City-Related Bills Filed
H.B. 1830 (N. Gonzalez) – Appraisal Process: would create a pilot program in El Paso county that would provide that, in an appraisal protest filed by a commercial or industrial property owner relating to a property with an appraised or market value of at least $1 million, the chief appraiser may file a request with the appraisal review board to compel the property owner to disclose to the chief appraiser information relating to the sales price, rate of occupancy, lease or rental income, or production capacity and income of the property that is the subject of the protest.
H.B. 1897 (Eiland) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide that, for purposes of the “Prop 2” property tax exemption for pollution control property: (1) a determination that a facility, device, or method is used wholly or partly for the control of air, water, or land pollution is effective January 1 of the year following the year in which the determination becomes final, or is finally determined on appeal; and (2) the executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality may require a person who is allowed an exemption for pollution control property in a prior year to file a new permit application or exemption request to confirm the person’s current qualification for the exemption.
H.B. 1904 (Eiland) – Delinquent Tax Suits: would require a taxing unit to pay attorney ad litem fees in connection with a delinquent tax suit.
H.B. 1913 (Bohac) – Delinquent Taxes: would: (1) allow a city council to waive penalties and interest on a delinquent tax for any tax year preceding the tax year in which the owner acquired the property if: (a) the owner or another person liable for the tax pays the tax not later than 181 days after the date the property owner receives notice of the delinquent tax; and (b) the delinquency is the result of taxes imposed on omitted property entered into the appraisal records or erroneously exempted property or appraised value added to the appraisal roll; and (2) provide that the waiver of penalties and interest under (1), above, applies only to the tax lien on the property and does not relieve the person who owned or acquired the property on January 1 of the year for which the delinquent tax was imposed from any personal obligation for the accrued penalties and interest on the tax.
H.B. 1943 (Bohac) – Appraisal Cap: would reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten to five percent. (Please see H.J.R. 102, below.)
H.B. 1946 (Bohac) – Appraisal Cap: would: (1) limit re-appraisals of residential homesteads to no more often than once every two years; and (2) prevent taxable value increases in years in which homesteads are not re-appraised. (Note: the intended effect of this bill is to create a five- percent appraisal cap on homesteads, but its constitutionality—absent an accompanying constitutional amendment—is questionable.)
H.B. 1998 (Kleinschmidt) – Property Tax Exemption: would make land used for supporting outdoor education eligible for appraisal as open-space land for property tax purposes.
H.B. 2001 (Anchia) – Property Tax Exemption: would allow an applicant for a residence homestead property tax exemption who does not have a driver’s license or state-issued personal identification certificate to apply for the exemption using a sworn-affidavit stating that: (1) the applicant does not have a driver’s license or state-issued personal identification certificate; and (2) the property for which the applicant is claiming the exemption is the applicant’s residence homestead.
H.B. 2024 (E. Rodriguez) – Tax Lien: would provide that a tax lien is perfected upon attachment of the lien, and that perfection requires no further action by the taxing unit except that the lien on personal property – including manufactured housing – requires recording of the lien under certain circumstances.
H.B. 2192 (Murphy) – Appraisal Process: would authorize a property owner to appeal through binding arbitration an appraisal review board order determining a protest filed due to unequal appraisal of the owner’s property if the property is the owner’s residence homestead and is valued at $1 million or less.
H.B. 2224 (Hilderbran) – Appraisal Districts: would, among other things: (1) impose training and licensing requirements on chief appraisers of appraisal districts; and (2) authorize the comptroller to appoint a chief appraiser for an appraisal district if the chief appraiser is ineligible to serve.
H.B. 2231 (Simmons) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide that a property owner is subject to additional taxes if the property owner conveys land that has been appraised as agricultural property to a person, state, or political subdivision who changes the use of the land, and the property owner regains possession of the land on or before the fifth anniversary of the conveyance and uses the land in a way that would have initially subjected the land to the additional tax.
H.B. 2314 (Otto) – Appraisal Districts: would: (1) require appraisal district board members to annually complete open government training and training relating to the operation of the appraisal district; and (2) provide that not completing the training makes a board member ineligible to continue to serve on the board.
H.B. 2324 (N. Gonzalez) – Delinquent Property Taxes: would provide that a delinquent property tax incurs a penalty of interest calculated at an annual rate that is equal to the most recent prime rate published by the Federal Reserve Board as of the first day of the month in which the tax becomes delinquent (capped at six percent) of the amount of the tax for the first calendar month it is delinquent, plus one percent for each additional month prior to July 1 of the year in which it becomes delinquent.
H.J.R. 102 (Bohac) – Appraisal Cap: would amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature to reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten to five percent. (Please see H.B. 1943, above.)
S.B. 835 (Lucio) – Appraisal Cap: would provide that a replacement for a structure that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by casualty or by wind or water damage is not considered to be a new improvement for property tax appraisal cap purposes if the disaster recovery program administered by the General Land Office required: (1) the square footage of the replacement structure to exceed that of the replaced structure; or (2) the exterior of the replacement structure be of higher quality construction and composition than that of the replaced structure.
S.B. 1030 (Taylor) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide a property tax exemption for energy storage systems used or constructed to wholly or partly meet environmental regulations that are located in a designated non-attainment area and have a capacity of at least ten megawatts.
S.B. 1076 (Hegar) – Appraisal Review Board: would require the appraisal review board to conduct a closed hearing if the property owner or the chief appraiser plans to disclose proprietary information at the hearing.
S.B. 1085 (Eltife) – Property Tax Exemption: would limit the types of individuals who qualify as heavy equipment inventory dealers for purposes of the property taxes imposed on heavy equipment inventory. (Companion bill is H.B. 826 by Harless.)
H.B. 1923 (Thompson) – Sales Tax Administration: would, among other things:
- allow the comptroller to delegate to a person employed or designated by a city the power to investigate and examine the records of a person doing business in the state for local sales tax liability purposes;
- require the comptroller to include in its additional report requested by a city certain information relating to local sales taxes, including: (a) a statement of the proportional allocation to the municipality of a partial payment of sales taxes; (b) a statement showing the tax periods covered by the delinquencies and the amount of delinquency during each period; and (c) a statement of the date by which the comptroller will make the appropriate allocation to a city, if the comptroller did not initially make the appropriate allocation;
- if a city determines and reports to the comptroller that a person doing business in the city has wholly or partly collected or reported sales taxes incorrectly und the chapter, provide that the comptroller may provide additional information in response to the city’s report, including: (a) a statement that the person is obligated for the municipal tax and the tax is delinquent, which must include: (i) a description of the action the comptroller is taking to collect the delinquent tax; (ii) an estimate of the delinquent tax due to the city and the tax periods covered by the delinquency; (iii) the date by which the comptroller will complete the review and the date by which the comptroller will make all delinquent funds available to the municipality; and (iv) the date and periods covered by the most recent audit of the person by the comptroller or a statement that the comptroller has not conducted an audit of the person; (b) a certification that the person is obligated for the city sales tax, including the periods for which the person is obligated for the city sales tax, the full amount of the tax due in each period that the person is obligated, and a statement as to whether the tax due has been credited to the city’s account; or (c) a statement authorizing a person employed by or designated by the city to investigate and examine the records of the person doing business in the city that has wholly or partly collected or reported taxes incorrectly;
- authorize a city to petition the comptroller for a redetermination if the city disagrees with a determination made by the comptroller;
- authorize the comptroller to set and collect reasonable fees from a city to cover the expense of compiling and providing information or providing access to the administrative appeals process;
- on the request of a city, require the comptroller to provide the city with information relating to the gross sales, taxable sales, and taxable purchases by each person doing business in the municipality by individual outlet as reported to the comptroller on a sales and use tax return;
- on the request of a city, require the comptroller to provide the city with a sales and use tax audit report related to applicable local sales tax collections and corrections, including any supporting documentation;
- authorize a city that has adopted a sales tax to submit a clarification request to the comptroller for a determination of the appropriate location at which sales or uses were consummated, which may include a question in relation to specific sales or uses or may include a fact pattern relating to sales and uses;
- require the comptroller to respond to the request by a city under (8), above, not later than 90 days after the date the comptroller receives the request, and allow the city to use the response from the comptroller in communications with a person, office, or outlet to encourage or compel compliance with state law.
H.B. 2047 (Lozano) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt certain tangible personal property and services related to mineral exploration and production from sales and use taxes.
H.B. 2271 (Morrison) – Sales Tax Exemptions: would: (1) provide that certain hurricane preparation items are exempt from sales taxes between the dates of May 25 and May 31; and (2) allow the comptroller to add items to the list of hurricane preparation items.
H.B. 2288 (Zerwas) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt from sales and use taxes hospital mattresses and intravenous systems, supplies, and replacement parts designed or intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, illness, injury, or pain in humans.
S.B. 859 (Deuell) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt from sales and use taxes the sale or use of tangible personal property used or consumed in qualified research or services if the property or services are sold to, leased or rented to, or stored, used, or consumed by, a person who is engaged in qualified research and will not claim a credit on a franchise tax report for the period during which the sale or use occurs.
S.B. 862 (Taylor) – Sales Tax Exemption: would provide that boats greater than 65 feet in length that are not used for commercial shipping are subject to the state-only sales tax on boats and boat motors, and therefore not subject to city sales and use taxes.
S.B. 935 (Davis) – Sales Tax Exemption: would exempt from sales and use taxes the services used to create a computer program and the sale or storage, use, or other consumption of a computer program if: (1) the computer program is sold by the creator to a purchaser; (2) the computer program is created at the request of the purchaser; (3) the exclusive rights to the computer program are transferred from the creator to the purchaser; and (4) the computer program is created: (a) without the use of existing programming code; or (b) with the use of existing programming code only if the existing programming code is available for use without charge by everyone.
S.B. 997 (Deuell) – 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 a city or an economic development corporation prior to January 1, 2009; and (d) the city 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. (Companion bill is H.B. 1466 by Hughes.)
H.B. 1977 (Kuempel) – Construction Managers: would provide that: (1) a governmental entity’s construction manager-agent for a project may not serve, alone or in combination with another person, as the project’s construction manager-at-risk; and (2) a construction manager-at-risk contract may not be awarded to a governmental entity’s engineer, architect, construction manager-agent, or program director or certain related entities, with certain exceptions.
