preference review to identify all state and local “tax preferences” and present a review schedule to the Legislative Budget Board every odd-numbered year under which each tax preference is reviewed once during each ten-year period; (2) require the Legislative Budget Board to evaluate all state and local tax preferences and make recommendations for continuing, repealing, or amending each preference; and (3) provide that each tax preference enacted by the legislature that becomes law after September 1, 2014, expires ten years after the date it takes effect, unless the legislature provides an earlier or later expiration date. (Please see H.J.R. 92, below.)
H.B. 1609 (Hughes) – State Budget: would, among other things: (1) limit the rate of growth of state appropriations in a biennium from all available sources of revenue except the federal government to not exceed the average biennial rate of growth of the state’s population during the previous three state fiscal bienniums adjusted by the average biennial rate of monetary inflation over the same period; (2) allow the comptroller to determine the state sales tax rate imposed on each sale of taxable items in this state; and (3) require the comptroller to reduce the state sales tax period for a two-calendar-year period if the comptroller determines that the amount of undedicated, unencumbered anticipated revenue is sufficient to permit the reduction of the rate by at least one-tenth of one percent. (Please see H.J.R. 93, below.)
H.B. 1622 (Stickland) – Alcoholic Beverage Permits: would, notwithstanding any other provision of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, authorize the issuance of a wine and beer retailer’s permit, a retail dealer’s on-premise license, and a retail detailer’s on-premise late hours license in an area in which the voters have approved each of the following ballot issues in a local election: (1) the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only; and (2) the legal sale of mixed beverages.
H.B. 1652 (Miles) – Community Gardens: would: (1) limit the liability of an owner, lessee, or occupant of land that allows the land to be used as a community garden except in regard to an injury caused by willful or wanton acts or gross negligence by the owner, lessee, or occupant; and (2) require that an owner, lessee, or occupant of land that allows the land to be used as a community garden post and maintain a sign containing certain specified warning language.
H.B. 1676 (Price) – Texas Board of Professional Engineers: this is the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE) Sunset bill. Of particular interest to cities, the bill would continue the functions of the TBPE until 2025 and would provide that, if it appears to the TBPE that a person who is not licensed, certified, or registered as an engineer is violating the engineering law, a rule adopted under the law, or another state statute or rule relating to the practice of engineering, the TBPE, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, may issue a cease and desist order prohibiting the person from engaging in the activity. (Companion bill is S.B. 204 by Nichols.)
H.B. 1691 (Capriglione) – Conflicts Disclosure: would require a local government officer to file a conflicts disclosure statement for a gift of food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment accepted, as a guest, by the officer or a family member of the officer.
H.B. 1715 (Pickett) – Payday Lending: would provide that a payday or motor vehicle title lender may not renew or roll over an extension of consumer credit more than four times.
H.B. 1717 (Price) – Texas Board of Architectural Examiners: this is the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) Sunset bill, which would continue the functions of the TBAE until 2025. (Companion bill is S.B. 205 by Nichols.)
H.B. 1724 (Bohac) – Hotel Occupancy Taxes: would: (1) limit the amount of interest on delinquent hotel occupancy taxes to the prime interest rate plus one percent; and (2) would require a city to bring suit not later than the fourth anniversary of the date the hotel occupancy tax becomes due.
H.B. 1734 (Gutierrez) – Type A City Special Meetings: would provide that a mayor in a type A general law city must call a special meeting on the application of three aldermen. (Note: Current law makes it the mayor’s option.)
H.B. 1779 (Schaefer) – Barbering and Cosmetology: would: (1) abolish state regulation of barbering and cosmetology; and (2) authorize a local health department or local health authority of a county or city to: (a) inspect an establishment providing barbering or cosmetology services to the public within the jurisdiction of the county or city; and (b) close, by order, an establishment providing barbering or cosmetology services to the public within the jurisdiction of the county or city if the establishment does not keep the establishment in a sanitary condition.
H.B. 1794 (Pitts) – City Debt: would: (1) require a political subdivision’s ballot proposition for a bond to include a significant amount of information, including: (a) the total amount and per capita amount of: (i) the principal of all outstanding debt; (ii) the combined principal and interest required to pay all outstanding debt; (iii) the principal of the bonds to be authorized; and (iv) the estimated combined principal and interest required to pay the bonds to be authorized; (b) the purpose for which the bonds are to be authorized; (c) the estimated rate of interest for the bonds to be authorized; and (d) the maturity date of the bonds to be authorized; and (2) require a political subdivision issuing a bond to post a sample ballot on its website as soon as practicable after the ballot is prepared.
H.B. 1805 (Pitts) – City Debt: would, among other things: (1) provide that the attorney general may not approve a local security until the attorney general receives written notification from the Bond Review Board that the board has received information on the local security from the issuing governmental body or has agreed to a later date of submission of the information; (2) require the state bond finance office to publish an annual report on local securities; (3) require an issuer of a local security to annually provide information that the state bond finance office considers necessary for the preparation of any report; (4) require every political subdivision to prepare an annual financial report that contains financial information for each city fund, as well as a significant amount of information relating to the city’s debt obligations; and (5) require a city to maintain an Internet website on which to post the annual financial report continuously along with the city’s relevant contact information.
H.B. 1809 (Lucio) – Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporations: would: (1) allow a cultural education facilities finance corporation to exercise its authority inside or outside the limits of the city that created the corporation, regardless of the population of the county in which the city is located; and (2) would amend the definition of “cultural facility” to include real property, including buildings and improvements, or equipment, furnishings, or other personal property to be used by the state or a county, city, or other governmental entity.
H.B. 1812 (Lucio) – Major Events Trust Fund: would add the Ultimate Fighting Championship to the list of events for which the major events trust fund may be used.
H.J.R. 89 (Harless) – Dedicated State Fee Diversions: would amend the Texas Constitution to, in increments beginning in 2015 and completed in 2018, prohibit the comptroller from using dedicated revenues to certify the state budget. (Companion resolution is S.J.R. 26 by Estes.)
