CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED
H.B. 1784 (Flynn) – Water and Sewer Rates: would: (1) prohibit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from allowing recovery of any water or sewer rate case expenses by a municipally-owned utility when utility customers in the city’s ETJ have appealed a rate increase; and (2) change the way in which a city council determines the appropriateness of water or sewer rates set by a non-city utility.
H.B. 1801 (Bohac) – Sales Tax: would add school supplies to the list of items that are tax-exempt during the August sales tax holiday.
H.B. 1803 (Bohac) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain college textbooks.
H.B. 1810 (Pickett) – Transportation Reinvestment Zones: would amend the law relating to transportation reinvestment zones (TRZs) to provide that: (1) a TRZ may be used to facilitate the improvement, development, or redevelopment of property or to enhance a local entity's ability to sponsor a transportation project funded by pass-through tolls; (2) blight is a permissible reason for the creation of a TRZ; (3) an ordinance designating an area as a TRZ must, among other things, designate the base year for purposes of establishing the tax increment base of the municipality and contain findings that promotion of the transportation project will cultivate the improvement, development, or redevelopment of the zone; (4) from taxes collected on property in a TRZ, the city shall pay into the tax increment account the tax increment produced by the city, less any amount allocated under previous agreements; (5) all, or the portion specified by the city, of the money deposited to a tax increment account must be used to fund the transportation project for which the TRZ was designated, and any remaining money deposited to the tax increment account may be used for other transportation projects or for improvements in the TRZ; (6) the governing body of a city may contract with a public or private entity to develop, redevelop, or improve a transportation project in a TRZ and may pledge and assign all or a specified amount of money in the tax increment account to that entity; (7) to accommodate changes in the scope of the project for which a TRZ was designated, the boundaries of a zone may be amended, with certain exceptions; and (8) county TRZ authority is expanded.
H.B. 1815 (Isett) – Public/Private Partnerships: would create a new state agency called Texas Partnerships with a seven-member board appointed by the governor. The new agency would do the following: (1) assist with, support, and advise governmental entities on the use of public-private partnerships to undertake projects, including infrastructure projects; (2) develop ways to determine whether projects should be undertaken through the use of public-private partnerships so as to achieve optimum value; (3) provide services to governmental entities in relation to the use of public-private partnerships; (4) plan, implement, finance, operate, or otherwise take action regarding projects, including infrastructure projects, through the use of public-private partnerships as the governor may direct; and (5) through the use of public-private partnerships, carry out other activities or duties authorized by the bill or at the direction of the governor.
H.B. 1816 (Rose) – Property Tax: would exempt from property taxes certain equipment related for rainwater harvesting, water conservation, desalinization, and brush control. (Note: under current law, such an exemption is optional for a city council.) (Note: please see H.J.R. 74, below.)
H.B. 1818 (Rose) – Water Conservation: would: (1) “encourage” all cities to promote rainwater harvesting through incentives; (2) require a city to consider harvested rainwater as an on-site water supply source when considering exemptions or credits against the city’s impervious cover or density restrictions; (3) require members of certain cities’ permitting staffs to attend a rainwater harvesting seminar to be held by the Texas Water Development Board; (4) prohibit a city from denying a building permit solely because a building will implement rainwater harvesting; and (5) entitle a landowner to an exemption from property taxation on the portion of the landowner’s property value that is attributable to rainwater harvesting or other water conservation initiatives.
H.B. 1820 (J. Davis) – Workers’ Compensation: would provide that a city that has received notice that a police officer or firefighter has been injured in the line of duty must ensure that proper medical benefits are offered within ten days of notice of the injury and that the employee receives payment for reasonable expenses for necessary treatment of the injury, including orthotics if needed.
H.B. 1823 (Ortiz) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain renewable energy equipment.
H.B. 1826 (T. Smith) – Accident Report Information: would provide for the confidentiality of certain types of accident reports and would allow the Department of Transportation to release aggregated or statistical information relating to motor vehicle accidents, subject to certain exceptions. (Companion bill is S.B. 375 by Carona).
H.B. 1830 (Corte) – Criminal Records: would permit the Department of Information Resources to access a city’s law enforcement records regarding employees or applicants for employment at the Department of Information Resources.
H.B. 1831 (Corte) – Emergency Management Training: would require an elected city official with any emergency management duties to take a three-hour emergency management training course provided by the state.
H.B. 1844 (J. Davis) – Sales Tax: would grant cities the right to have comptroller notification, discovery, and a hearing regarding city sales tax reallocation decisions, as well as a right of appeal to a Travis County district court.