H.B. 1994 (Reynolds) – Commodity Items: would allow a state agency to purchase certain information technology commodity items through a contract developed by certain local government purchasing cooperatives if the commodity item is unavailable for purchase under an existing contract developed by the Department of Information Resources.
H.B. 1840 (Wu) – Elections: would provide that a poll watcher shall wear a badge that prominently displays the words “Poll Watcher” while the watcher is observing election activity. (Companion bill is S.B. 160 by Huffman.)
H.B. 600 (Taylor) – Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act: would, among other things: (1) require the secretary of state to make a checklist or similar guidelines available for optional use by early voting clerks in processing an application and providing balloting materials to a military or overseas voter; and (2) repeal the authority of the secretary of state to adjust or modify election dates or procedures affected by the state implementation of the MOVE Act. (Companion bill is S.B. 904 by Van de Putte.)
H.B. 666 (R. Miller) – Voting by Mail: would provide that an application for a ballot to be voted by mail is considered to be an application for a ballot for each election in which the county clerk serves as early voting clerk if the application: (1) is submitted to the county clerk indicating the grounds of eligibility is age or disability; and (2) does not specify the election for which a ballot is requested.
H.B. 1837 (Wu) – One-Stop Early Voting: would (1) create a one-stop early voting polling place for the general election for state and county officers; and (2) provide that a person shall be accepted during early voting by personal appearance at a one-stop voting location for voting the ballot for the precinct of the person’s residence as shown by the identification presented on the day the person offers to vote.
H.B. 1838 (Wu) – Voter Registration: would provide that either an active or discharged military person who is eligible to vote shall be accepted for voting in the precinct of the person’s residence on the day the person offers to vote if the person: (1) submits a voter registration application; (2) presents a United States military identification card that contains the person’s photograph; (3) presents a deployment order indicating that the person was deployed on or after the 60th day before election day; and (4) presents proof of residence.
H.B. 1839 (Wu) – Voter Registration: would provide that a senior citizen or a person with a disability who is not registered to vote shall be accepted for voting in the precinct of the person’s residence as shown by identification presented at the polling place; and (2) an election officer serving a polling place for early voting by personal appearance is a deputy voter registrar and has the same authority as a regular deputy registrar.
H.B. 1911 (Klick) – Election Dates: would, among other things: (1) set the general primary date as the first Saturday in March of each even-numbered year; and (2) set the primary runoff date as the fourth Saturday in May following the general primary election.
H.B. 1958 (Turner, Sylvester) – Elections: would provide that the secretary of state shall adopt rules and procedures to inform and educate the public and to provide training for election officers regarding the availability of voting to voter who is physically unable to enter a polling place.
H.B. 2006 (Klick) – Central Station Manager: would provide that person who is an employee of the political subdivision that adopts or owns a voting system may be eligible for appointment as the central station manager.
H.B. 2023 (Rodriguez) – Early Voting: would allow a person to vote a limited ballot by personal appearance at any early voting polling place.
H.B. 2093 (Harless) – Early Voting: would provide that: (1) the period for early voting by personal appearance begins on the 10th day before election day and continues through the fourth day before election day; and (2) early voting shall be conducted on each weekday and Saturday of the early voting period and during the hours that the county clerk’s or city secretary’s main business office is regularly open for business. (Companion bill is H.B. 2106 by Aycock.)
H.B. 2106 (Aycock) – Early Voting: this bill is the same as H.B. 2093, above.
H.B. 2110 (Kolkhorst) – Election Officers: would provide that: (1) a person is ineligible to serve as an election judge or clerk in an election if the person is employed by or related within the second degree to an officer in any precinct in which the office appears on the ballot; and (2) each election officer shall be issued a form of identification by the secretary of state to be displayed by the officer during the officer’s hours of service at the polling place.
H.B. 2262 (R. Miller) – Early Voting: would, among other things, provide that: (1) the secretary of state shall prescribe a system for assigning a confidential early voting by mail audit number to each registered voter; (2) a person commits a misdemeanor if the person discloses an early voting by mail audit number to a person other than the voter; (3) the voter’s early voting by mail audit number must be contained on the voter registration certificate; (4) an application for ballot voted by mail may be submitted via e-mail containing a scanned image of the application, if the clerk has an e-mail address; (5) the early voting clerk shall deliver to the early voting board a list of early voting by mail audit numbers for those voters who requested an early voting by mail ballot; and (6) a poll watcher may challenge the acceptance of any early voting by mail ballot by calling attention to an irregularity or violation to a chair of the early voting ballot board.
H.B. 2306 (Thompson) – Early Voting: would provide: (1) that a qualified voter is eligible for permanent mail voter status if the voter is: (a) 65 years of age or older on election day; or (b) has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place; (2) for procedures to implement permanent mail voting; and (3) that the early voting clerk shall notify the early voting clerks serving every authority that orders elections in the clerk’s jurisdiction of the voter’s permanent mail voter status.
H.B. 2317 (Aycock) – Elections: would provide that the early voting clerk authorized to order early voting on a Saturday or Sunday shall order such voting on receipt of a written request submitted by at least 50 registered voters of the territory covered by the election.
S.B. 904 (Van de Putte) – Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act: this bill is the same as H.B. 600, above.
S.B. 910 (Duncan) – Elections: would, among other things, provide that: (1) a delivery, submission, or filing of a document or paper may be made by personal delivery, mail, telephonic facsimile machine, or any other method of transmission; (2) the secretary of state shall determine whether the information required to be filed for a death must be filed electronically and inform the appropriate entities of the determination; (3) a person employed by a county solely as an early voting clerk is not employed by a candidate and may serve as an election judge or clerk; (4) an election for an office for which candidates are not nominated by primary election may not be held within 30 days before or after the date of the general election for state and county officers, general primary election, or runoff primary election; (5) the secretary of state may prescribe the form and content of a ballot for an election using a voting system, including an electronic voting system or a voting system that uses a direct recording electronic voting machines, to conform to the formatting requirements of the system; (6) an election officer shall conduct the same procedures to a person who is unable to enter a polling place during early voting as election day; (7) the balloting materials for voting by mail may be mailed to the residence address provided on the early voting ballot application or the registered mailing address if different, if the early voting clerk provides a form for a statement of residence; and (8) dates and deadlines for filing various applications are modified.
S.B. 928 (Paxton) – Electioneering: would provide that a public building selected as a polling place shall not prohibit or restrict electioneering, including but not limited to posting political signs, on the buildings premises outside the prescribed limits within which electioneering is prohibited during the early voting and on election day.
H.B. 2190 (Turner) – Personal Financial Statements: would make various changes to the contents of the personal financial statements filed by public officials and candidates in cities with a population of 100,000 or greater.
H.B. 2246 (Harper-Brown) – Public Information: would: (1) allow, in a suit filed under the Public Information Act, the information at issue to be filed with the court for in camera inspection; and (2) require the court, upon receipt of information for in camera inspection, to enter an order preventing the release to or access by any person other than the court, a court of appeals, or parties permitted to inspect the information. (Companion bill is S.B. 983 by Ellis.)
S.B. 881 (Ellis) – Public Information: would: (1) designate information that is confidential by law as publicly available information on or after the 75th anniversary of the date the information was originally created or received by the governmental body or after the expiration of a specified period for maintaining the confidentiality of the information; and (2) except from (1), above, certain archeological or historical resources and landmarks and certain social security numbers.
S.B. 983 (Ellis) – Public Information: this bill is the same as H.B. 2246, above.
S.B. 984 (Ellis) – Open Meetings: 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 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 (current law requires a quorum to be physically present); (2) require that the notice of a meeting described in (1), above, specify as a location of the meeting the location where the member of the governmental body presiding over the meeting will be physically present and specify the intent to have the member of the governmental body presiding over the meeting present at that location; 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. (Companion bill is H.B. 1749 by Perry.)
S.B. 988 (Hegar) – Public Information: would: (1) except from public disclosure records of telephone calls, text messages, e-mails, or other electronic communication to which a peace officer is a party; (2) provide that communications described in (1), above, are subject to disclosure under an appropriate court order, subpoena, or order compelling disclosure in discovery; and (3) authorize a law enforcement agency or officer to redact information described in (1), above, without requesting a decision from the attorney general.
OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS
H.B. 7 (Darby) – Dedicated Revenue: would: (1) provide that the legislative budget board shall take various measures to reduce state government’s reliance on dedicated revenue for the purposes of certification of the state budget; (2) lower the amount of the current solid waste “tipping fee” and provide that the portion of the tipping fee that goes to local and regional solid waste projects is reduced by 25 percent (form two-thirds to one-half of total collections); (3) authorize 9-1-1 fee revenue to be appropriated to the Texas A&M Forest Service for providing assistance to volunteer fire departments; (4) authorize funds in the trauma facility and emergency medical services account (funded through the state’s portion of municipal red light camera fines) to go to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for graduate-level medical education programs or nursing education programs.
H.B. 1861 (Dutton) – Service of Process: would allow a city officer to be served with citation, notices, writs, orders and other papers issued by a court in a suit by delivery: (1) in person: (a) to the person to be served; (b) to a coresident, who is at least 16 years of age, of the person to be served at the person’s place of residence; (c) to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process on behalf of the person to be served; or (d) in certain instances, to a person of suitable age, discretion, and authority at the principal office of the person to be served; or (2) by registered or certified mail to the place of residence of the person to be served.
H.B. 1864 (Wu) – Combined Heating and Power Systems: would mandate that the State Energy Conservation Office establish procedures for a governmental entity’s evaluation, when constructing or extensively renovating a critical governmental facility or replacing major heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment for a critical governmental facility, of whether equipping the facility with a combined heating and power system would result in expected energy savings that would exceed the expected costs of purchasing, operating, and maintaining the system over a 20-year period.