H.J.R. 92 (Villarreal) – Taxes: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) require the legislature to implement the necessary procedures for the periodic review of state and local “tax preferences;” and (2) provide that each tax preference enacted by the legislature that becomes law after September 1, 2014 expires ten years after the date it takes effect, unless the legislature provides an earlier or later expiration date. (Please see H.B. 1556, above.)
H.J.R. 93 (Hughes) – State Budget: would amend the Texas Constitution to limit the rate of growth of appropriations from all sources of revenue except the federal government and authorize the legislature to appropriate money for tax relief or tax rebates. (Please see H.B. 1609, above.)
S.B. 204 (Nichols) – Texas Board of Professional Engineers: this bill is the same as H.B. 1676, above.
S.B. 205 (Nichols) – Texas Board of Architectural Examiners: this bill is the same as H.B. 1717, above.
S.B. 754 (Patrick) – Government Lobbyists: would: (1) require a person registering as a lobbyist to indicate on his/her registration, if applicable, whether the person who reimburses, retains, or employs the registrant is a governmental entity or an entity that reimburses, retains, or employs the registrant on behalf of a governmental entity and the name of the governmental entity on whose behalf the registrant is reimbursed, retained, or employed; (2) require that compensation or reimbursement required to be reported by a person registering as a lobbyist be reported as an exact amount if the registrant is reimbursed, retained, or employed by a governmental entity or by another entity on behalf of a governmental entity; and (3) provide that the reimbursement, retention, or employment of a registrant by an attorney to communicate directly with a member of the legislative or executive branch to influence legislation or administrative action on behalf of a governmental entity is not the provision of legal representation subject to attorney-client privilege and must be disclosed as required by law.
S.B. 761 (Lucio) – Medical Laboratories: would provide for the licensing and regulation of medical laboratory professionals, including providing for penalties and imposing fees. (Note: Any city that operates a crime lab should review the provisions of this bill carefully.)
S.B. 764 (Watson) – Prescribed Burning: would provide that an owner, lessee, or occupant of agricultural land is not liable for property damage or for injury or death to persons caused by or resulting from prescribed burning conducted on the land if the burning is conducted under the supervision of a certified and insured prescribed burn manager and the owner, lessee, or occupant is a governmental unit that has a self-insurance program for a certain amount of coverage.
S.B. 765 (Watson) – Major Events Trust Fund: would: (1) establish an event oversight committee consisting of the comptroller, state auditor, and one representative with significant experience in auditing procedures or fiscal matters relevant to an event from each endorsing county or city for the event; (2) provide that the event oversight committee has authority over determining the amounts of incremental increase in tax receipts related to the event if the members of the committee unanimously agree on the amounts; and (3) provide that, if an obligation is incurred under an event support contract to make a structural improvement to the site or add a fixture to the site for purposes of an event and the improvement or fixture is expected to derive most of its value in subsequent uses of the site for future events, a disbursement from the major events trust fund made for purposes of that obligation is limited to five percent of the cost of the improvement or fixture.
S.B. 770 (Uresti) – Naming of Public Property: would prohibit the naming of public property after a former elected official before the fifth anniversary of the date the former elected official last held elective office.
S.B. 789 (Hinojosa) – Gambling: would: (1) authorize the operation of video lottery games by licensed horse and greyhound racetrack operators; (2) provide for a defense for the operation of video lotteries by Indian tribes; (2) prohibit a city from imposing a tax or fee for attendance or admission to a video gaming premises unless specifically authorized by statute; and (3) create certain misdemeanor offenses for video gaming by individuals young than 21 years of age. (Please see S.J.R. 36, below.)
S.B. 799 (Van de Putte) – Gambling: would: (1) provide for the operation of video gaming by authorized organizations and commercial operators that are licensed to conduct bingo or lease bingo premises; (2) prohibit a city from imposing a tax or fee for attendance or admission to a video gaming premises unless specifically authorized by statute; (3) allow a video gaming retailer to conduct video gaming at a premises other than the licensed bingo premises if the city in which the premises is located holds an election in which a majority of the voters favor prohibiting bingo and the other premises are located in a jurisdiction in which a majority of the voters voting in an election held before January 1, 2013, voted in favor of legalizing bingo games; (4) authorize law enforcement personnel to be present at a retailer’s video gaming premises at any time and authorize municipal peace officers to enter and inspect the premises where video gaming is conducted or video gaming equipment is found; and (5) create certain misdemeanor offenses for video gaming by individuals young than 21 years of age. (Please see S.J.R. 37, below.)
S.J.R. 36 (Hinojosa) – Gambling: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) authorize the operating of video lottery games in certain circumstances; and (2) provide that federally recognized Indian tribes are not prohibited from conducting gaming on certain Indian lands. (Please see S.B. 798, above.)
S.J.R. 37 (Van de Putte) – Gambling: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) authorize the operating of video gaming by persons and organizations licensed to conduct bingo or lease bingo premises; (2) limit video gaming operations to gaming operations in certain locations, including incorporated cities and towns, that have held elections in which the conduct of bingo games in the jurisdiction was approved by the voters; and (3) provide that federally recognized Indian tribes are not prohibited from conducting gaming on certain Indian lands. (Please see S.B. 799, above.)
H.B. 1559 (Klick) – Jury Lists: would repeal the provision in current law that limits the purposes for which a list of noncitizens excused or disqualified from jury service may be used.
H.B. 1540 (Pitts) – Theft: would add “electronic payment” to the hot check statute.
H.B. 1625 (McClendon) – Criminal Discovery: would: (1) require the state’s prosecutor, on request, to disclose certain information to the defendant’s counsel and to permit inspection of material in possession of the state; (2) impose a continuing duty to disclose on the prosecutor; and (3) require the state’s prosecutor to file a certificate of compliance with the court stating the attorney has disclosed and made available all items subject to discovery.
H.B. 1656 (Eiland) – Court Costs: would require the clerk of a municipal court to collect an emergency medical air transportation surcharge of $5 on conviction of a moving violation.