H.B. 1849 (Lucio) – Sales Tax: would create two sales tax holidays, one in August and one in January, for the sale of college textbooks.
H.B. 1853 (Darby) – Historic Redevelopment: would enact the Historic Redevelopment and Economic Development Act to: (1) encourage capital investment in historic and blighted areas of a community that are traditionally neglected due to the overinvestment that is required to use existing structures; (2) assist local governments in diversifying the economic opportunities in their communities; (3) enhance the redevelopment and economic development efforts of this state and local governments by providing school districts with an effective local redevelopment and economic development option; (4) authorize a school district to grant a tax exemption for tangible property that is located in an area in a city that is defined as a historic or blighted downtown, commercial corridor, or neighborhood by the city’s comprehensive plan; and (5) authorize a city or county to impose and collect from the owner of a property receiving an exemption under number 4, above, a reasonable impact fee to pay for the cost of providing improvements associated with or attributable to the property.
H.B. 1862 (Berman) – Elections: would provide that a person who moves to another county may cast a vote during the early voting period if the person is registered to vote in the county of former residence at the time the person attempts to vote in the new county.
H.B. 1880 (Pierson) – Cell Phone Ban: would double the fine for certain traffic violations in cases where the person who committed the offense was using a wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text message.
H.B. 1886 (Miklos) – Juvenile Curfew: would permit a city’s governing body to authorize the sheriff or constable to enforce the city’s juvenile curfew ordinance.
H.B. 1894 (J. Davis) – Sales Tax: would reduce from four years to one year the statute of limitations (also known as the “look back” provision) for reallocation of city sales taxes due to a mistake.
H.B. 1898 (Shelton) – Sovereign Immunity: would require a city to include “bicycling activities” on the notice of a city’s limited liability for damages arising from certain recreational activities on premises that the city owns, operates, or maintains for that purpose.
H.B. 1902 (Branch) – Sales Tax: would add personal computers to the list of items that are tax-exempt during the May sales tax holiday for energy-efficient products.
H.B. 1911 (Isett) – Texas Rural Investment Fund: would create a dedicated account in the state general revenue fund to be used to pay for grants or loans to public or private entities in cities under 50,000 population in order to stimulate the local economy in those areas.
H.B. 1913 (McReynolds) – Fire Hydrants: would: (1) require a water utility to paint a fire hydrant white if it is available only to fill a water tank on a fire truck; (2) require a water utility to paint a fire hydrant black or cover it with a tarp if it is unavailable or temporarily unavailable for fire suppression services; (3) define when a hydrant is considered “unavailable”; (4) create an exception to these rules if a city has its own hydrant color-coding rules; and (5) create a waiver of liability for certain water systems when a hydrant is unable to provide adequate water supply in an emergency.
H.B. 1932 (Thompson) – Health Benefit Plan Labeling: this bill would apply to most health benefit plans, including one issued by an intergovernmental risk pool. It would provide that certain documents issued by a health benefit plan must contain a “fact label” that includes the monthly premium, expenses paid in-network and out-of-network, annual out-of-pocket expenses, and much more. (Companion bill is S.B. 815 by Watson.)
H.B. 1936 (Villarreal) – Property Tax: would allow a city council to grant an optional homestead property tax exemption for homes that meet energy efficiency standards as prescribed by the city council. The duration of the exemption would vary as determined by the council. (Note: please see H.J.R. 75, below.)
H.B. 1937 (Villarreal) – Energy Efficiency: would authorize a city to create a voluntary property assessment in order to finance certain energy conservation improvements.
H.B. 1960 (Maldonado) – Employee Leave: would require a city to pay a firefighter or police officer for appearing as a witness at an administrative proceeding.
H.B. 1964 (Hilderbran) – Parks Funding: would provide that the dedication of sporting goods sales tax revenue to parks funding cannot be affected by the appropriations process. (Companion bill is S.B. 162 by Ellis.)
H.B. 1982 (Martinez Fischer) – Dangerous Dogs: would: (1) create a definition of “vicious dog” that would require registration of a dog whose physical nature, vicious propensity, or aggressive behavior makes it capable of inflicting serious bodily injury; and (2) make it a second degree felony for the owner if a dog attack causes death or causes serious injury to a victim who is younger than fifteen or older than 65.
H.B. 1985 (Martinez Fischer) – Law Enforcement: would require the defendant in certain criminal cases to undergo testing for AIDS or HIV within 48 hours of a request by the alleged victim, and would prevent the 48-hour period from starting until a law enforcement agency locates the defendant.
H.B. 1988 (Aycock) – Intoxication Offenses: would require a peace officer to make and attach a photocopy of a driver’s license to a temporary driving permit taken from a person suspected of an intoxication offense.