H.B. 1886 (Farias) – Payday and Auto Title Lending: would subject payday and motor vehicle title lenders to a number of regulations, including: (1) a requirement that all credit services organizations provide documents to a consumer that are written in the language in which the contract is negotiated that is easily understood by the average consumer and printed in an easily readable font and type size; (2) a prohibition on a credit services organization to assist a consumer with, or charge a consumer a fee in connection with, a loan or other extension of credit that is not in the form of a payday transaction or motor vehicle title loan; (3) a requirement that the amount of a payday loan may not exceed 20 percent of a consumer’s gross monthly income; (4) a requirement that the amount of a motor vehicle title loan may not exceed three percent of a consumer’s gross annual income or 70 percent of the retail value of the motor vehicle; (5) a requirement that a multi-payment payday or motor vehicle title loan may not be payable in more than four installments that must repay at least 25 percent of the principal amount of the debt, and may not be refinanced or renewed; (6) a requirement that a single payment payday or motor vehicle title loan may not be refinanced or renewed more than three times, with proceeds from each refinancing or renewal being used to repay at least 25 percent of the principal amount of the original debt; and (7) a requirement that any extension of consumer credit made to a consumer on or before the seventh day after the date the consumer has paid a previous extension of consumer credit made by the same person is considered a refinance or renewal of the previous debt.
H.B. 1917 (Rodriguez) – Alcohol Advertising: would: (1) allow a public bus or taxi to advertise alcohol if it operates primarily in an entertainment district of a city; and (2) allow a city to define the boundaries of such an entertainment district.
H.B. 1950 (Thompson) – State Regulation: would repeal the criminal penalties for violations of certain regulatory laws, including those for day laborer employers, property tax appraisers, collectors, and assessors, industrialized housing companies, and other occupations regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. (Companion bill is S.B. 972 by Carona.)
H.B. 1982 (Murphy) – Enterprise Zones: would authorize a county to nominate for designation as an enterprise project a project or activity of a qualified business that is located in the county and in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city primarily located in a different county.
H.B. 1983 (Murphy) – Municipal Debt: would: (1) require every city 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 (2) require a city to maintain an Internet website on which it posts the annual financial report continuously along with the city’s relevant contact information.
H.B. 1984 (Murphy) – Enterprise Zone: would: (1) allow an enterprise project designation to be split in half; (2) provide that the maximum number of jobs that the Texas Economic Development Bank may allocate to an enterprise project that was split in half is 250; and (3) provide that a half enterprise project is eligible for a maximum refund of $125,000 in each state fiscal year.
H.B. 2019 (Craddick) – Payday Lending: would provide that an extension of consumer credit by a credit services organization is subject to the state’s usury laws.
H.B. 2021 (E. Rodriguez) – Debt Collection: would authorize a county or city to contract with a private attorney or public or private vendor for the collection of a debt owed in relation to a civil case if the debt is more than 60 days overdue, and to collect a fee of not more than 30 percent of the amount collected in order to compensate the attorney or vendor.
H.B. 2064 (Gooden) – Unsworn Declaration: would allow a city or state agency employee to file an unsworn declaration that does not include their birth date or residence.
H.B. 2078 (Thompson) – Mixed Beverage Tax: would create an additional one-cent mixed beverage tax dedicated to the crime victim compensation fund.
H.B. 2167 (Davis) – Forfeiture of Office: would: (1) provide that a person holding an elected or appointed state or local office forfeits that office if the person: (a) willfully fails to enforce a state or federal law in the course of the person’s official duties; (b) directs others subject to the person’s supervision or control not to enforce a state or federal law; or (c) states orally or in writing that the person does not intend to enforce a state or federal law in the course of the person’s official duties; (2) except from (1), above, laws that have been held invalid by or challenged in a court with jurisdiction over the territory served by the officer; and (3) provide that a person found guilty under (1), above, is removed from office and disqualified from public office for a period of ten years.
H.B. 2176 (Kolkhorst) – Certificates of Obligation: would: (1) provide that, except in a case of grave public necessity to meet an unusual and unforeseen condition, a city may not issue a certificate of obligation (CO) if the voters voted down a bond proposition for the same purpose within the preceding three years; (2) extend the timeframe to publish newspaper notice of intention to issue a CO from 30 to 45 days before the passage of the ordinance; (3) require a city issuing a CO to maintain an Internet website, and to continuously post notice of intention to issue a CO on its website for 45 days before the passage of the CO issuance ordinance; (4) require that the notice of intention to issue a CO include: (a) the total amount and per capita amount of the principal of all outstanding debt; (b) the combined principal and interest required to pay all outstanding debt; (c) the principal of the COs to be authorized; (d) the estimated combined principal and interest required to pay the COs to be authorized; (e) the estimated rate of interest for the COs to be authorized; (f) the maturity date of the bonds to be authorized; and (g) the process by which a petition may be submitted requesting an election on the issuance of the certificates; (5) change the threshold number of voters needed to petition to force an election on the issuance of a CO from five percent of the qualified voters of the issuer to five percent of the total number of voters that voted in the most recent gubernatorial general election in the city; and (6) make COs issued for personal or professional services subject to the notice requirements.
H.B. 2198 (Anchia) – Pension Review Board: this is the Pension Review Board sunset bill. Of interest to cities, the bill would: (1) continue the Pension Review Board until 2025; (2) authorize the board to provide training to retirement trustees and administrators; (4) exempt some fire fighter pension plans from the certain state law requirements; (5) require an audit for a public retirement system that is separate from a governmental entity’s general audit; (6) require that a public retirement system inform its participants within 31 days of any significant change in the ordinances or regulations of the system that could affect contributions, benefits, or eligibility; and (7) eliminate certain actuarial valuations for defined contribution plans. (Companion bill is S.B. 200 by Patrick.)
H.B. 2259 (Moody) –City Council Attendance: would provide that a city councilmember in a type A general law city is considered to have an unexcused absence if he or she departs before a meeting is adjourned, unless a unanimous vote of the rest of council allows the departure.
H.B. 2281 (Phillips) – Abandoned Motor Vehicles: would, among other things, provide that a person applying to the Department of Motor Vehicles to dispose of an abandoned motor vehicle must, on the filing of the application, give the same type of notice as does a law enforcement agency that takes an abandoned vehicle into custody.
H.B. 2315 (Villarreal) – Consumer Loans: would authorize the Texas Finance Commission to prescribe by rule the maximum amount of an administrative fee and acquisition charge associated with certain consumer loan contracts.
H.B. 2319 (Parker) – Overnight Shelters: would: (1) prohibit a city from adopting an ordinance, or enforcing an existing ordinance, that prohibits a church from providing overnight shelter for children 17 years of age and younger; (2) provide that a city ordinance or regulation that relates to the safe and sanitary operation of a homeless shelter applies to a church that provides overnight shelter for children; and (3) make a church immune from civil liability for any act or omission resulting in injury to a child or in damage to or loss of a child’s property while the child is using a church as an overnight shelter, unless the act or omission is intentional, willful, wantonly negligent, or done with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others.
H.J.R. 105 (Taylor) – State Agency Rules: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that the legislature by general law may provide for legislative review or approval of rules adopted by agencies in the executive department, including procedures regarding rules; conditions for rules to take effect; and provisions for the suspension, repeal, or expiration of rules.
S.B. 18 (Carona) – Windstorm Insurance: would provide comprehensive reform of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Program by, among many other things: (1) creating a state-managed pool (the Texas Property Insurance Program) in which private insurers would be forced to cover wind and hailstorm policies currently covered by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association; (2) funding reforms through surcharges (in an amount of five percent for those located in a catastrophe area (e.g., coastal regions) and one percent for those located outside of a catastrophe area (e.g., inland counties)) on all property and automobile policies that are issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2014, that are deposited to a state-managed Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund used to pay damages from storms.
S.B. 19 (Carona) – Catastrophe Loss Mitigation: would provide that: (1) the Texas Insurance Commissioner, in cooperation with the office of public insurance counsel, shall develop and implement statewide emergency preparedness and loss mitigation programs designed to reduce potential insured residential property losses; (2) the Texas Department of Insurance or the office of public insurance counsel, jointly or severally, may enter into agreements with any individual or entity, including a political subdivision, a state or federal agency, a trade association, a university, or a nonprofit entity or other private entity as appropriate to implement this bill; (3) the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, at the direction of the commissioner, shall provide money to provide funding for grants available only to residential property owners in the seacoast territory; (4) the commissioner by rule may identify actuarially justified: (a) premium credits that may be given for a residential property insurance policy if mitigation measures been implemented, added, or installed in an insured structure; or (b) premium surcharges that may be imposed by an insurer for a residential property insurance policy if the insured structure or the construction of the structure does not meet building code standards adopted by the commissioner by rule; (5) the current law relating to county building code authority is expanded, including a requirement that a county shall require the issuance of a certificate of compliance as a precondition to obtaining utility services; (6) a roofing contractor advisory board is created to provide advice and recommendations to the commission on the adoption of rules governing the repair of a roofing system; (7) a person may not act as or offer to act as a roofing contractor unless the person holds a license issued by the Department of Insurance under the bill; and (8) the license under the bill is in addition to any required licensure of persons in this state, and the bill is not intended to conflict with or affect the authority of any state or local agency, board, or department that administers or enforces any law or ordinance or that establishes, administers, or enforces a policy, rule, qualification, or standard for a trade or profession.
S.B. 843 (Paxton) – Special Districts: would, among other things, require the comptroller to create an Internet database containing information relating to special districts, including sales and use tax rates and property tax rates for each district, and update the information in the data base regarding taxes annually.
S.B. 933 (Davis) – Local Parks Funding: would repeal the state law prohibiting the state comptroller from crediting to the Parks and Wildlife Department or the Texas Historical Commission any amount of taxes imposed on the sale of sporting goods in excess of the amounts appropriated to the department or commission, respectively. (Companion bills are H.B. 162 by Larson and S.B. 175 by Estes.)
S.B. 936 (Davis) – State Budget: would provide that: (1) the legislative budget board shall: (a) develop and implement a process to review new legislative enactments that create dedicated revenues and the appropriation and accumulation of dedicated revenues and available dedicated revenues; (b) develop and implement tools to evaluate the use of available dedicated revenues for state government financing and budgeting; and (c) develop specific and detailed recommendations on actions the legislature may reasonably take to reduce state government's reliance on available dedicated revenues for the purposes of state budget certification; (2) the availability of dedicated fee revenues for purposes of state budget certification is limited through a phase-in process culminating in 2021; and (3) interest or other earnings that accrue on unspent dedicated fees are available for any general governmental purpose, and the comptroller shall deposit the interest and earnings to the credit of the general revenue fund.