S.B. 790 (Rodriguez) – Dismissals: would require a municipal court judge to assess an administrative penalty of $20 when dismissing complaints for the certain offenses related to auto registration and similar matters.
S.B. 821 (Schwertner) – Theft: this bill is the same as H.B. 1540, above.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
H.B. 20 (Kolkhorst) – Eminent Domain: would provide, in relation to the later repurchase of property acquired through eminent domain, that: (1) an entity with eminent domain authority that makes a bona fide offer to acquire property must state with specificity in the initial and final offers the public use for which the entity intends to acquire the property; (2) an entity with eminent domain authority shall disclose in writing to the property owner, at the time of acquisition of the property through eminent domain, including an acquisition through a purchase made by the entity in connection with an initial offer that, in addition to other things, that the initial use of the property is not the public use for which the property was acquired; (3) actual progress towards completion of a project no longer includes: (a) the acquisition of a tract or parcel of real property adjacent to the property for the same public use project for which the owner's property was acquired; or (b) for a governmental entity other than a port authority or navigation district, the adoption by a majority of the entity’s governing body at a public hearing of a development plan for a public use project that indicates that the entity will not complete more than one action towards completion before the 10th anniversary of the date of acquisition of the property; (4) not later than the 180th day after the date an entity that acquired a real property interest through eminent domain determines that the former property owner is entitled to repurchase the property, the entity shall send by certified mail to the property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns a notice containing, among other things, a note that the initial use of the property was not the public use for which the property was acquired; and (5) after the first anniversary of the date on which real property was acquired by an entity through eminent domain, a property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns may annually request that the entity make a determination and provide a statement and other relevant information regarding, among other things, whether the initial use of the property was the public use for which the property was acquired.
H.B. 1477 (Callegari) – Disannexation: would provide that if a city fails or refuses to disannex an area pursuant to a petition alleging failure to provide services, a district court shall enter an order disannexing the area if the court finds that a valid petition was filed with the city and that the city failed to perform its obligations in accordance with the service plan or the state law governing provision of services. (Note: This bill would overturn a Supreme Court of Texas decision in favor of the City of Bryan.)
H.B. 1496 (Taylor) – Regulatory Takings/Oil and Gas: would make a city regulation that imposes or enforces a limitation that has the effect of preventing or prohibiting the development of an oil or gas well that has been permitted by the Texas Railroad Commission subject to the Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act, which would: (1) waive sovereign immunity to suit and liability for a regulatory taking; (2) authorize a private real property owner to bring suit to determine whether the governmental action of a city results in a taking; (3) require a city to prepare a “takings impact assessment” prior to imposing certain regulations; and (4) require a city to post 30-day’s notice of the adoption of most regulations prior to adoption.
H.B. 1522 (Guillen) – Energy Audits: would: (1) create a state regulatory scheme relating to residential energy audits to be administered by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR); and (2) provide that a person may not perform an energy efficiency analysis, assessment, or audit or produce an energy efficiency report on a residential structure unless the person is registered with TDLR. (Companion bill is S.B. 617 by Carona.)
H.B. 1553 (Rodriguez) – Platting: would lower the population bracket in current law to allow the replatting of a subdivision without vacating the preceding plat in a city of 1.3 million or more. (Companion bill is S.B. 773 by Uresti.)
H.B. 1554 (J. Rodriguez) – Floodplain Management: would: (1) authorize a city to abate a violation of a floodplain management ordinance by doing the work necessary to bring real property into compliance with the ordinance if the owner of the property fails to comply with the ordinance after the city gives the owner reasonable notice and opportunity to comply; (2) authorize a city to assess costs and interest related to the abatement described in (1), above, and obtain a lien against the property; (3) provide that the lien described in (2), above, is privileged and subordinate only to tax liens and liens for street improvements; (4) provide that the lien described in (2), above, may be perfected by filing written notice of the lien with the county clerk of the county in which the property is located; and (5) require that notice of the lien in (2), above, must be in recordable form and state the name of the property owner(s), if known, the legal description of the property, and the amount due.
H.B. 1650 (Raymond) – Colonias: would, among other things: (1) require the secretary of state’s classification system that allows the secretary of state to track and report on the progress of state-funded projects in providing water or wastewater services, paved roads, and other assistance to colonias to include a method for a city or county to nominate an area for identification as a colonia; (2) provide that a utility may not serve or connect any residential structure in the unincorporated area of the county with permanent water, sewer, electricity, gas, or other utility service unless the utility receives a certificate issued by the commissioners court certifying that the residential structure complies with all county regulations applicable to the structure; and (3) provide that, before an application for colonia funding through the Texas Water Development Board may be considered by the board for a project in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city, the applicant must demonstrate that the state’s model subdivision rules have been adopted and are enforced in the extraterritorial jurisdiction by the city or the county.
H.B. 1706 (Farrar) – Breastfeeding: would: (1) prohibit a person, including a city, from interfering or restricting the right of a mother to breast-feed any place the mother has a right to be; and (2) create a civil cause of action, including injunctive relief and compensatory damages, if an individual violates this section.
H.B. 1744 (Elkins) – Technology Centers: would allow a local government, including a city, to request a contract with a state technology center under which the center provides the city with technological services or operations.
H.B. 1795 (Isaac) – Sale of Real Property: would: (1) authorize a home-rule city to contract with a broker to sell a tract of real property owned by the city and pay the broker a fee if he/she produces a ready, willing, and able buyer to purchase the property; (2) provide that if a contract is made as described in (1), above, to list a property for sale for at least 30 days with a multiple-listing service (MLS), the governing body on or after the 30th day after the date the property is listed may sell the property to a ready, willing, and able buyer who is produced by any broker using the MLS and submits the highest cash offer; and (3) allow the governing body to sell a tract of property as described in (2), above, without complying with the public auction or notice and bidding requirements prescribed by law.