H.B. 1993 (Anchia) – Energy Security Technology: would provide that: (1) when constructing or extensively renovating a critical governmental facility (such as a command and control center, shelter, jail, or police or fire station), the entity with charge and control of the facility shall evaluate whether equipping the facility with a combined heating and power system (i.e., a system that can provide all of the electricity needed to power the facility's critical emergency operations for at least 14 days) would result in expected energy savings that would exceed the expected costs of purchasing, operating, and maintaining the system over a 20-year period; and (2) the entity may equip the facility with a combined heating and power system if the expected energy savings exceed the expected costs. (Companion bill is S.B. 1102 by Watson.)
H.B. 1996 (McCall) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain tangible personal property used in research and development.
H.B. 1998 (McCall) – Emergency Shelter Reimbursement: would require that a city be reimbursed by any resource available to the state for expenses incurred during a mandatory evacuation, including expenses for: (1) the use of a public facility in a city as an emergency shelter or temporary housing space, including lost revenue; and (2) amounts paid for salaries and benefits of permanently employed, straight-time and regular-time city personnel who perform duties associated with the movement or evacuation of persons into, out of, or through a city. (Companion bills are S.B. 178 and S.B. 340 by Gallegos).
H.B. 2000 (McCall) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would generally require a health benefit plan, including a plan issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, to provide coverage for amino acid-based elemental formulas (typically formulas for infants and children with food allergies).
H.B. 2004 (McCall) – Security Breach Notification: would: (1) require a city to promptly disclose a breach of system security to any individual whose personal information is believed to have been acquired as a result of the breach; (2) allow a city to delay notification at the request of a law enforcement agency that determines that notification will impede its investigation or jeopardize homeland security; and (3) provide for alternate forms of notice if the cost of providing notice would exceed $50,000 or the number of people affected exceeds 100,000.
H.B. 2005 (McCall) – Mandatory Health Benefit: would require that certain health benefit plans, including a plan issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, provide coverage for health care costs incurred in connection with clinical trials for the prevention, detection, or treatment of a life-threatening disease or condition. (Companion bill is S.B. 39 by Zaffirini.)
H.B. 2016 (Villarreal) – Agricultural Protection Act: would amend the Texas Agricultural Protection Act, which provides that certain regulations may not be applied to certain agricultural operations, by providing that: (1) the Act does not prohibit a county or city from enforcing a regulation, zoning classification, or other requirement relating to subdivision platting; (2) a county or city may require the owner of agricultural land to file an affidavit attesting to the land's use for an agricultural operation; (3) if a county or city with which an affidavit is filed determines that the use of land is changed to a nonagricultural use, the county or city may apply its governmental requirements to the land for the five years preceding the date on which the use of the land is determined to have changed; (4) any mitigation required by governmental requirements applied under number 3, above, shall be amortized, using the straight-line method, for a period not to exceed five years; (5) a county or city that determines that land is no longer used for an agricultural use shall deliver notice of that determination not later than the 20th day after the date the determination is made; and (6) on a final determination that use of the agricultural land has been changed to a nonagricultural use, the county or city making the determination shall attach a lien to the land to secure payment of all applicable fees, mitigation options, or a combination of fees and mitigation options.
H.B. 2034 (Kolkhorst) – Law Enforcement: would permit a municipal court judge who is also an attorney to issue a warrant for the search and seizure of contraband subject to forfeiture.
H.B. 2041 (S. Turner) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain disaster preparation and survival equipment.
H.B. 2054 (Rodriguez) – Emergency Services District (ESD) Employees: would provide that the firefighters of certain ESDs shall have extensive rights and benefits currently granted to firefighters covered by civil service statutes or other statutes. (Note: a city served by an ESD should review this bill thoroughly.)
H.B. 2063 (Callegari) – Groundwater Conservation Districts: would provide that: (1) a groundwater conservation district may enforce its rules against any person, including a city, by injunction, mandatory injunction, or other appropriate remedy in a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) a district by rule may impose reasonable civil penalties against any person, including a city, for breach of any rule of the district not to exceed $10,000 per day per violation; and (3) if a district prevails in any suit to enforce its rules, the district may seek and the court shall grant against any person, including a city, in the same action, recovery for attorneys’ fees, costs for expert witnesses, and other costs incurred by the district before the court. (Companion bill is S.B. 1190 by Duncan.)
H.B. 2068 (Elkins) – Peace Officer Identification Card: would require a law enforcement agency to provide an identification card to any honorably retired peace officer who requests one. (Note: this is optional under current law.)