S.B. 972 (Carona) – State Regulations: would repeal the penalties for violations of certain regulatory laws including those for day laborer employers, property tax appraisers, collectors, and assessors, industrialized housing companies, and other professionals. (Companion bill is H.B. 1950 by S. Thompson).
S.B. 998 (Davis) – Payday and Auto Title Lending: would prohibit a credit access business from assisting a consumer in obtaining a payday or motor vehicle title loan unless the loan contract provides that the lender must accept partial repayment of the principal balance of the loan from the consumer, with no additional fees or penalties, at any time during regular business hours.
S.B. 999 (Davis) – Payday and Auto Title Lending: would provide that state law regulating payday and motor vehicle title loans does not preempt a municipal ordinance regulating a credit access business or an extension of consumer credit that a credit access business obtains for a consumer or assists a consumer in obtaining.
S.B. 1000 (Davis) – Payday or Auto Title Lending: would expressly authorize a city to adopt an ordinance that regulates the fees that may be charged to a borrower in connection with a payday or motor vehicle title loan.
S.B. 1001 (Davis) – Payday or Auto Title Lending: would provide that payday and motor vehicle title lenders are subject to the same level of state regulation and oversight as other credit services organizations, and cannot assist a consumer in obtaining an extension of credit that is not in the form of a payday or motor vehicle title loan. (Companion bill is H.B. 786 by E. Rodriguez.)
S.B. 1081 (Lucio) – Structural Engineering: would create a new classification of “structural engineer” in the Texas Engineering Practices Act and would provide that a person may not practice structural engineering without a certificate issued by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.
S.J.R. 41 (Davis) – Payday and Auto Title Lending: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that any fee charged by a third party to a borrower for arranging or otherwise facilitating an extension of consumer credit that is used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and is unsecured or secured by a non-purchase money security interest in personal property is attributable to the lender and included in the computation of interest for purposes of regulating interest rates.
H.B. 1921 (Thompson) – Prosecutors: would prohibit the Commission for Lawyer Discipline from giving a private reprimand for a violation of a disciplinary rule that requires a prosecutor to disclose to the defense all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense. (Companion bill is S.B. 825 by Whitmire.)
H.B. 2025 (Capriglione) – Jurisdiction: would clarify that the provision in current law allowing a city to enter into an agreement with a contiguous city to establish concurrent jurisdiction of the municipal courts applies to an offense committed or conduct that occurs before, on, or after May 19, 2011.
H.B. 2040 (Giddings) – Complaints: would: (1) prohibit a police officer from issuing a citation to a child who is alleged to have committed a school offense; (2) allow a school to file a complaint against a child who is alleged to have committed a school offense with a criminal court; and (3) provide additional requisites for a school offense complaint, including a statement from a school employee.
H.B. 2230 (Wu) – Order of Nondisclosure: would: (1) require a filing fee of $50 for a petition for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information; (2) allow a defendant to petition a municipal court for an order of nondisclosure, if the defendant was convicted or granted a dismissal by the municipal court; and (3) allow the court to require the defendant to perform community service, pay a fee, or both as a condition to granting the petition.
H.B. 2266 (Larson) – Child Defendants: would: (1) require a defendant who is a child to elect in writing at the time of conviction to either discharge the fine and courts costs by performing community service or making payments; (2) prohibit all records and files relating to a child from being disclosed to the public, except in very limited circumstances; (3) prohibit a child on school property from being issued a citation; (4) provide additional requisites for a complaint charging a child with the commission of a Class C misdemeanor; (5) allow an attorney representing the state to adopt rules pertaining to the filing of a complaint that the state considers necessary in order to determine probable cause, review the allegations for legal sufficiency, and see that justice is done; (6) require that a court where there is a pending complaint against a child alleging a violation of a misdemeanor offense punishable by fine only, other than a traffic offense, waive its jurisdiction and refer the child to juvenile court if the court has previously dismissed a complaint because of mental illness or disability; (7) amend the Penal Code to: (a) prohibit a person younger than 10 years of age from being prosecuted for a misdemeanor punishable by fine only or a city ordinance violation; and (b) create a presumption that a person between the ages of 10 and 15 is incapable of committing a misdemeanor punishable by fine only or violating a city ordinance; and (8) create a defense to criminal responsibility for a child with a mental illness, developmental disability, or lacking the capacity to understand the proceedings in criminal court.
H.J.R. 100 (Dutton) – Judicial Sanctions: would amend the Texas Constitution to expand the ability of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to sanction a judge. (Companion resolution is S.J.R. 42 by Huffman.)
S.B. 825 (Whitmire) – Prosecutors: this bill is the same as H.B. 1921, above.
S.B. 915 (West) – Juvenile Records: would require the automatic sealing of the records in the case of a person who has been found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision, if a court finds that the defendant is: (1) sixteen years of age or younger and two years have elapsed since the final discharge; or (2) seventeen years of age or older and before the person’s 17th birthday, the defendant was finally discharged or the last official action in the person’s case occurred if there was no adjudication.
S.B. 966 (West) – Judicial Branch Certification Commission: would establish the Judicial Branch Certification Commission to oversee the regulatory programs for court reporters, appointed guardians, and court interpreters.
S.J.R. 42 (Huffman) – Judicial Sanctions: this bill is the same as H.J.R. 100, above.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
H.B. 866 (Paxton) – Technology Centers: would allow a local government, including a city, to request to be considered for a contract with a state technology center for the center to provide the city with technological services or operations. (Companion bill is H.B. 1744 by Elkins.)
H.B. 1832 (R. Miller) – Military Airport Zoning: would grant to certain cities and counties certain additional zoning authority over an area that extends not more than five nautical miles from the centerline and not more than five nautical miles from each end of the paved surface of the landing strip at an air force facility.
H.B. 1874 (Lewis) – Eminent Domain: would provide that a city may appeal an interlocutory order of a statutory probate court. (Note: certain probate courts have jurisdiction over eminent domain matters, and this bill would authorize appeals from those courts as is allowed from other trial courts under current law.) (Companion bill is S.B. 1083 by Rodriguez.)
H.B. 1888 (Anchia) – Low Income Housing: would change the definition of an at-risk development for the purpose of awarding low income housing tax credits to include a development that proposes to rehabilitate or reconstruct certain public housing and Section 9 units.
H.B. 1908 (Eiland) – Venue Projects/Hotel Occupancy Taxes: would: (1) limit the definition of “venue” for purposes of a venue project by excluding civic centers, civic center buildings, auditoriums, and exhibition halls from the permissible types of venue projects; (2) require a ballot proposition authorizing the imposition of a hotel occupancy tax to support a venue project to include specific ballot language that lists the maximum hotel occupancy tax rate imposed from all sources; and (3) prohibit a city or county from proposing a hotel occupancy tax rate that would cause the combined hotel occupancy tax rate imposed from all sources at any location in the city or county to exceed 17 percent of the price paid for a room in a hotel. (Note: City officials should carefully check the following in relation to this bill: (1) current total hotel occupancy tax rate; (2) plans for future city venue projects; and (3) how those plans would be impacted by a 17-percent cap on total hotel occupancy tax rates. Cities with concerns should contact Shanna Igo, TML Deputy Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
H.B. 1912 (Elkins) – Public Improvement Districts: would, among other things:
- authorize a public improvement district to include two or more noncontiguous areas separated by: (a) a right-of-way or other land dedicated to governmental, tax-exempt, charitable, or utility entities; or (b) not more than 2,500 feet between the nearest points on the property lines of the closest situated noncontiguous areas;
- authorize a public improvement district project to be undertaken inside or outside a public improvement district if the project confers a special benefit on property inside the district;
- expand the list of proper public improvement district projects to include: (a) acquisition, construction, improvement, or rerouting of rail facilities; (b) the right to receive water, wastewater, or drainage services, the right to acquire a certificate of convenience and necessity to provide those services, and the obligation to pay service-related costs and expenses (including tap fees, connection fees, and impact fees authorized by law); (c) the establishment or improvement of open spaces and recreation facilities; and (d) facilities or equipment for firefighters, police, sheriffs, and emergency service providers;
- authorize a public improvement project to be conveyed or provided to, or for the benefit of, another political subdivision or other entity approved by the city council;
- provide that a public improvement project may include the acquisition, construction, or improvement of facilities used for higher education;
- provide that the failure of a property owner to receive notice of a proposed district does not invalidate the public hearing held on the district;
- allow a city to publish a caption of the resolution authorizing the district, instead of the entire resolution;
- provide that the 20-day waiting period to begin construction or acquire an improvement may be waived at any time if two-thirds of the property owners within the district file a written waiver with the city secretary;
- authorize the governing body of a city or county to dissolve a district by resolution approved by two-thirds of the governing body (in addition to process to dissolve by petition of property owners) , so long as governing body holds a hearing and mails notice of the dissolution to each property owner in the district;
- authorize the governing body of a city or county to exclude all or a portion of an owner’s property from the district, or include an owner’s property in the district, if the governing body receives a petition from the owner, publishes notice and holds a public hearing on the exclusion or inclusion, and adopts a resolution excluding or including the property;
- authorize a county commissioners’ court to include property in a home rule city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in a district unless the city objects to the inclusion of the property within 30 days;
- provide that a city or county is responsible for payments against exempt municipal or county in the district only if payment is expressly authorized by the governing body of the city or county;
- provide for a flexible assessment plan to provide for various development scenarios, and allow an assessment to vary from a proposed service plan, proposed assessment plan, or proposed assessment roll so long as the total cost of an assessment does not exceed the cost of improvements provided in the notice of assessment roll;
- authorize a city to issue bonds or certificates of obligation to: (a) pay costs; (b) refund any obligations like installment sales contracts, reimbursement agreements, time warrants, or temporary notes; or (c) be payable from and secured by special assessments;
- provide that an assessment or obligation issued that is payable and secured by the assessment, does not constitute a debt or pledge of the full faith and credit of the city or county, State of Texas, or any other political subdivision or agency of the state.
(Companion bill is S.B. 968 by West.)