H.B. 1798 (Goldman) – Emergency Services Districts: would: (1) require an emergency services district to receive the written consent of a city council if it seeks to expand the district to include territory in a city’s limits or its extraterritorial jurisdiction; (2) provide that if the city council does not consent to the expansion within 60 days, a majority of the qualified voters and owners of at least 50 percent of the territory in the city limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction that would have been included in the district may petition the city council to make fire control and emergency medical and ambulance services available in the territory; (3) provide that if a city council refuses or fails to act on a petition under (2), above, the refusal or inaction serves as consent for the territory that is subject of the petition to be included in the district; (4) require an emergency services district to receive the written consent of a city council if it seeks to expand the district to include territory designated an industrial district by a city; (5) provide that if a city council consents to the expansion of a district into its city limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction, then the expansion may take place in the same manner as other territory under state law; (6) provide that a city council’s consent to expansion of a district expires six months after the date consent is given; and (7) provide that this bill does not apply if a district proposes to expand in the unincorporated area of a county with a population of 3.3 million or more.
S.B. 659 (West) – Housing Assistance Programs: would provide that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs shall adopt a policy providing for the debarment of a person from participation in programs administered by the department if certain conditions are met.
S.B. 672 (Carona) – Industrialized Housing and Buildings: would provide that, notwithstanding any other law, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation may not perform an inspection or investigation, open a complaint, initiate an administrative or enforcement action, or impose a penalty against a manufacturer, builder, or third-party inspector of industrialized housing after the first anniversary of the date of the final on-site inspection of the industrialized housing. (Companion bill is H.B. 578 by Geren.)
S.B. 773 (Uresti) – Platting: this bill is the same as H.B. 1553, above.
S.B. 802 (Davis) – Foundation Repair Contractors: would provide: (1) for state regulation of foundation repair contractors; (2) that the bill does not affect a person’s obligation to comply with a local regulation establishing a permit, inspection, or approval process in connection with foundation repair work; (3) that the standard for the practice of foundation repair work or foundation repair contracting in a local political subdivision is the standard established by local regulation if the standard is not less stringent than the standard imposed by the bill; (4) that a person who holds a license issued under the bill is not required to hold a license issued by a local political subdivision or take an examination required by a local regulation to engage in foundation repair work or foundation repair contracting; and (5) that a person who obtains a foundation repair company license shall provide notice to, and pay a fee if required by, a local political subdivision if required to perform work in the local political subdivision.
H.B. 1468 (Sheets) – Workers’ Compensation: would: (1) make communications between an employer and the insurance carrier in workers’ compensation cases confidential under certain circumstances; and (2) exempt these communications from release under the Public Information Act.
H.B. 1524 (Anderson) – Unions: would change the meaning of “exclusive bargaining representative” under the Labor Code to include only the group who has been selected by secret ballot/ (Note: A case currently pending at the Supreme Court of Texas, City of Round Rock v. Rodriguez, has yet to determine whether this chapter of the Labor Code applies to cities.) (Companion bill is S.B. 674 by Seliger.)
H.B. 1531 (K. King) – Emergency Medical Services Personnel/Concealed Handguns: would provide that emergency services personnel engaged in providing emergency services in a county with a population of 50,000 or less may carry a concealed handgun while on duty.
H.B. 1574 (McClendon) – Workforce Report: would require the Texas Workforce Commission to create a report regarding the types of employment available in the state, including non-exempt, exempt, part-time, full-time, and others, and how these types affect public assistance programs in Texas.
H.B. 1577 (V. Taylor) – Retirement: would: (1) make an individual ineligible for their public retirement annuity if: (a) they are convicted of a felony or class A or B misdemeanor related to the performance of their public service; and (b) a judge makes a finding that they are ineligible; (2) prohibit a conviction from affecting the annuity of an alternate payee; (3) require the governing body of a public retirement system to create rules to implement the bill’s requirements; and (4) make the system resume full payments if an individual is later determined not guilty or innocent of the crime that lead to the ineligibility.
H.B. 1697 (Farrar) – Termination of Public Safety Employees: would: (1) prohibit a city from terminating a peace officer or firefighter because the individual could not perform their job because of an on-the-job injury before they have reached maximum medical improvement; (2) give an employee a cause of action for damages and reinstatement if this policy is violated; and (3) put the burden of proof on the employee. (Companion bill is H.B. 1430 by Fletcher.)
H.B. 1725 (Bohac) – Police Termination Reports: would: (1) repeal the penalty associated with a police chief’s failure to change a termination report category of discharge after a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) appeal; and (2) require TCLEOSE to modify the category of discharge stated if an administrative law judge holds that the discharge category on the termination report was incorrect.
H.B. 1762 (Price) – Workers’ Compensation: would: (1) allow a temporary employment agency’s certificate of workers’ compensation coverage to constitute proof of insurance coverage for the agency and the client, including a city; and (2) require a city to accept such a certificate as proof of required coverage.
H.B. 1804 (Callegari) – Retirement Benefits: would authorize a city to: (1) establish a Roth IRA program for its employees; and (2) develop procedures to allow retirement plan vendors to lend money to a participating employee. (Companion bill is S.B. 366 by Taylor.)
S.B. 674 (Seliger) – Unions: this bill is the same as H.B. 1524, above.
S.B. 676 (Carona) – Unemployment Benefits: would: (1) require an employer to properly classify construction workers as either employees or independent contractors; (2) provide an administrative penalty for misclassification of employees; and (3) require the Texas Workforce Commission to notify a city or other governmental entity of non-compliant employers.
S.B. 738 (Watson) – Foreign Workers: would establish the Texas Essential Workers Program, which would: (1) authorize employers in certain industries that are understaffed to apply for visas for foreign workers; (2) provide a process for foreign workers to work legally in the United States for certain approved employers; and (3) require such employers to provide benefits to their foreign workers, including housing, food, certain wages, workers compensation insurance, and other benefits.
S.B. 766 (Hegar) – Volunteer Fire Fighters: would prohibit a city or the state from requiring volunteer fire fighters to be licensed or certificated.