H.B. 2071 (Oliveira) – Property Tax: would provide that auto dealers who file late inventory declarations for property tax purposes may be charged a penalty, and would require heavy equipment dealers and manufactured housing dealers to file additional property tax statements with the tax collector.
H.B. 2082 (Isett) – Purchasing: would provide that the five-percent local preference provision in current law that applies to real property, personal property, or services, may be used only for a contract of less than $100,000.
H.B. 2092 (Driver) – Employee Leave: would require a city to give paid leave to a police officer who attends the de-escalation and crisis intervention education and training program. H.B. 2106 (Geren) – Alternative Procurement Methods: would: (1) prohibit the use of a reverse auction procedure for a public works contract for which a performance or payment bond is required; (2) consolidate the provisions of current law relating to alternative delivery systems for construction projects (e.g., competitive sealed proposals, construction manager-agent, construction manager at-risk, design-build, and job order contracting) by most governmental entities, including cities; (3) provide procedures and criteria for a governmental entity to use when selecting a construction contractor using a method other than competitive bidding; (4) authorize the use of any alternative delivery method, except design-build, for any improvement to real property; (5) for a city under 100,000 population, limit the use of design-build to buildings and associated structures; (6) for a city over 100,000 population, authorize the use of design-build for a limited number of civil works projects (such as roads, bridges, and utilities) in any fiscal year, based on population; (7) for a city over 100,000 that chooses to use the design-build method for a civil works project, provide that the city shall assume all risks associated with the project; (8) for a city over 100,000 that chooses to use the design-build method for a civil works project, provide that the city may offer a stipend of one-half of one percent to an unsuccessful offeror to offset the offeror’s costs in preparing its proposal; (9) for a city over 100,000 that chooses to use the design-build method for a civil works project, provide that if the city does not pay a stipend to an unsuccessful offeror, the governmental entity may not use or disclose in any way the work product contained in the offer; (10) if a change order for a public works contract in a city with a population of 500,000 or more involves a decrease or an increase of $100,000 or less, or a lesser amount as provided by ordinance, the governing body may grant general authority to an administrative official to approve the change order; (11) allow the use of alternative procurement methods for a project financed with certificates of obligation; (12) for a project financed by certificates of obligation, impose certain limits on change orders; and (13) expressly provide that certain entities may not use the alternative procurement methods in the bill. (Companion bill is S.B. 1110 by Jackson.)
H.B. 2110 (Hughes) – Regulatory Takings: would make a city regulation that takes, damages, destroys, impairs, or prohibits development of a mineral interest 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-days notice of the adoption of most regulations prior to adoption.
H.B. 2113 (Walle) – Peace Officers: would allow a police officer or firefighter, in a city with more than 25,000 in population, to treat September 11th as a paid day off if the officer substitutes another holiday or uses other paid time off, and is not required by the city to work to maintain minimum staffing levels.
H.B. 2126 (Kent) – Graffiti: would make a graffiti offense that results in less than $300 of pecuniary loss a class B misdemeanor and make a graffiti offense that results in between $300 and $1500 of pecuniary loss a class A misdemeanor.
H.B. 2132 (Rios Ybarra) – Municipal Court Records: would require a municipal court to seal a person’s identifying personal or financial information in the court’s record upon request, unless the court finds good cause not to seal the information.
H.B. 2133 (Gutierrez) – Law Enforcement: would increase from three days to ten days the amount of time allowed to execute search warrants for specimens for DNA analysis.
H.B. 2134 (Rios Ybarra) – Water Audits: would provide that: (1) a retail public utility providing potable water, including a municipally-owned utility, shall perform and file with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) an annual water audit computing the utility's water loss during the preceding year; and (2) a retail public utility providing potable water, including a municipally-owned utility, that serves populations of 3,300 or less and that does not receive any form of financial assistance from the TWDB shall perform and file with the TWDB every five years a water audit computing the utility's most recent annual system water loss.
H.B. 2139 (McClendon) – Municipal Court: would: (1) authorize a city to establish a pre-trial, victim-offender mediation program for certain misdemeanor property crimes; (2) require a city that establishes such a program to notify the attorney general’s office and provide information about the program upon request; (3) authorize a program fee not to exceed $500 to be used only for purposes specific to the program; (4) create a $15 court cost on crimes against property to go to the comptroller for distribution to pre-trial victim-offender mediation programs, of which 40 percent may be retained by a city with such a program already in place. (Note: this bill is substantially the same as H.B. 2270, by Alonzo, below.)
H.B. 2149 (Lewis) – Sovereign Immunity: would lower from $100,000 to $10,000 the maximum amount for which an individual public servant, including a city official, may be liable for certain property damages. (Companion bill is S.B. 1041 by Patrick).