H.B. 1935 (Schaefer) – Economic Development Corporations: would: (1) authorize a Type A or Type B economic development corporation to make expenditures for general infrastructure improvements, including: (a) transportation facilities; (b) solid waste disposal facilities; (c) sewage facilities; (d) facilities for furnishing water to the general public; (e) air or water pollution control facilities; (f) airports or airport-related facilities; and (g) ports or port-related facilities; and (2) provide that an election on the adoption of a proposed sales and use tax for the benefit of a Type A or Type B corporation has no effect unless 25 percent of the registered voters of the municipality vote in the election in which the adoption of the sales and use tax is on the ballot.
H.B. 1988 (Perry) – Building Materials: would provide that: (1) corrugated stainless steel tubing in each residential dwelling constructed in this state must conform to the standards of the 2008 International Residential Code or to a version of that code that is adopted by ordinance of the largest municipality in the county in which the dwelling is located and that is at least as stringent as the 2008 version of that code; and (2) corrugated stainless steel tubing in each commercial structure constructed in this state must conform to the minimum standards adopted by state fire marshal order.
H.B. 2048 (Lozano) – Rural Economic Development: would create the Texas Rural Development Fund as an account in the state’s general revenue fund, which would consist of legislative appropriations and donations, and that funds may be spent in rural areas of the state on entrepreneurship programs, regional planning, rural leadership enhancement, and rural youth corps programs.
H.B. 2062 (J. Davis) – Plumbers: would provide that: (1) the installation, repair, and service of equipment for rainwater harvesting is considered “plumbing” for purposes of state law; and (2) a water supply protection specialist is authorized to treat rainwater or repair rainwater harvesting systems.
H.B. 2170 (E. Rodriquez) – Emergency Services District: would provide that an annexation plan that includes the annexation of territory of an emergency services district may provide that the required fire and police protection and emergency medical services in the area of the district be provided by the district or by cooperation of the city and the district.
H.B. 2171 (E. Rodriguez) – Emergency Services District: would clarify current law to require that a city must provide an emergency services district written notice of removal of territory from the district only if the city intends to be the sole provider of emergency services to the territory.
H.B. 2181 (Stephenson) – Economic Development Corporations: would provide that a proper project to be funded by an economic development corporation (EDC) would include primary job training facilities or programs, including expenditures for training equipment at: (1) a public junior college, public technical institute, or high school located in the authorizing municipality of an EDC; and (2) a public junior college the service area of which includes any portion of the authorizing municipality of an EDC.
H.B. 2220 (Wu) – Crafted Precious Metal Dealers: would: (1) authorize a county or city to require a person to obtain a license or permit, and pay a related fee, before engaging in the business of purchasing and selling crafted precious metal in that county or city; and (2) provide that failure to obtain a metal dealer permit or license required by a county or city is a class B misdemeanor. (Companion bill is H.B. 488 by S. Turner.)
H.B. 2272 (Morrison) – Venue Project Election: would amend the required ballot language for an election to approve and finance a municipal or county venue project to read: “impose a new” or “authorize the use of the existing” tax. (Companion bill is S.B. 169 by Hegar.)
S.B. 829 (Huffman) – Property Acquisition/Eminent Domain: would provide that private property acquired through eminent domain or through purchase in connection with an initial offer must be initially used for the public use for which it was acquired. (Companion bill is H.B. 1250 by Frank.)
S.B. 837 (Ellis) – Nuisance Authority: would limit the authority of a city to regulate rubbish to only those situations listed in specific statutes.
S.B. 867 (Paxton) – Special Districts: would provide that most special districts must undertake a self-imposed “sunset process” under which, at least once every three years, the governing body of the special district conducts a comprehensive review of the district to determine whether the district should be continued or dissolved.
S.B. 968 (West) – Public Improvement Districts: this bill is the same as H.B. 1912, above.
S.B. 985 (Zaffirini) – 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. (Companion bill is H.B. 1795 by Isaac.)
S.B. 1028 (Dan Patrick) – Metal Dealers: would provide that a crafted precious metal dealer’s failure to obtain a municipal city license or permit is a state law offense.
S.B. 1083 (Rodriguez) – Eminent Domain: this bill is the same as H.B. 1874, above.
S.B. 1084 (Hinojosa) – Enterprise Zones: would, among other things: (1) provide that a veteran is a “qualified employee” for purposes of the enterprise zone program; (2) provide that the Texas Economic Development Bank may not designate more than ten projects in each of the application rounds during the biennium, except to designate an enterprise project of qualified business considered by the office to be a state priority project; (3) authorize the Texas Economic Development Bank to split the designation level of a proposed project based on the number of projected new permanent jobs or retained jobs; and (4) provide that state and federally-mandated capital investments, including pollution control abatement equipment, do not qualify as committed capital investment in an enterprise project.
H.B. 1914 (Cortez) – Unemployment Compensation: would, if an employer does not provide adequate documentation within a specified time, require the Unemployment Compensation Commission to charge an employer, including a city, for unemployment payments made to an individual, even if the decision to make the payments is later overturned.
H.B. 1925 (J. Davis) – 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 Workforce Commission to notify a city or other governmental entity of non-compliant employers. (Companion bill is S.B. 676 by Carona.)
H.B. 1939 (Orr) – Veteran Employment: would require a public entity to give an interview to any applicant that is eligible for a veteran’s employment preference.
H.B. 1980 (Parker) – Political Contributions: would require: (1) that any contribution given by an employee to the political committee of a labor organization or corporation be given separately and documented separately from any dues the employee pays; and (2) an employer to document separately any deduction taken from an employee’s wages for a political committee of a labor organization or corporation.
H.B. 2015 (J. Davis) – Personnel: would: (1) require the Texas Workforce Commission to adopt rules requiring a person who contracts with a governmental entity, including a city, to properly classify its employees as either employees or independent contractors; and (2) include a penalty for those who do not comply with the commission’s rules.
H.B. 2301 (G. Bonnen) – E-Verify: would: (1) require a governmental entity, including a city, to use E-verify to verify each employee’s immigration status; (2) require the immediate termination of a city employee in charge of verifying employee status who fails to comply with the e-verify regulations; and (3) require a city to suspend the license of any private employer who hires individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States.
H.B. 1768 (Canales) – Fire Hydrants and Flush Valves: would modify the provision in current law providing that an entity that owns a fire hydrant or similar device shall paint it black if it is nonfunctioning or otherwise unavailable for use by an entity providing fire suppression services in a fire emergency by: (1) defining a “hydrant” as a fire hydrant or a metal flush valve that has the appearance of a fire hydrant and is located in a place that an entity responsible for providing fire suppression services in a fire emergency would expect a fire hydrant to typically be located; (2) providing that each public water system responsible for any hydrant shall: (a) paint all or the cap of the hydrant white if the hydrant is available to be used only to fill a water tank on a fire truck used for fire suppression services; and (b) paint all or the cap of the hydrant black if the hydrant is unavailable for use by the entity providing fire suppression services in a fire emergency; (3) providing that a hydrant is “unavailable for use in a fire emergency” if it is unavailable for pumping directly from the hydrant or is unavailable for use in filling a water tank on a fire truck used for fire suppression services; (4) allowing a public water system to place a black tarp over the hydrant or use another means to conceal the hydrant instead of painting all or the cap of the hydrant black if the hydrant is temporarily unavailable for use in a fire emergency for a period not to exceed 45 days; (5) providing that, not later than the 45th day after the date a hydrant is concealed in the manner allowed by (4), above, the public water system responsible for the hydrant shall paint all or the cap of the hydrant black if it continues to be unavailable for use in a fire emergency; (6) providing that a hydrant is considered to be unavailable for use by an entity responsible for providing fire suppression services in a fire emergency if: (a) the public water system is not obligated by ordinance, regulation, or contract to provide water for fire suppression services and elects not to provide water for those services; or (b) the hydrant delivered less than 50 gallons of water per minute during its most recent flow test under normal conditions; (7) stating that the fact that all or the cap of a hydrant for which a public water system is responsible under this section is not painted black does not constitute a guarantee by the public water system that the hydrant will deliver a certain amount of water flow at all times; (8) exempting a public water system from liability for a hydrant’s inability to provide adequate water supply in a fire emergency; (9) providing that the bill does not apply within the jurisdiction of a governmental entity that maintains its own system for labeling or color coding its hydrants; and (10) limiting the application of the law as amended by the bill to certain counties in the Rio Grande Valley.
H.B. 1849 (Carter) – Felony Forfeiture Funds: would: (1) provide that forfeiture funds received by a law enforcement agency can be used solely for a “law enforcement purpose,” which is defined to mean an expenditure made for an activity of a law enforcement agency that relates to the criminal and civil enforcement of the laws of this state, including an expenditure made for: (a) salary and overtime of employees; (b) equipment, including vehicles, computers, firearms, protective body armor, furniture, software, uniforms, and maintenance equipment; (c) supplies, including office supplies, mobile phone and data account fees for employees, and Internet services; (d) investigative and training-related travel expenses, including payment for hotel rooms, airfare, meals, rental of and fuel for a motor vehicle, and parking; (e) conferences and training expenses, including fees and materials; (f) investigative costs, including payments to informants and lab expenses; (g) crime prevention and treatment programs; (h) facility costs, including building purchase, lease payments, remodeling and renovating, maintenance, and utilities; (i) witness-related costs, including travel and security; and (j) audit costs and fees, including audit preparation and professional fees; (2) require that a law enforcement agency audit of forfeiture funds be performed annually by the auditor of the agency, the political subdivision, or the attorney representing the state, as appropriate, or an accounting professional under contract for the purpose of complying with the audit requirement; and (3) authorize the attorney general to adopt a secure process for electronically completing, verifying, and submitting the audit described in (2), above. (Companion bill is S.B. 878 by Patrick.)
H.B. 1856 (Burkett) – Warrantless Apprehension: would require a police officer to transport an arrested person to a medical facility if the person suffers from certain conditions or injuries.
H.B. 1858 (Workman) – Tree or Vegetation Removal: would provide that a city, county, or other political subdivision may not enact or enforce any ordinance, rule, or other regulation that restricts the ability of a property owner to remove a tree or vegetation on the owner’s property that the owner believes poses a risk of fire to a structure on the property or adjacent property.
H.B. 1872 (Simmons) – Firearms: would provide that a person who voluntarily identifies himself to the Department of Public Safety or a local law enforcement agency as a person with mental illness can be precluded from possessing a firearm.