H.B. 1497 (Taylor) – Public Safety: would require the Department of Public Safety to release all information related to a driver’s license to law enforcement personnel for governmental purposes.
H.B. 1502 (Raymond) – Tasers: would: (1) make it a class A misdemeanor to tase an individual under 18 years of age for disciplinary purposes; and (2) provide for a law enforcement affirmative defense and other defenses to prosecution.
H.B. 1510 (Larson) – Animal Shelters: would make animal shelters “caretakers of animals” for purposes of veterinary care, which would give animal shelter employees additional authority to make decisions regarding an animal’s veterinary care.
H.B. 1515 (McClendon) – Citations: would: (1) provide for the transfer of powers and duties related to driver’s licenses and personal identifications from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV); and (2) require that certain citations issued for operating a motor vehicle in violation of the liability insurance requirement make reference to the DMV rather than DPS.
H.B. 1520 (D. Bonnen) – Emergency Training Liability: would extend immunity from liability to individuals who: (1) are volunteer fire fighters who are engaged in training activities; and (2) private individuals who are engaged in training exercises related to assisting in hazardous situations.
H.B. 1542 (Flynn) – Texas Military: would, among many other things: (1) provide that the Texas Military Department is the state’s department for Texas military affairs; and (2) repeal the provision giving a city or county the authority to call up the state military forces in an emergency situation if the governor may not be reached.
H.B. 1608 (Hughes) – Search Warrants: would: (1) allow a search warrant to be issued by a district judge for the search and seizure of information concerning the location of a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device that is wholly or partly generated by or derived from the operation of the device; (2) authorize a prosecutor or peace officer to request to seal an application and order for the warrant described in (1), above; (3) require that issuance of a warrant for location information provided by the preinstalled mobile tracking features of a cellular phone or wireless device be on the application of certain peace officers; (4) authorize certain peace officers to monitor a wireless communication device without a warrant if the device is reported stolen or there exists an immediate life-threatening situation; (5) authorize the chief of certain law enforcement agencies to apply to for a warrant to compel the production of business records disclosing location information about communication common carrier or electronic communication services customers or users; and (6) require certain publicly-available reports regarding warrants and orders described above, including information about the amount a law enforcement agency is billed by a communication common carrier or electronic communications service and the name of the law enforcement agency or prosecutor that submits an application for a warrant or order. (Companion bill is S.B. 786 by Hinojosa.)
H.B. 1658 (King) – DWI: would require an officer to arrest a person and take a specimen of the person’s breath or blood if the officer has probable cause to arrest the person and the person was the operator of a motor vehicle or a watercraft involved in an accident that resulted in bodily injury to another individual.
H.B. 1667 (Carter) – Release on Bond: would: (1) deny a defendant charged with burglary a second release on personal bond pending trial if the defendant violated a condition of bond when previously released on a personal bond; (2) require a defendant charged with burglary, and who has been previously convicted two or more times of burglary, to submit to electronic monitoring by a global positioning monitoring system as a condition of bond.
H.B. 1670 (Carter) – Synthetic Hallucinogens: would add a synthetic hallucinogenic substance (commonly known as 25I) to Penalty Group 2 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. (Companion bill is S.B. 264 by Huffman.)
H.B. 1671 (Carter) – Synthetic Derivative of Marihuana: would designate certain additional synthetic cannabinoids as controlled substances and controlled substance analogues under the Texas Controlled Substances Act. (Companion bill is S.B. 263 by Huffman.)
H.B. 1677 (Frullo) – Missing, Abducted, and Exploited Children: would: (1) provide that the missing children and missing persons information clearinghouse: (a) receive and maintain information on attempted child abductions in Texas; (b) provide for the exchange of information regarding attempted child abductions between the clearinghouse and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or other similar national nonprofit; and (c) provide information regarding attempted child abductions to local law enforcement agencies to assist in locating or identifying other missing children; (2) require that, in entering information regarding a report of a missing child into the national crime information center missing person file, a local law enforcement agency indicate in the entry that the missing child is in danger if: (a) the child had been reported missing on four or more occasions in the 24-month period preceding the date of the current report; or (b) the child is in foster care or in conservatorship and had been reported missing on two or more occasions in the 24-month period preceding the date of the current report; (3) require a local law enforcement agency to immediately, but not later than two hours after receiving a report of an attempted child abduction, provide any relevant information to the clearinghouse and the center or other similar nonprofit; (4) require each law enforcement agency to provide to the clearinghouse any information regarding an attempted child abduction that the agency has jurisdiction to investigate; (5) require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to adopt a rule providing that an officer first licensed by the commission on or after January 1, 2015, must complete a one-time education and training program on missing or exploited children; and (6) require that an officer receiving the intermediate or advanced proficiency certificate issued by the commission on or after January 1, 2015, complete the education and training program on missing or exploited children described in (5), above. (Companion bill is S.B. 742 by Carona.)
H.B. 1690 (Fletcher) – Communicable Diseases: would grant: (1) a peace officer the authority to use reasonable force to restrain and hold certain individuals with communicable diseases to prevent the spread of communicable disease; (2) a judge or magistrate the authority to order an emergency services provider to transport an individual with a communicable disease to a hospital.
H.B. 1713 (Lozano) – Felony Forfeiture: would require the sale proceeds of property seized by a police officer during the investigation of a smuggling persons, evading arrest, or trafficking persons offense to be deposited in a fund in the treasury of the county in which the offense occurred.
H.B. 1743 (Johnson) – Drug Possession: would create a defense to prosecution for drug possession crimes, if the individual: (1) requested emergency medical assistance in response to the possible controlled substance overdose of another person, (2) was the first person to make a request for medical assistance, (3) remained on the scene until the medical assistance arrived, and (4) cooperated with medical assistance and law enforcement personnel.
H.B. 1813 (Lucio) – Fireworks: would prohibit a city from confiscating packaged, unopened fireworks.