H.B. 2150 (Kleinschmidt) – Property Tax: would provide that land need not currently be agriculturally appraised in order to receive a wildlife management appraisal, and land receiving an agricultural appraisal will not lose that appraisal because of a temporary cessation of agricultural activities of less than two years.
H.B. 2153 (Edwards) – Sex Offenders: would change certain address and residency reporting requirements for registered sex offenders, particularly for those persons who reside at no particular address.
H.B. 2158 (Edwards) – Municipal Court Costs: would provide that a person convicted of a misdemeanor offense shall pay as a court cost: (1) $30 on conviction of a misdemeanor offense if the person's DNA was analyzed as part of the investigation of the or if, after the person's arrest for the offense, the person was required under other law in relation to that offense to provide to a law enforcement agency one or more specimens for the purpose of creating a DNA record; (2) $50 for executing or processing an arrest warrant, capias, or capias pro fine by a peace officer; and (3) $50 if the offense is an alcohol or drug offense, with the revenue being used to fund drug court programs.
H.B. 2160 (S. Turner) – Peace Officers: would: (1) prohibit a police officer from engaging in political activity while in uniform or on duty; and (2) limit the way in which a city may conduct a disciplinary investigation or question an officer, including granting the officer the right to a reasonable time and place for questioning, the right to counsel and access to documents, a notice of investigation or questioning, a hearing, and a written record of any proceedings.
H.B. 2165 (Rose) – Property Tax: would provide that certain land used for ecological research may quality for an open-space land agricultural appraisal.
H.B. 2166 (Rose) – Water and Sewer Rates: would give a city original and exclusive jurisdiction over all rates, operations, and services provided by a water supply or sewer service corporation within the city limits.
H.B. 2198 (Solomons) – Workers’ Compensation: would require a city or a risk pool to: (1) provide the same notice of workers’ compensation benefits as an insurance company, including network requirements; and (2) receive a written acknowledgement from the employee regarding the required notice.
H.B. 2213 (Farrar) – Criminal Records: would prohibit a city from considering an order of community supervision or deferred adjudication community supervision that has resulted in a discharge and dismissal of charges for the purposes of determining the appropriate action to take regarding a certification, commission, license, or permit. The bill would also increase the number of cases in which a person is entitled to request an expunction.
H.B. 2215 (Farrar) – Discrimination: would prohibit a city from discriminating against a person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the provision of food, shelter, recreation, amusement, goods, services, privileges, facility use, or accommodation.
H.B. 2216 (Pierson) – Utility Poles: would provide that: (1) the Public Utility Commission by rule shall ensure that electric and telecommunications utilities maintain telephone and electric utility poles so that they stand at an angle that varies no more than 30 percent from a line that is perpendicular to the ground; and (2) a city or county by ordinance or order may ensure that electric and telecommunications utilities maintain telephone and electric utility poles so that they stand at an angle that varies no more than 30 percent from a line that is perpendicular to the ground.
H.B. 2222 (Farrar) – Immigration: would prohibit a peace officer from inquiring as to the nationality or immigration status of a victim of or witness to a criminal offense, except where it is necessary to the investigation.
H.B. 2226 (Parker) – Sales Tax: would create a May sales tax holiday for certain residential solar and wind energy devices.
H.B. 2230 (Parker) – Property Tax: would repeal the requirement that interest is due on back taxes when land loses an agricultural appraisal.
H.B. 2239 (Hamilton) – Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA): would transfer the functions of ORCA to the Department of Agriculture and abolish the ORCA board.
H.B. 2243 (Leibowitz) – Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC): would: (1) abolish the TRCC; (2) repeal Section 214.906 of the Local Government Code, which requires a city, before issuing a building permit, to verify that the builder is registered with the TRCC; and (3) require any person who engages in residential construction to obtain a license from the Texas Commission on Licensing and Regulation.
H.B. 2253 (Hancock) – Political Advertising: would change the statute relating to unlawful political advertising on measures as follows: (1) require that violations of the statute be knowing; (2) require the Texas Ethics Commission (the Commission) to adopt rules defining unlawful advocacy; (3) provide that a member of a city council whose only action in connection with a proposed communication describing a measure is to approve the spending of public funds for a communication that does not violate the statute does not commit an offense if, at the time the spending was approved, the proposed content does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure, but the content of the communication is later changed; (4) provide that a city officer or employee does not violate the statute based solely on the conduct of others; (5) provide that it is an affirmative defense to prosecution under the statute that a city official or employee relied on a written opinion of a court, the attorney general, the Commission, or the city attorney; (6) provide that a civil penalty for violation of the statute bars criminal prosecution for the same conduct; and (7) provide that a sworn complaint alleging violation of the statute may not proceed beyond a preliminary review hearing unless the Commission makes a finding that the complaint is not frivolous and states in writing the basis for that finding.