H.B. 1896 (P. King) – Concealed Handguns: would: (1) authorize a school district or open-enrollment charter school to adopt written regulations that authorize an employee who has successfully completed a firearms training program described by the bill to carry or possess a handgun on the physical premises of a school, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle of a school; (2) provide that the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education conduct the training program and shall issue a certification to each person the commission determines has successfully completed the training program; and (3) provide that the commission shall submit, for each person issued a certification, the name and date of birth of the person, the person’s concealed handgun license number, and the address of the person’s place of employment to various entities, including the chief law enforcement officer of the local municipal law enforcement agency if the person is employed at a campus of a school district or open-enrollment charter school located within a city.
H.B. 1927 (Menendez) – Texas Military: would: (1) change the department responsible for Texas military affairs from Adjutant General’s Office to the Texas Military Department; 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 could not be reached. (Duplicate bill is H.B. 1542 by Flynn.)
H.B. 1931 (Guillen) – Sale of Abandoned Vehicle: would allow an attorney representing the state, defined as a district attorney, criminal district attorney, or county attorney, to use funds transferred from a city or county’s general fund to property owners whose property was damaged as a result of a pursuit involving a law enforcement agency.
H.B. 1951 (S. Thompson) – Telecommunicators: would: (1) give the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) additional authority over telecommunicators (essentially a 911 dispatcher and defined as “a person acknowledged by TCLEOSE and employed by or serving a law enforcement agency that performs law enforcement services on a 24-hour basis who receives, processes, and transmits public safety information and criminal justice data for the agency by using a base radio station on a public safety frequency”); (2) require that any telecommunicator hired by a city be licensed by TCLEOSE; (3) require a city to provide 40 hours of training to telecommunicators every 2 years; and (4) give current telecommunicators one year to obtain a license.
H.B. 1960 (Cortez) – Emergency Medical Services Personnel: would grant state EMS certification to EMS personnel certified by the U.S. military.
H.B. 1961 (S. Turner) – Law Enforcement: would adopt the Law Enforcement Officers’ Due Process Act, which includes provisions that: (1) limit the way in which a city may conduct a disciplinary investigation or question a peace officer; (2) limit the times and places that a peace officer may be questioned; (3) provide right to counsel to a peace officer under investigation or questioning; (4) give a right to access to documents related to the investigation to peace officers being investigated; (5) require the employing city to give a notice of investigation or questioning within a specific period of time; (6) provide for hearing procedures for peace officer investigations and the resulting employment action; (7) require a written or taped record of any proceedings; and (8) prohibit an officer from engaging in political activity while on duty or in uniform.
H.B. 1972 (Kleinschmidt) – 9-1-1 Service: would provide that a service provider of communications service, a manufacturer of equipment used, a developer of software, a third party or other entity involved in providing 9-1-1 service, or an officer, director, or employee of the provider, manufacturer, developer, third party, or other entity involved in providing 9-1-1 service is not liable for any claim, damage, or loss arising from the provision of 9-1-1 service, unless the act or omission proximately causing the claim, damage, or loss constitutes gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
H.B. 1993 (Guillen) – Firearms: would: (1) provide that a person commits an offense if the person, while hunting or engaging in recreational shooting, knowingly discharges a firearm and the projectile from the firearm travels across the property line of an educational facility; and (2) make an offense under (1), above, a class C Parks and Wildlife misdemeanor unless it is shown that students were present, which elevates the offense to a class A Parks and Wildlife misdemeanor.
H.B. 2045 (Turner) – Controlled Substances: would reduce the penalty for the offenses of manufacture, delivery, or possession of a Penalty 1 group controlled substance if the amount of the controlled substance is less than one gram, from a State Jail Felony to a Class C misdemeanor.
H.B. 2053 (Phillips) – Municipal Jails: would authorize a county with a population of 10,000 or less to contract with a city to hold a county prisoner in a city jail for a period not to exceed 72 hours.
H.B. 2063 (Gooden) – Handguns: would provide, among other things, that a municipal attorney who holds a concealed handgun license may, either in a concealed or open manner, carry a handgun in most places.
H.B. 2083 (Workman) – 9-1-1 Fees: would provide that: (1) fees collected to support 9-1-1 service shall be appropriated and used for the purpose for which they were collected; (2) the comptroller shall not divert these funds for any other purpose nor shall these funds be allowed to accumulate to an amount greater than ten percent of the estimated annual collection; (3) the Commission on Emergency Communications shall distribute funds to the regional planning commissions in proportion to the geographic region in which they were collected; and (4) the comptroller shall deposit funds previously collected into the general revenue fund of the state, except that the comptroller shall leave within the account an amount equal to ten percent of the estimated revenues for the 2014-2015 biennium.
H.B. 2090 (Canales) – Custodial Interrogation: would permit written confessions in different languages.
H.B. 2113 (Raymond) – Cottage Food: would prohibit a cottage food production operation from using in a cottage food product an ingredient that is not intended for human consumption, including an edible decoration.
H.B. 2131 (Dutton) – DWI: would allow the commissioners court of a county or the governing body of a city to create a “Direct Intervention using Voluntary Education, Restitution, and Treatment,” or DIVERT program for certain first-time DWI offenders.
H.B. 2164 (Eiland) – Emergency Management: would: (1) allow a city to delegate authority to an officer of the city, including the city manager, during a disaster; and (2) prohibit delegation of authority that is given exclusively to the governing body or official by the Texas Constitution.
H.B. 2186 (Workman) – Detention of Person with Mental Illness: would authorize a mental health facility, certain hospitals, and certain freestanding emergency medical care facilities that examine or treat a person who requests treatment from the facility to detain the person for four hours if the person tries to leave the facility before the exam or treatment is complete and the facility has reason to believe the person has a mental illness, there is a substantial risk that the person will harm himself or others, and there is not sufficient time to file an application for emergency detention or order for protective custody.
H.B. 2187 (Krause) – Law Enforcement: would require a law enforcement agency, including a police department, to: (1) verify the immigration status of an arrested person within 48 hours and before the person can be released on bond using the federal Secure Communities program or from another law enforcement officer who is authorized to verify immigration status, unless the person’s status has already been determined by another agency from which the individual was transferred; (2) notify the judge authorized to rule on the person’s release if information reveals the person is unlawfully present in the United States; and (3) detain the person as required by the immigration detainer.
H.B. 2221 (Wu) – Citations Issued on School Property: would require the superintendent of a school district to demonstrate compliance with the Civil Rights Act by sending a compliance report on the total number of criminal citations issued to the United State Department of Education every school year.
H.B. 2225 (McClendon) –Pedestrian Safety: would: (1) require a driver to operate a car safely around pedestrians and others who are not in vehicles; and (2) increase the penalties for violations of this section if the violation results in property damage or personal injury.
H.B. 2227 (Wu) – Search Warrants: would: (1) allow a sworn statement to be provided to a magistrate by telephone or other appropriate means; (2) require a magistrate to fully document a sworn affidavit provided by telephone; and (3) allow a magistrate to electronically record any statement communicated orally.
H.B. 2268 (Frullo) – Search Warrants: would modify the provisions in state law relating to search warrants issued in this state and other states for certain customer data, communications, and other information held in electronic storage in this state and other states by providers of electronic communications services and remote computing services. (Companion bill is S.B. 1052 by Carona.)
H.B. 2297 (Naishtat) – 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.)(Companion bill is S.B. 761 by Lucio.)
H.B. 2310 (Zedler) – Wire Taps: would expand the allowable felony offenses for which a judge can order a wire type if the prosecutor shows probable cause to believe the interception will provide evidence of the commission of such a felony.
S.B. 767 (Patrick) – DNA Records: would require an individual convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any offense punishable as a class B misdemeanor or higher to provide one or more DNA samples for the purpose of creating a DNA record. (Companion bill is H.B. 1063 by Hernandez Luna.)
S.B. 861 (Davis) – Alcohol Permit Holders: would require notice of DWI penalties to be posted on the premises of certain alcoholic beverage retailers.
S.B. 878 (Patrick) – Felony Forfeiture Funds: this bill is the same as H.B. 1849, above.
S.B. 884 (West) – Metal Recycling Facilities: would, among other things: (1) establish a general class C misdemeanor penalty for violating laws, including a city ordinance, related to metal recycling facilities; and (2) provide that if the conduct constitutes an offense under certain other state laws then the person must be prosecuted under those laws rather than the general penalty described in (1), above.
S.B. 897 (Estes) – Documenting Police Activity: would create a civil cause of action against a governmental unit that employed any police officer who accused a person of certain obstruction offenses of which the person was acquitted, if the person shows by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) the person was filming, recording, photographing, documenting, or observing the officer and (2) the officer’s accusation was made in retaliation for the person’s act of filming, recording, photographing, or observing the officer.
S.B. 955 (Schwertner) – Mental Health Training: would require the Department of State Health Services, if money is available, to provide grants to local mental health authorities to provide mental health training to train its own employees and educators.
S.B. 965 (Williams) – Police Termination Reports: would: (1) provide that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education may change a police termination report (F5 report) instead of requiring the police chief to do so; and (2) repeal the penalty against a police chief who does not change a termination report.
S.B. 969 (West) – Custodial Interrogation: would require that written confessions must be videotaped.
S.B. 970 (Huffman) – DNA Specimen: would provide that a warrant issued to collect a DNA specimen for the purpose of connecting a person to an offense may be executed in any county in the state, regardless of whether the issuing court’s jurisdiction extends outside the county in which that court is located.
S.B. 987 (Hegar) – Gun Regulation: would require the attorney general to file suit against a city or county who regulates firearms or sport shooting ranges in a way that is contrary to certain state laws.