H.B. 1816 (Cortez) – Officer Safety: would require a person operating a motor vehicle who is directed to bring the motor vehicle to a stop by a police officer at nighttime to illuminate an interior light installed in the motor vehicle immediately after stopping the vehicle.
H.B. 1738 (Naishtat) – Detention of Persons with Mental Illness: would: (1) require a peace officer to provide a “notification of detention” to a facility to which the peace officer transports a person to be included in the person’s clinical file; (2) require the notification of detention to be in a specific form and include, among other things: (a) that the peace officer has reason to believe the person evidences mental illness; (b) that the peace officer believes the person evidences a substantial risk of serious harm to himself/herself or others; (c) that the peace officer believes the risk of harm is imminent; (d) specific information about the person’s behavior, acts, attempts, statements, or threats observed by the peace officer; and (e) specific information about third parties who reported or observed the person’s behavior; and (3) prohibit a mental health facility or hospital emergency department from requiring a peace officer to execute any form other than the form described in (2), above, as a predicate to accepting for temporary admission a person under emergency detention.
S.B. 670 (Whitmire) – Juvenile Records: would allow records relating to a child who is a party to a proceeding to be inspected or copied by specified individuals.
S.B. 686 (Huffman) – Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education: would change the name of the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. (Companion bill is H.B. 1166 by Villalba.)
S.B. 687 (Huffman) – Bond Conditions: would require a defendant ordered by the court to have an alcohol monitoring device installed as a condition of bond to pay a fee not to exceed $10. (Companion bill is H.B. 1275 by Smith.)
S.B. 742 (Carona) – Child Abductions: would require: (1) a local law enforcement agency to, no longer than two hours after receiving a report of an attempted child abduction, provide any relevant information regarding the attempted child abduction to the state clearinghouse and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; and (2) officers first licensed after January 1, 2015, or seeking an intermediate or advanced proficiency certificate, to complete an education and training program on missing or exploited children.
S.B. 744 (Nelson) – Crime Victims’ Compensation Act: would expand the permissible compensation under the Crime Victims’ Compensation Act to include loss of support to a dependent who is a victim.
S.B. 745 (Nelson) – Sexual Assault Programs: would allow the attorney general to award grants to sexual assault programs, including municipal programs that provide specified minimum services.
S.B. 786 (Hinojosa) – Search Warrants: this bill is the same as H.B. 1608, above.
S.B. 796 (Lucio) – Traffic Violations and Accidents: would provide that the Texas Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety shall jointly conduct a study to review the use of technology and other methods to report, track, and prevent traffic violations and accidents, including global positioning systems and speed limit signs, used by other states and countries.
S.B. 809 (Carona) – 9-1-1 Fees: would remove Public Utility Commission oversight of the 9-1-1 Equalization Surcharge.
S.B. 811 (Van de Putte) – Human Trafficking: would: (1) continue the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force; and (2) require the task force to create a curriculum and train emergency medical services personnel and others on how to identify victims of human trafficking.
UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT
H.B. 1456 (Gooden) – IOU Water Rates: would provide that a county may intervene as a party in a water and sewer utility rate proceeding if the utility in the proceeding: (1) seeks to increase the rates of ratepayers who reside in the county by more than 25 percent; or (2) serves more than 3,000 ratepayers who reside in the county.
H.B. 1457 (Gooden) – IOU Water Rates: would provide that a regulatory authority (e.g., the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or a city) may include for ratemaking purposes only 50 percent of the reasonable and necessary rate case expenses of an investor-owned utility.
H.B. 1461 (Aycock) – Water Conservation: would require a retail public utility, including a city, that experiences total water loss in any month of more than 10 percent to notify each of the utility’s customers of the water loss on their next bill.
H.B. 1473 (Rodriguez) – Beverage Container Recycling: would: (1) create the Texas Beverage Container Recycling Consortium to administer incentives for recycling; (2) permit a city to establish and operate a redemption center and receive a handling fee from the Consortium; and (3) make violation of certain recycling provisions a class C misdemeanor.
H.B. 1488 (Harper-Brown) – Gas Rate Notices: would provide that, instead of mailing a customer notice of a rate increase, a gas utility may send the notice by e-mail if any customer’s e-mail address is available to the utility.
H.B. 1490 (Bell) – Municipal Solid Waste Fees: would: (1) provide that municipal solid waste “tipping” fees shall be reduced to 50 percent if the unobligated balance in the municipal solid waste disposal account equals or exceeds $30,000,000 and at such time the fees shall be distributed to the waste management account; (2) provide that, if the unobligated balance in the municipal solid waste disposal account falls below $15,000,000, the fees shall be reinstated to 100 percent and equally distributed between the municipal solid waste disposal account and the waste management account; and (3) add the following to the list of permissible expenditures of the tipping fee: (a) provision of funds for natural gas fueling stations to facilitate the conversion of solid waste diesel fleets to cleaner burning natural gas in nonattainment areas and Travis, Williamson, Hays, and Bexar counties; and (b) provision of funds for municipal solid waste renewable energy projects; including, waste-to-energy, landfill biogas for electricity, wastewater treatment facility biogas projects to electricity or renewable fuel, and food/yard waste anaerobic digestion.
H.B. 1509 (Anchia) – Civil Actions: would authorize a city to bring a civil action or use quasi-judicial enforcement procedures to enforce an ordinance relating to: (1) animal care and control; and (2) water conservation measures, including watering restrictions. (Companion bill is S.B. 654 by West.)
H.B. 1535 (Reynolds) – Sewage Systems: would allow a small commercial development sewage collection, treatment, and disposal system to be permitted as an on-site sewage disposal system, if certain conditions are met.
H.B. 1584 (Ritter) – Scrap Tires: would, among other things: (1) require a retail seller to contract for the transportation of scrap tires only with a licensed scrap tire transporter; (2) require an individual who stores scrap tires to store the scrap tires in a fully enclosed area or container that must be made secure by locking; and (3) provide that a retail seller shall prohibit a customer from retaining a scrap tire or used tire removed from the customer’s vehicle during the purchase of a tire, unless the customer can show that the tire will be used in the customer’s agricultural business.