H.B. 2254 (Hancock) – Water: would permit a city to stop the permitting process for a gas injection well after a determination by the city’s governing body that the underground formation is not suitable due to its proximity to a water table. (Companion bill is S.B. 752 by Davis.)
H.B. 2256 (Hancock) – Health Benefit Plans: would: (1) require a health benefit plan, including a plan issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, to make available to an enrollee in its provider network at least one health care provider for each medical specialty; (2) prohibit a plan from entering into an exclusive contract with a hospital or physician group; and (3) require the plan to submit to the Texas insurance commissioner information regarding out-of-network reimbursements and out-of-pocket expenses.
H.B. 2257 (Giddings) – Property Tax: would provide for sales price disclosure upon the sale of commercial real estate, apartment buildings, and vacant land.
H.B. 2268 (Corte) – Lobbying: would: (1) prohibit the governing body of a political subdivision from spending public money to influence legislation, (2) prohibit the political subdivision from using public money for membership dues of a state association, if the association or an employee of the association attempts to influence the outcome of legislation; and (3) prohibit such an association from attempting to influence legislation if the association is funded wholly or in part by payments of tax receipts from political subdivisions.
H.B. 2270 (Alonzo) – Municipal Court: this bill is substantially the same as H.B. 2139 by McClendon, above.
H.B. 2274 (Raymond) – Elections: would allow an election authority adopting a voting system to provide for the use of electronic voting machines in addition to another method of casting a vote at the same polling place.
H.B. 2282 (Thompson) – Electric Reregulation: would, among other things: (1) grant to the Texas Public Utility Commission (Commission) all necessary jurisdiction to take any action necessary to effectuate the reregulation of retail electric service in an area in which customer choice was introduced before January 1, 2010; (2) require the Commission to develop by rule an integrated resource planning process to provide reliable energy service at the lowest reasonable system cost; and (3) provide that the Commission may review the state's transmission system and make recommendations to electric utilities on the need to build new power lines, upgrade power lines, and make other necessary improvements and additions.
H.B. 2284 (Rodriguez) – Property Tax: would change the community housing development (CHDO) property tax exemption as follows: (1) provide that rented housing may qualify for a CHDO exemption regardless of whether it is single-family housing or apartments; and (2) require a chief appraiser to use the income method when appraising CHDO property even if the appraiser believes that method isn’t the best method.
H.B. 2287 (Driver) – Computer Maintenance: would provide that repair or maintenance of a computer does not constitute an “investigation” under the Texas Occupations Code. (Note: legislation passed in 2007 led some to believe that computer repair would require an investigator’s license.) (Companion bill is S.B. 1244 by Carona, below.)
H.B. 2290 (Gattis) – Property Tax: would change appraisal district operations as follows: (1) permit taxpayers to request state audits of appraisal districts; (2) repeal the ability of cities to request state audits of appraisal districts; (3) provide that four out of five appraisal board members shall be popularly elected by county precinct; (4) provide that the fifth board member shall be the assessor-collector; (5) abolish the provision that allows a majority of taxing units that make up the appraisal district to challenge the district’s budget; (6) prohibit taxing units from agreeing to alter the method of financing an appraisal district; and (7) repeal the authority of taxing units to challenge appraisal district board actions.
H.B. 2291 (Gattis) – Property Tax: would provide that: (1) a city’s effective tax rate is the default tax rate for each tax year; (2) a city council must affirmatively vote to adopt a tax rate that is higher or lower than the effective tax rate; (3) the meeting to adopt a tax rate that differs from the effective rate must be an open meeting; and (4) a city must hold two hearings to adopt a rate that exceeds the effective tax rate.
H.B. 2292 (Gattis) – Property Tax: would eliminate the five-year rollback penalty that under current law must be paid when a property ceases to qualify for an agricultural property appraisal.
H.B. 2298 (Y. Davis) – Fire Fighter Advisory Committee: would make it optional (rather than mandatory, as is current law) for the Texas Commission on Fire Protection to consult with the firefighter advisory committee, and would abolish the fire department emergency program, which provides scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial assistance to eligible local fire departments.
H.J.R. 74 (Rose) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to exempt from property taxes certain equipment related to rainwater harvesting, water conservation, desalinization, and brush control. (Note: under current law, such an exemption is optional for a city council.) (Note: please see H.B. 1816, above.)