S.B. 1010 (Taylor) – Search and Rescue Dogs: would: (1) prohibit the owner, manager, or operator or an employee or agent of the owner, manager, or operator of a public facility from denying a search and rescue dog or the dog’s handler admittance because of the presence of the dog; (2) prohibit the owner, manager, or operator or an employee or agent of the owner, manager, or operator of a common carrier plan, train, bus, streetcar, boat, or other public conveyance or mode of transportation from: (a) refusing to accept as a passenger a search and rescue dog or the dog’s handler; and (b) requiring the dog’s handler to pay an additional fare because of the search and rescue dog; (3) prohibit a public facility from adopting a policy that prohibits the use of the facility by a search and rescue dog or the dog’s handler; (4) provide that a search and rescue dog’s handler is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or compensation in this state, subject to any condition or limit established by law that applies to all persons, except that a handler may not be required to pay an extra fee or charge or security deposit for the search and rescue dog; (5) provide penalties for discrimination against a search and rescue dog and the dog’s handler; (6) allow a person to maintain a civil cause of action against a handler for personal injury, property damage, or death resulting from the failure of the handler to properly harness or leash the dog; (7) make a handler liable for property damage caused by a search and rescue dog to a public facility or housing accommodation; (8) waive immunity from suit and liability of a governmental entity owning a search and rescue dog or employing the dog’s handler for liability described in (6) and (7), above; and (9) authorize a person to ask a search and rescue dog handler to display proof that the handler is a peace officer, firefighter, or member of a state or nationally-recognized search and rescue agency. (Companion bill is H.B. 1200 by Taylor.)
S.B. 1025 (Seliger) – Concealed Handguns: would provide that a city may allow a concealed handgun license holder to carry in a public meeting pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the city.
S.B. 1052 (Carona) – Search Warrants: this bill is the same as H.B. 2268, above.
UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT
H.B. 1863 (Wu) – Railroad Commission Fines: would increase the maximum amount of various civil penalties issued by the Railroad Commission for a violation of pipeline safety or pollution rules. (Companion bill is S.B. 900 by Fraser.)
H.B. 1900 (Eiland) – Cable Television Tax Exemption: would provide an exemption from the state sales tax for the first $75 of a cable television bill if the provider is paying a franchise fee to a city pursuant to a state-issued certificate of franchise authority.
H.B. 1910 (W. Smith) – Recycling: would: (1) prohibit a person who is in the business of recycling and who purchases a plastic bulk merchandise container from an individual from purchasing the container with cash, unless the person verifies that the individual is acting on behalf of a corporation, business, government, or governmental subdivision or agency; (2) require a record of the method of payment for each transaction; and (3) provide for a civil penalty for a violation.
H.B. 1973 (Lucio) – Fire Flow: would provide that: (1) a city may adopt standards that require an investor-owned utility or a water supply or sewer service corporation to install fire hydrants and to maintain sufficient water pressure for service to fire hydrants adequate to protect public safety in the city and the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction; (2) the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality shall assess areas in a city and the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction that are subject to a standard adopted under the bill to ensure that all investor-owned utilities and water supply or sewer service corporations serving the municipal area are complying with the standards; and (3) the commission shall require a city acting as a regulatory authority to make appropriate revisions to standards the commission considers to be inadequate within a reasonable time established by the commission.
H.B. 1986 (Perry) – Liquefied Petroleum Gas: would provide that the rules adopted by the Railroad Commission relating to liquefied petroleum gas do not preempt or supersede any ordinance, order, or rule adopted by a political subdivision of this state relating to any aspect or phase of the liquefied petroleum gas industry.
H.B. 1963 (S. Turner) – Public Utility Commissioner: would provide that the Public Utility Commission (PUC) consists of one elected commissioner and his or her appointed deputy commissioner. (Note: Currently, the PUC is composed of three appointed commissioners.)
H.B. 2026 (Sanford) – Renewable Energy: would repeal that state’s goals for renewable energy.
H.B. 2082 (Ritter) – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: would: (1) allow an interested person who filed a comment on certain permit applications or participated in a public hearing on the permit application at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to file a petition for administrative review of the permit decision by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH); (2) allow SOAH to grant the petition only if the petitioner demonstrates: (a) a finding of fact or conclusion of law is clearly erroneous; or (b) there is an exercise of discretion or an important policy consideration that SOAH should review; (3) allow for the filing of amicus briefs from interested persons; (4) specify that judicial review of SOAH decisions go to the Austin Court of Appeals; (5) establish an environmental quality division at SOAH to perform contested case hearings and administrative review of certain permit decision for TCEQ; (6) allow an interested person to request a public hearing after a preliminary decision has been issued on an application for a permit, permit renewal, or permit amendment for certain specified permits; (7) obligate an interested person to raise all reasonably ascertainable issues and submit all reasonably available arguments supporting the person’s position on the preliminary decision before the close of the public comment period; and (8) require the TCEQ executive director, after approval, to prepare a draft permit that includes the findings of fact and conclusions of law that support the issuance of the draft permit. (Companion bill is S.B. 957 by Fraser.)
H.B. 2089 (Herrero) – Municipal Electric Utilities: relates to the powers and duties of the General Land Office, including the abolition of the Texas Facilities Commission and the transfer of its duties to the General Land Office. Of particular interest to cities, the bill would provide that: (1) the Land Commissioner may, under the State Energy Marketing Program, sell or otherwise convey power or natural gas generated directly to a state facility, including a state facility in the certificated service area of a municipally owned utility or an electric cooperative; (2) in providing electricity to a state facility under the State Energy Marketing Program, the Land Commissioner is entitled to nondiscriminatory access to the transmission and distribution system for the certificated service area in which the customer is located, including the certificated service area of a municipally owned utility or an electric cooperative; (3) a municipally owned utility or an electric cooperative may continue to bill directly a state facility only if the utility opts into electric deregulation; (4) if requested by the Land Commissioner, metering and billing services shall be performed by the transmission and distribution utility, municipally owned utility, or electric cooperative in whose certificated service area the state facility is located; (5) the authority of the Land Commissioner to provide electricity to a state facility under the bill does not constitute the introduction of customer choice in the certificated service area of a municipally owned utility or electric cooperative; and (6) the General Land Office may lease any amount of space in a state-owned building to a private tenant for use as private office space.
H.B. 2120 (Taylor) – Reservoirs: would: (1) require an application for the construction of a storage reservoir to include a draft permit authorizing the construction of the reservoir; (2) require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to grant or deny an application for a permit to construct a storage reservoir within 180 days; and (3) consider the application granted and the draft permit included in the application issued if the commission does not grant or deny the application within the required 180 days.
H.B. 2121 (Taylor) – Interbasin Transfers: would: (1) require an application for an interbasin transfer to include a draft water right or amendment to a permit, certified filing, or certificate of adjudication authorizing the transfer; (2) require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to grant or deny an application for an interbasin transfer within 180 days; and (3) consider the application granted and the draft water right or amendment included in the application issued if the commission does not grant or deny the application within the required 180 days.
H.B. 2122 (Anchia) – Railroad Commission: would require the Railroad Commission to post on its Internet website comprehensive information regarding the commission’s enforcement of certain rules, orders, licenses, permits, and certificates issued.
H.B. 2142 (Frullo) – Water Conservation Advisory Council: would require that the Water Conservation Advisory Council’s report to the legislature include specific statutory, budgetary, and policy recommendations to improve water conservation and management.
H.B. 2143 (Frullo) – Water Conservation Advisory Council: would require the Water Conservation Advisory council to evaluate new technologies for possible inclusion in the best management practice guide, including technologies associated with agricultural and landscaping irrigation, plumbing retrofits, and hydraulic shock-prevention systems.
H.B. 2152 (Callegari) – Water Rates: would prohibit a municipally owned utility from assessing fees on recreational vehicle parks that would not otherwise apply to any other commercial businesses.
H.B. 2156 (Callegari) – Water Service: would provide that: (1) while a city may impose city taxes and franchise fees on a retail public utility (including another city, a water supply corporation, or an investor owned utility) operating in the boundaries of the city, it may not by franchise agreement, limit, restrict, regulate, or prevent a retail public utility’s extension of service or operation of facilities; and (2) except as expressly authorized by state law, a city may not regulate a retail public utility, including any zoning or subdivision regulation adopted by the municipality under Local Government Code Chapters 211 or 212; and (3) a retail public utility may, the sole discretion of the retail public utility, locate the retail public utility’s facilities at any location whatsoever.
H.B. 2157 (Gutierrez) – Irrigation Systems: would make it a Class C misdemeanor for a person to maintain or repair an irrigation system without holding a license.
H.B. 2166 (D. Bonnen) – Railroad Commission: this is the Texas Railroad Commission sunset bill. Of particular interest to cities, the bill would provide that: (1) the agency is renamed as the Texas Energy Commission and continued in existence until 2023; (2) the commission is composed of three commissioners elected for six-year terms at the general election for state and county officers; (3) the commission shall adopt guidelines, after public input, to be used in determining the amount of administrative penalties issued by the commission; (4) the guidelines adopted under (3), above, must provide for different penalties for different violations based on the seriousness of the violation and any hazard to the health or safety of the public resulting from the violation; (5) the commission by rule may establish pipeline safety and regulatory fees to be assessed for permits or registrations for pipelines under the jurisdiction of the commission’s pipeline safety and regulatory program; and (6) the commission shall adopt rules that include safety standards related to the prevention of damage to interstate and intrastate hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide pipeline facilities resulting from the movement of earth by a person in the vicinity of such a facility, other than movement by tillage that does not exceed a depth of 16 inches. (Companion bill is S.B. 212 by Nichols.)
H.B. 2179 (J. Davis) – Backflow Prevention: would require an individual to have a certificate from the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners to engage in the repair or testing of a backflow prevention assembly.
H.B. 2237 (Isaac) – Rate Cases: would, if a local regulatory authority holds a hearing on rates and a water and sewer utility fails to appear at or fully participate in that hearing, prohibit a regulatory authority from including for ratemaking purposes any rate case expenses incurred by a water and sewer utility in a contested proceeding or appeal.
H.B. 2265 (Dukes) – Propane Utilities: would include a propane utility under the definition of “gas utility” in the Public Utility Regulatory Act, thereby making the propane utility subject to, among other things, the jurisdiction of a city and/or the Railroad Commission.
H.B. 2277 (Crownover) – Hydraulic Fracturing: would provide that a pit used to store flowback or produced water from an oil or gas well on which a hydraulic fracturing treatment has been performed is not required to be lined if the fluid stored in the pit is of a quality that meets or exceeds the quality of the water that was used in the hydraulic fracturing treatment.