H.B. 1600 (Cook) – Public Utility Commission: this is the Public Utility Commission (PUC) Sunset bill. Of particular interest to cities, the bill would continue the functions of the PUC until 2023 and would: (1) increase the PUC’s oversight of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas; (2) on September 1, 2014, transfer to the PUC the powers, duties, functions, programs, and activities of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) relating to the economic regulation of water and sewer service, including the issuance and transfer of certificates of convenience and necessity, the determination of rates, and the administration of hearings and proceedings involving those matters; (3) provide that, by August 1, 2014, the TCEQ and the PUC shall enter into a memorandum of understanding that governs the transition; and (4) authorize the Office of Public Utility Counsel to represent the interests of residential and small commercial water consumers. (Companion bill is S.B. 206 by Nichols.)
H.B. 1663 (Guillen) – Water Rate Cases: would provide that a water utility or two or more water utilities under common control and ownership may not file a statement of intent to increase its rates for the same customer more than once in a 12-month period, unless the regulatory authority determines that a financial hardship exists.
H.B. 1694 (Farrar) – Solid Waste Facilities: would: (1) prohibit a person from intentionally or knowingly disposing of used equipment eligible for collection under a manufacturer’s recovery plan in a municipal solid waste landfill or incinerator; and (2) exempt an owner or operator of a municipal solid waste landfill or incinerator from prosecution for accepting used equipment for disposal at a municipal solid waste landfill if the owner or operator has: (a) made a good faith effort to comply; (b) posted in a conspicuous location a sign stating that used equipment is not accepted; and (c) notified any solid waste collector registered to dispose of waste at the landfill, in writing, that used equipment is not accepted.
H.B. 1714 (Smith) – Compliance History: would discontinue the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s compliance history program and instead allow the commission to review an applicant’s or permit holder’s record of environmental violation in the preceding five years in deciding whether to issue, amend, or renew a permit.
H.B. 1772 (Turner) – Gas and Electric Utility Disconnections: would: (1) require an electric service provider or gas utility to send written notice of service disconnection to a customer and the city council, if the property is located in a city; (2) require a landlord, premises owner, or property manager to provide written notice of a service disconnection to each tenant or owner in an apartment, condominium, or building containing 10 or more dwellings that is master metered but not submetered no later than the fifth day after the date the landlord, premises owner, or property manager receives a notice of service disconnection; and (3) allow a city council to provide additional notice to property’s tenants and owners after receipt of the service disconnection notice and would not prohibit a city from adopting customer safeguards that exceed the safeguards provided in the bill.
H.B. 1776 (Schaefer) – Water Rights: would relate to emergency orders made during a period of drought or other emergency shortage of water and would provide that a “drought” means a drought classified as exceptional by the National Drought Mitigation Center.
H.B. 1780 (Schaefer) – Water Rights: would relate to emergency orders made during a period of drought or other emergency shortage of water and would provide that: (1) the executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality shall notify the water rights holders who may be affected by an emergency order not later than the 30th day before the date the proposed order takes effect; (2) not later than the 14th day after the date a person receives the notice, the person may request that the commission hold a hearing to affirm, modify, or set aside the proposed order; (3) if the commission receives a request under (2), above, the commission shall hold a hearing on the proposed order before the date the proposed order takes effect and shall affirm, modify, or set aside the proposed order; and (4) if a person files a petition for judicial review of an emergency order, the court shall expedite review of the decision.
H.B. 1792 (Paddie) – Pipeline Safety: would provide that: (1) various state laws governing pipeline safety and referencing federal law are modified to reflect the current federal law cite; and (2) “hazardous liquid” includes any nonpetroleum fuel, including biofuel, that is flammable, toxic, or corrosive or would be harmful to the environment if released in significant quantities and a substance or material, other than liquefied natural gas, determined by the United States secretary of transportation to pose an unreasonable risk to life or property when transported by a hazardous liquid pipeline facility in a liquid state.
H.B. 1788 (Dale) – Texas Railroad Commission: would provide that the Railroad Commission of Texas is renamed the Texas Energy Commission.
H.B. 1796 (Isaac) – Groundwater District Permits: would require a groundwater district to renew or amend a permit without a hearing so long as the application does not change the permitted point of groundwater withdrawal, place of using the water, purpose of the water, or amount of groundwater withdrawals from the well.
H.J.R. 97 (Dale) – Texas Railroad Commission: would amend the Texas Constitution to rename the Railroad Commission of Texas as the Texas Energy Commission.
S.B. 206 (Nichols) – Public Utility Commission: this bill is the same as H.B. 1600, above.
S.B. 645 (Ellis) – Beverage Container Recycling: this bill is the same as H.B. 1473, above.
S.B. 654 (West) – Civil Actions: this bill is the same as H.B. 1509, above.
S.B. 668 (Seliger) – Water Conservation Advisory Council: would allow the Water Conservation Advisory Council to make both a report on progress made in water conservation and recommendations for legislation to advance water conservation to the legislature.
S.B. 701 (Hegar) – Utilities: would make it a defense to a criminal trespass charge that an individual is an employee or agent of a municipally owned utility.
S.B. 749 (Davis) – Gas Pipeline Safety: would provide that a natural gas pipeline operator: (1) shall promptly respond to any notification received by the operator relating to: (a) a gas leak or gas odor emanating from any of the operator’s pipeline facilities; or (b) damage to any of the operator’s pipeline facilities caused by an excavator or other outside source; (2) ensure that the operator’s leak detection equipment is properly calibrated; (3) shall determine whether the leak is a “grade 1 leak” as defined by the bill; (4) on a determination that a leak is a grade 1 leak, shall make necessary repairs and take immediate action to eliminate hazardous conditions, including a list of actions included in the bill; and (5) report to the Railroad Commission about the leak and verify that the leak was repaired.