H.J.R. 75 (Villarreal) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to grant an optional homestead property tax exemption for homes that meet energy efficiency standards as prescribed by the city council. The duration of the exemption would vary as determined by the council. (Note: please see H.B. 1936, above.)
S.B. 1128 (Nichols) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes medical equipment used in certain “medically underserved” areas of the state.
S.B. 1134 (Duncan) – Elections: would allow certain underage students to serve as election clerks.
S.B. 1137 (Jackson) – Construction Contracts: would provide that the Texas Construction Fund Trust Act applies to a public construction contract, regardless of whether the contract is covered by a statutory or common law payment bond. (Note: The Texas Construction Trust Fund Act provides that any funds paid to a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier are held in trust for all parties in the construction chain. It is generally designed to protect subcontractors and suppliers from the default of a general contractor. This bill would overturn a recent court decision, Dealers Electrical Supply Company v. Scoggins Construction Company, Inc., which held that a supplier’s only remedy is under a performance or payment bond.) (Companion bill is H.B. 1513 by W. Smith.)
S.B. 1151 (Hinojosa) – Property Tax: would raise from 20 percent to 30 percent the maximum allowable, optional city homestead property tax exemption. (Note: please see S.J.R. 32, below.)
S.B. 1158 (W. Davis) – Health Benefit Plan Rates: would generally subject the rates of health benefit plans to state regulation.
S.B. 1159 (Carona) – Property Tax: would provide a complete residence homestead property tax exemption for totally disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. (Note: please see S.J.R. 33, below.)
S.B. 1162 (Hegar) – Litigation: would: (1) require a party or amicus curiae to an action, suit, or proceeding (not including the state, a state agency, or a state officer) to notify the attorney general if a challenge is asserted to the validity of a state statute or rule; and (2) allow the state to intervene in an action, suit, or proceeding to present evidence and argument on the question of the validity of the challenged statute or rule.
S.B. 1165 (Carona) – Law Enforcement Vehicles: would permit a vehicle owned or leased by a federal governmental entity and used for law enforcement to be classified as an authorized emergency vehicle, and would permit a privately-owned vehicle to qualify as a city police vehicle for certain purposes, provided the vehicle is owned by a peace officer, the police chief has approved the use, and the vehicle is marked with the insignia of a law enforcement agency.
S.B. 1174 (Patrick) – Court Fines: would require a municipal court to remit to a school district 50 percent of any fine: (1) collected for an offense which occurred on school district property; and (2) for which the person was issued a citation by a school district police officer.
S.B. 1180 (Patrick) – Regulatory Takings: would make most city regulations 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-days notice of the adoption of most regulations prior to adoption. The bill would also define a “taking” as: (a) a governmental action or series of actions that affects private real property, in whole or in part or temporarily or permanently, in a manner that requires the governmental entity to compensate the private real property owner as provided by the federal or state constitutions, affects an owner's private real property that is the subject of the governmental action, in whole or in part or temporarily or permanently, in a manner that restricts or limits the owner's right to the property that would otherwise exist in the absence of the governmental action, and is the cause of a reduction of at least 25 percent in the market value of the affected private real property; or (b) a governmental action or series of actions that has the effect of limiting the overall impervious cover of any development or use of an owner's private real property to less than 35 percent of the surface area of the property in most instances. The bill would also: (1) provide that the Act does not apply to certain governmental actions, such as an action that is reasonably taken to fulfill an obligation mandated by federal or state law or an action taken based on reasonable evidence that the action is necessary to prevent a grave and immediate threat to life or property, so long as the actions do not affect building size, lot size, or impervious cover; (2) extend the statute of limitations for a claim under the Act from 180 days to two years; (3) change the current remedies in the Act to allow for a property owner to seek invalidation of the governmental regulation and money damages from the governmental entity that imposes the regulation; (4) provide that a court shall award a governmental entity that prevails in a suit or contested case filed under the Act reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees and court costs, but only if the court determines that the private real property owner knew that the suit or contested case had no merit at the time the owner filed the suit; and (5) provide that a proposed governmental action that requires a takings impact assessment may be stayed by a court if an assessment is not prepared or if the assessment is not in compliance with guidelines developed by the attorney general under the Act.
S.B. 1182 (Wentworth) – Public Information Act: would: (1) require a governmental body to send to the attorney general a copy of the written comments submitted to a requestor within fifteen business days of receiving a written request for information; and (2) provide that a suit by a governmental body challenging the determination of the attorney general must be filed in a Travis County district court.
S.B. 1190 (Duncan) – Groundwater Conservation Districts: this bill is the same as H.B. 2063, above.