H.B. 2290 (Lozano) – Supplemental Environmental Projects: would allow a local government that receives money to implement a supplemental environmental project from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to retain up to ten percent of the amount received for administrative costs associated with implementing the project.
H.B. 2292 (Gonzalez) – TCEQ Permits: would require an applicant for certain Texas Commission on Environmental Quality permits to mail notice of intent to obtain a permit to each owner or occupant of real property located five miles or less from the facility that is the subject of the permit.
H.B. 2332 (Bell) – Pipeline Safety: would provide that an operator who fails to properly mark its underground facilities is liable for: (1) three times the amount of actual damages, including damages incurred by an excavator for damage to equipment or costs of project delays and damages incurred by a third party caused by the excavator in reliance on the operator’s presumed compliance; and (2) reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
S.B. 212 (Nichols) – Railroad Commission: this bill is the same as H.B. 2166, above.
S.B. 873 (Hegar) – Drilling Permits: would prohibit a groundwater conservation district from providing an exemption to the district’s requirement to obtain a permit for a water well used to supply water for the performance of hydraulic fracturing or other activities related to the production of oil or gas.
S.B. 875 (Eltiffe) – Recycling: Companion bill is H.B. 1910, above.
S.B. 885 (Hinojosa) – 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 the customer’s e-mail address is available to the utility. (Companion bill is H.B. 1488 by Harper Brown.)
S.B. 900 (Fraser) – Railroad Commission Fines: this bill is the same as H.B. 1863, above.
S.B. 901 (Fraser) – 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. (Companion bill is H.B. 1792 by Paddie.)
S.B. 902 (Fraser) – Water Districts: would make numerous changes to the laws that affect water districts. Of particular interest to cities, the bill would provide that: (1) a city may enter into a contract with a water district or with a non-profit water supply corporation under which the district or corporation will acquire for the benefit of and convey to the city, either separately or together, one or more water, sewer, drainage, or road projects; (2) that the contract under (1), above, may provide that any payments due are payable from and are secured by a pledge of a specified part of the revenues of the city, including revenues from municipal sales and use taxes; (3) a peace officer contracted for by a water district, individually or through a county, sheriff, constable, or city, is an independent contractor, and the district is responsible for the acts or omissions of the peace officer only to the extent provided by law for other independent contractors; (4) a water district providing potable water or sewer service to household users may, separately or jointly with another district, city, or other political subdivision, establish, operate, and maintain, finance with ad valorem taxes, mandatory fees, or voluntary contributions, and issue bonds for a fire department to perform all fire-fighting services within the district and may provide for the construction and purchase of necessary buildings, facilities, land, and equipment and the provision of an adequate water supply; and (5) a city may provide in its written consent for the inclusion of land in a district that is initially located wholly or partly outside the corporate limits of the city that a contract (“allocation agreement”) between the district and the city be entered into prior to the first issue of bonds, notes, warrants, or other obligations of the district. (Note: Any city in an area with water districts should carefully review the provisions of this bill to determine its impact on the city’s relationship with those districts.) (Companion bill is H.B. 168 by Callegari.)
S.B. 923 (Hinojosa) – State Tax on Water: would: (1) require each retail public utility, which includes a city, to collect a water usage fee of three cents for each 1,000 gallons of water sold to the ultimate consumer each month; (2) require a $1 surcharge for each 1,000 gallons in excess of 12,000 gallons from an ultimate consumer if the consumer is a resident of a single-family dwelling or a dwelling until of a multifamily dwelling; (3) exempt the following entities from the fee or surcharge: (a) the United States, (b) an instrumentality of the United States, (c) a corporation that is an agency or instrumentality of the United States, (d) the State of Texas, (e) a county, city, special district, or other political subdivision of Texas, (f) a state, or a governmental unit of a state that borders this state, (g) an organization created for religious, educational, or charitable purposes, (h) an organization qualifying for an exemption from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3), (i) a nonprofit organization engaged exclusively in providing athletic competition among persons under 19 years old if no financial benefit goes to an individual or shareholder; (j) a company, department, or association organized for the purpose of answering fire alarms and extinguishing fires or for the purpose of answering fire alarms, extinguishing fires, and providing emergency medical services, and (k) a chamber of commerce or a convention and tourist promotional agency representing at least one Texas city or county if the chamber of commerce or the agency is not organized for profit; (4) require the utility to pay the comptroller the total amount of the fees and surcharge collected each month; (5) allow a utility that makes timely payment to the comptroller to retain one-half of one percent of the total amount of the fees and surcharges; (6) require a utility to submit a monthly report to the comptroller on water sold; (7) require that the revenue collected by the comptroller be deposited to the state water plan fund; (8) establish the state water plan fund to be used for financing projects included in the state water plan; and (9) allow amounts from the state water plan fund to be transferred to various other funds for water infrastructure projects.
S.B. 941 (Davis) – Oil and Gas Industry: would provide that the Railroad Commission shall adopt rules relating to the exploration for and production of gas in the unincorporated areas of Dallas and Tarrant counties that must promote gas exploration and production while securing the quality of life and existing economic interests, including property values and development plans, in the unincorporated areas of the counties.
S.B. 942 (Davis) – Oil and Gas Industry: would provide that certain penalties levied against an oil or gas company are deposited into a new Railroad Commission of Texas Operating Account to be used only for the operation of the Railroad Commission.
S.B. 957 (Fraser) – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: this bill is the same as H.B. 2082, above.
S.B. 958 (Fraser) – Water Districts and Authorities: would provide that a local water district or water authority that enters into a written contract to provide water to a purchaser for use in connection with the generation of electricity waives sovereign immunity to suit for the purpose of adjudicating a claim that the local district or authority breached the contract by not providing water, or access to water, according to the contract’s terms.
S.B. 981 (Van de Putte) – Municipal Electric Utility Discounts: would provide that the governing body of a municipally owned utility may establish a bill payment assistance program for a customer who is a military veteran who a medical doctor certifies has a significantly decreased ability to regulate the individual’s body temperature because of severe burns received in combat.
S.B. 1039 (Rodriguez) – Water Conservation Advisory Council: would require that the Water Conservation Advisory Council’s report to the legislature include specific recommendations to improve water conservation and management.
S.B. 1063 (Hegar) – Public Facility Corporations: would provide that natural gas purchased by a public facility corporation for resale to a local government under an interlocal cooperation contract is considered a public facility for the purposes of this chapter.
H.B. 1878 (McClendon) – Transportation Funding: would provide that a certain portion of the motor vehicle sales tax be deposited to the credit of the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund.
H.B. 1949 (Gutierrez) – Speed Limits: would authorize the Texas Transportation Commission to establish a speed limit of 85 miles per hour on a part of the state highway system if: (1) that part of the highway system is designed to accommodate travel at that established speed or a higher speed; and (2) the commission determines, after an engineering and traffic investigation, that the established speed limit is reasonable and safe for that part of the highway system.
H.B. 2043 (Pickett) – Transportation Funding: would provide that: (1) debt obligations for state transportation needs may not be issued after January 1, 2013; and (2) the Texas Mobility Fund may be used to repay the principal and interest on bonds that have already been issued for state transportation needs.
H.B. 2101 (Guillen) – Travel Information Centers: would provide that: (1) the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) may: (a) transfer to a local government the operation of a travel information center located in the local government’s boundaries; or (b) issue a request for proposals to private and nonprofit entities for the operation of a travel information center; and (2) TxDOT may maintain and operate the center as a rest area without staff if: (a) a local government does not assume the operation of a center; or (b) none of the private offers to its request for proposals acceptable.
H.B. 2144 (Riddle) – Vehicle Registration Fees: would increase the state’s motor vehicle registration fees and provide that one dollar of the increased amount be deposited in the state’s general revenue fund and the remaining amount be used to fund the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
H.B. 2148 (Hilderbran) – Transportation Funding: would, among other things; (1) impose a state motor fuels tax on the sale of compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas that is delivered into the fuel supply tank of a motor vehicle; (2) provide for certain exemptions, not including city vehicles, and refunds of the tax; and (3) provide that three-fourths of the tax shall be deposited to the credit of the state highway fund.
H.B. 2202 (Pickett) – Vehicle Registration Fees: would provide that certain amounts of the state’s motor vehicle registration fees be deposited in the state’s general revenue fund, certain amounts be deposited in the state highway fund, and certain amounts be used to fund the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
H.B. 2204 (Pickett) – Speed Limits: would: (1) authorize the Texas Transportation Commission by rule to establish a variable speed limit program to allow the temporary lowering of a prima facie speed limit to address inclement weather, congestion, construction, or other condition that affects the safe and orderly movement of traffic on a roadway; (2) provide that a speed limit established under (1), above, may be displayed on a stationary or portable changeable message sign; and (3) provide that a speed limit established under (1), above, be based on an engineering and traffic investigation, be effective for all or a designated portion of the highway for any period of the day or night, and be effective only when the speed limit is posted on a sign not less than 500 feet but not more than 1,000 feet before the point at which the speed limit begins.
H.B. 2244 (Harper-Brown) – Billboards: would provide that a city must pay just compensation to a billboard owner and a landowner who leases property to a billboard owner if a billboard has to be removed from a city or a city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction because: (1) of the widening, construction, or reconstruction of a highway that is part of a state highway project; and (2) it cannot be moved to another place in the city because of a city ordinance or regulation.
H.B. 2278 (Phillips) – Transportation Funding: would provide that the amount of the proceeds from the collection of the taxes imposed on the sale, storage, or use of new and used motor vehicle tires and new and used motor vehicle parts shall be deposited to the credit of the state highway fund.
H.B. 2316 (Pickett) – Transportation Funding: would provide for the imposition of an additional motor vehicle registration fee in the amount of $50 to be deposited into the Texas Mobility Fund.
H.B. 2333 (Bell) – Transportation Funding: would provide that motor vehicle title application fees shall be deposited to the credit of the Texas Mobility Fund
H.J.R. 107 (Pickett) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that the legislature may impose an additional motor vehicle registration fee, the revenue from which shall be deposited to the credit of the Texas Mobility Fund.
H.J.R. 108 (Phillips) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that certain revenues from motor vehicle registration fees, taxes on motor fuels and lubricants and motor vehicle tires and parts, and certain revenues received from the federal government may be used only to construct and maintain highways.