S.B. 762 (Carona) – Solid Waste Facilities: would: (1) prohibit a person from intentionally or knowingly disposing of used equipment eligible for collection under a manufacturer’s recovery plan in a municipal solid waste landfill or incinerator; and (2) exempt an owner or operator of a municipal solid waste landfill or incinerator from prosecution for accepting used equipment for disposal at a municipal solid waste landfill if the owner or operator has: (a) made a good faith effort to comply; (b) posted in a conspicuous location a sign stating that used equipment is not accepted; and (c) notified any solid waste collector registered to dispose of waste at the landfill, in writing, that used equipment is not accepted.
S.B. 782 (Hinojosa) – Drainage Districts: would allow a drainage district that is located in a county bordering the United Mexican States, and that has one or more drainage ditches that empties into the Gulf of Mexico, to construct a reservoir without obtaining a permit from the state.
S.B. 815 (Davis) – Gas and Electric Utility Disconnections: this bill is the same as H.B. 1772, above.
S.B. 819 (Duncan) – Demolition Waste: would authorize the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to issue a permit by rule allowing a county or city with a population of 12,000 or less to dispose of demolition waste from a building if the disposal occurs on land that the county or city owns or controls and would qualify for an arid exemption under TCEQ rules.
H.B. 1485 (Lavender) – Transportation Funding: would provide that, to the extent permitted by federal law, the governor shall waive the state’s right to receive money allocated under the federal-aid highway program and instead elect to receive the portion of the taxes appropriated to the Highway Trust Fund that is attributable to highway users in the state, as calculated by the federal law permitting the waiver and election. (Note: Texas is a net “donor” to the federal highway program, and this bill could in theory provide more funding for Texas highways.)(Companion bill is S.B. 678 by Paxton.)
H.B. 1545 (Allen) – Persons with Disabilities: would: (1) require that a public transportation provider give, at the request of an individual who resides in the provider’s service area and is eligible to use the provider’s services designed for a person with disabilities who is unable to use the provider’s bus or rail service, a written certification verifying the individual’s eligibility for the provider’s services; and (2) provide that the certification in (1), above, entitles the individual to obtain services from any transportation provider in the state.
H.B. 1627 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would provide that three-quarters of the state’s gas tax shall be credited to the state highway fund for the purpose of constructing and maintaining public highways.
H.B. 1700 (Farrar) – Driver’s Licenses and Personal Identification: would remove the requirement that an applicant for issuance of a driver’s license, personal identification certificate, or commercial driver’s license provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence in the United States.
H.B. 1716 (Pickett) – Transportation Reinvestment Zones: would amend the law relating to transportation reinvestment zones (TRZs) to provide, among other things, that: (1) the governing body of the city by ordinance may designate a contiguous geographic area in the jurisdiction of the city to be a transportation reinvestment zone to promote one or more transportation projects; (2) the governing body of a city may contract with a public or private entity to develop, redevelop, or improve a transportation project in a transportation reinvestment zone and may pledge and assign all or a specified amount of money in the tax increment account to that entity, and that after a pledge or assignment is made the governing body of the city may not rescind its pledge or assignment until the contractual commitments that are the subject of the pledge or assignment have been satisfied; and (3) property may not be removed or excluded from a designated zone if any part of the tax increment account has been assigned or pledged directly by the municipality or through another entity to secure bonds or other obligations issued to obtain financing of the project or provide funding for the development of a project.
H.B. 1719 (Phillips) – Airports: would, among other things: (1) provide that the governing body of a city that operates an airport may commission an employee of the airport security force as a peace officer under the provisions of the Occupations Code governing law enforcement officers; (2) require an airport operator to apply to the U.S. Undersecretary of Transportation for to participate in the security screening opt-out program and submit related information to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT); (3) provide that an airport operator who fails to comply with the requirements in (2), above, may not receive state funding for the operation of the airport; and (4) require that an airport operator submit to the DPS and TxDOT a written report describing the number and nature of complaints received by the airport operator from passengers concerning the behavior of Transportation Security Administration agents.
H.B. 1791 (J. Davis) – Liability: would, among other things, limit a city’s liability for space flight activities conducted on property owned by a city.
H.B. 1823 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would provide that the state revenue received from the tax imposed on the gross receipts from the rental of a motor vehicle be deposited to the state highway fund.
H.J.R. 95 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that the net revenue from motor vehicle registration fees and motor fuels tax shall be used for the sole purpose of constructing and maintaining public highways.
S.B. 678 (Paxton) – Transportation Funding: this bill is the same as H.B. 1485, above.
S.J.R. 38 (Williams) – State Infrastructure Fund: would: (1) establish a special revolving fund in the state treasury called the state infrastructure fund which would consist of: (a) money the legislature appropriates to the fund; (b) donations made to the fund; (c) loan repayments received by the state infrastructure board; and (d) interest earned on the balance of the fund; (2) establish a state infrastructure board consisting of three members appointed by the governor, including: (a) one member knowledgeable or experienced in transportation planning; (b) one member knowledgeable or experienced in port issues; and (c) one member knowledgeable or experienced in urban planning and economic development; (3) authorize the board to use fund revenue to provide loans to political subdivisions for economic development infrastructure or for credit enhancement to political subdivisions and other governmental entities that operate or maintain mass transit or toll projects; and (4) require $3 billion to be transferred from the rainy day fund to the credit of the state infrastructure fund.
S.J.R. 39 (Williams) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) create the “new capacity fund” as a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund to be administered by the Texas Transportation Commission; (2) provide that money deposited in the fund is dedicated to new capacity transportation projects, including planning of, acquisition of rights-of-way for, engineering for, design of, and construction of those projects, and may be used only for those purposes; (3) provide that the fund consists of revenue derived from: (a) any increase in motor vehicle registration fees imposed throughout the state on or after September 1, 2013; and (c) any additional motor vehicle registration fee imposed throughout the state on or after September 1, 2013; and (4) prohibit the issuance or sale of obligations of the state that are payable from or secured by a pledge of or a lien on the money in the fund.