S.B. 1202 (Deuell) – Sales Tax: would generally give priority for the intrastate sourcing of city sales taxes to the location where a retailer first accepts payment for goods.
S.B. 1205 (West) – Community Land Trusts: would provide that the governing body of a city or county by ordinance or order may create or designate one or more community land trusts (CLTs), including a housing finance corporation or a land trust operated by a community housing development organization certified by the city or county, to operate in the city or county. (Note: A CLT is an affordable housing tool generally used in gentrifying areas in which the CLT acquires title to land, sells or leases housing units located on the land, and leases the land through ground leases with terms of at least 50 years.) Land in a CLT would be tax-exempt.
S.B. 1213 (Gallegos) – Disease Presumption: would provide that a firefighter or emergency medical technician (EMT) who contracts methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) resulting in illness or death is presumed to have suffered the illness or death during the course and scope of employment – and is therefore covered by workers’ compensation – if, while on duty, the firefighter: (1) was exposed to a person with MRSA who received treatment from the firefighter or EMT, or (2) participated in training involving equipment contaminated or suspected to be contaminated with MRSA. (Note: MRSA is a staph infection that is resistant to conventional treatment.)
S.B. 1236 (Seliger) – Municipal Court: would require certain language to be added to citations for class C misdemeanors and certain court proceedings. (Companion bill is H.B. 1644 by Dukes.)
S.B. 1242 (Carona) – Elections: would prohibit electioneering and loitering within 250 feet of an outside door at a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at a polling place.
S.B. 1244 (Carona) – Computer Maintenance: this bill is the same as H.B. 2287, above.
S.B. 1257 (Averitt) – Health Benefit Plans: would regulate the cancellations, the loss ratios, and the premium rate adjustments of certain health benefit plans. This bill would also require a health benefit plan, including a plan issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, to adopt standardized processing of certain claims. Finally, the bill would generally prohibit those plans from disseminating information that ranks, classifies, compares, or rates a physician’s performance, efficiency, or quality of practice.
S.B. 1258 (Hegar) – Fire Hydrants: would provide that: (1) a "hydrant" means a fire hydrant or a metal flush valve that has the appearance of a fire hydrant; (2) each public water system responsible for any hydrant shall paint the hydrant white if the hydrant is available to be used only to fill a water tank on a fire truck, and paint the hydrant black if the hydrant is unavailable for use; (3) a public water system may place a black tarp over the hydrant if the hydrant is temporarily unavailable for use in a fire emergency for a period not to exceed 60 days; (4) a hydrant is considered to be unavailable for use if the public water system is not obligated to provide water for fire suppression services, the public water system elects not to provide water for those services, or the hydrant delivered less than 50 gallons of water per minute during its most recent flow test under normal conditions; (5) the provisions of the bill do not apply within the jurisdiction of a governmental entity that maintains its own system for labeling or color-coding its hydrants, or to any public water system that has entered into a contract with a city or volunteer fire department to provide a water supply for fire suppression services if the contract specifies a different system for labeling or color-coding hydrants; and (6) the fact that a hydrant is not painted black or concealed does not constitute a guarantee by the public water system that the hydrant will deliver a certain amount of water flow at all times, and a public water system is not liable for a hydrant's inability to provide adequate water supply in a fire emergency.
S.B. 1268 (Shapleigh) – Property Tax: this bill is substantially the same as S.B. 1159, above. (Note: please see S.J.R. 34, below.)
S.B. 1272 (Carona) – Property Tax: would exempt high speed passenger rail facilities from property taxes.
S.B. 1294 (Jackson) – Sales Tax: would reduce from four years to two years the statute of limitations (also known as the “look back” provision) for reallocation of city sales taxes due to a mistake.
S.B. 1297 (Huffman) – Court Fines: would provide that if a defendant is convicted of more than one offense arising out of the same criminal episode, the fines imposed for the offenses run consecutively. (Note: this bill would overturn a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision, State v. Crook, which called into question the ability of a court to “stack” fines for the same criminal episode.)
S.B. 1310 (Duncan) – Elections: would create a program to eliminate county precincts and establish countywide polling places for certain elections, including a city election that is held jointly with the county.
S.J.R. 32 (Hinojosa) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to raise from 20 percent to 30 percent the maximum allowable, optional city homestead property tax exemption. (Note: please see S.B. 1151, above.)
S.J.R. 33 (Carona) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to provide a complete residence homestead exemption for totally disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. (Note: please see S.B. 1159, above.)
S.J.R. 34 (Shapleigh) – Property Tax: this resolution is substantially the same as S.J.R. 33, above. (Note: please see S.B. 1268, above.)