CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED
H.B. 8 (Otto) – Property Tax: would change the frequency of the comptroller’s property value study of each appraisal district from annually to biennially, and would provide for biennial review of appraisal district methodologies.
H.B. 2312 (Gattis) – Economic Development: would: (1) create a “Rural Economic Development and Investment Program” (the Program) within the Department of Agriculture; (2) provide that the Program may give financial economic development assistance to cities under 50,000 population; (3) provide that assistance given to cities under the Program is for any activity relating to attracting economic development or that would encourage infrastructure development in the city; and (4) permit the Agriculture Commission to extend credit to cities.
H.B. 2315 (Patrick) – Vacant Buildings: would provide that: (1) a city by ordinance may assess a fee on a vacant commercial building that is not owned by a governmental entity; (2) the city may obtain a lien against a property on which a fee is assessed under the bill unless the property is designated as homestead property; and (3) a fee assessed under the bill may be used only to abate a violation of certain municipal ordinances.
H.B. 2325 (Raymond) – Eight-Liners: would: (1) require a county to conduct an election upon proper petition by the voters of a city to determine whether the operation of eight-liners should be legalized or prohibited within the city; (2) if eight-liners are legalized, require that a fee of $250 per year be assessed for each eight-liner in the city; and (3) require the state comptroller to deposit 30 percent of each fee collected into the state’s general revenue fund with the remainder of the fee going to the city. (Note: please see H.J.R. 79, below.)
H.B. 2333 (Geren) – Oil and Gas: would authorize a city to lease a street, alley, or public square for oil, gas, or mineral extraction if the lease prohibits the lessee from using the surface of the land. H.B. 2335 (Heflin) – Elections: would prohibit a city from charging a fee for the issuance of a document that may be presented as proof of identification at a polling place.
H.B. 2336 (Truitt) – Public Funds Investment: would permit a city to invest revenues from oil, gas, and mineral leases in any investment that is legal under the Texas Trust Code. (Companion bill is S.B. 894 by Nelson.)
H.B. 2346 (Thibaut) – Parking: would authorize a city employee to request the towing of a vehicle parked illegally in an area designated as a tow-away zone in a residential area where on-street parking is regulated by municipal ordinance.
H.B. 2355 (Kent) – Procurement: would authorize a city, when purchasing cement, to implement procurement policies that consider the impact of the cement's manufacture on air quality in the city.
H.B. 2357 (Farias) – Defense Adjustment Management Authorities: would provide that: (1) a defense adjustment management authority has the power to approve or deny a proposal to amend a municipal comprehensive plan that affects an area within the authority (Note: a defense adjustment management authority is an entity created by a city to ensure appropriate land uses around an adjacent closed or realigned defense base); (2) the authority board's decision to deny a proposal is final and may not be appealed; and (3) upon annexation of an area of the authority for full purposes by a city, the authority's power under the bill expires.
H.B. 2360 (Farias) – Income Tax Information: would require a city to provide to its employees information on the federal earned income tax credit.
H.B. 2389 (Hernandez) – Court Costs: would: (1) create a $50 court fee for certain intoxication offenses; (2) require a municipal court to send all but $5 of the fee to the state unless the city maintains, or is in a county that maintains, a certified breath alcohol testing program; and (3) require certain counties that maintain certified breath alcohol testing programs to provide the services of a certified technical supervisor to certain cities over 10,000 in population.
H.B. 2396 (C. Turner) – Sex Offenders: would change certain address and residency reporting requirements for registered sex offenders, particularly those who reside at no particular street address. (Note: this bill is the same as H.B. 2153, by Edwards.)
H.B. 2405 (Callegari) – Utilities/Power Outages: would provide that: (1) the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) by rule shall assign each county in the state a level of risk of "low," "moderate," or "high" according to that county's likelihood of experiencing a major disaster; and (2) each retail public utility, including a municipally-owned utility, or provider of wholesale sewer service or potable water service in a county receiving a risk designation of "high" shall submit to TCEQ for its approval a mutual aid agreement with another utility or provider that ensures each utility's continued provision of water and sewer services during an extended power outage.
H.B. 2409 (Farias) – Elections: would require a city calling an election to conduct early voting by personal appearance at the main early voting polling place on at least one Saturday during the early voting period.
H.B. 2420 (McClendon) – Property Tax: would exempt high-speed passenger rail facilities from property taxes. (Note: please see H.J.R. 82, below.) (Companion bill is S.B. 1272 by Carona.)
H.B. 2431 (T. Smith) – Health Benefit Plan Claims: would require health benefit plans, including plans issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, to provide mediation to settle an out-of-network health benefit claim in certain cases.
H.B. 2460 (Harper-Brown) – Property Tax: would extend the religious organization property tax exemption to include vacant parsonages.
H.B. 2489 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would provide that, after certain allocations to the state’s school property tax relief fund, the state sales tax on motor vehicle sales, use, and rentals shall be deposited as follows: (1) in the state fiscal year ending August 31, 2010, 50 percent to the credit of the state highway fund and 50 percent to the credit of the general revenue fund; (2) in the state fiscal year ending August 31, 2011, 67 percent to the credit of the state highway fund and 33 percent to the credit of the general revenue fund; (3) in the state fiscal year ending August 31, 2012, 83 percent to the credit of the state highway fund and seventeen percent to the credit of the general revenue fund; and (4) in state fiscal years ending on or after August 31, 2013, 100 percent to the credit of the state highway fund.
H.B. 2506 (Kolkhorst) – Permit Vesting: would provide that a person must bring a suit in a cause of action arising from a claim of rights arising from a permit issued by a local government, including but not limited to a permit governed by Chapter 245 of the Local Government Code (the “permit vesting” statute), not later than the fifth anniversary of the date that the person submitted to the local governmental entity, as applicable: (1) an original application for a permit or the first permit in a series of permits; or (2) a plan for development or a plat application that gives the local government fair notice of the project and the nature of the permit sought.
H.B. 2507 (Chisum) – Emergency Radio Infrastructure: would provide that: (1) to provide and maintain an interoperable statewide emergency radio infrastructure, the Commission on State Emergency Communications shall impose an emergency radio infrastructure fee not to exceed 25 cents per month on certain local and long distance telephone service; (2) the state comptroller shall deposit the fee revenue to the credit of the emergency radio infrastructure fee account; (3) the fee revenue may be used only for an interoperable statewide emergency radio infrastructure; and (4) the fee may not be used to purchase or maintain radio subscriber equipment.
H.B. 2513 (Hopson) – Elections: would: (1) require the secretary of state to establish methods to obtain a photograph of each registered voter for use on voter registration certificates; and (2) require a voter to present his/her voter registration certificate with a photograph, an identification card, or a certain affidavit in order to vote.
H.B. 2515 (T. Smith) – Procurement: would provide that: (1) a governmental entity that enters into a public works contract with a prime contractor shall require the contractor to execute a performance bond if the contract is in excess of $100,000, and a payment bond if the contract is in excess of $50,000 and the governmental entity is a city or a joint airport board; and (2) if a change order involves a decrease or an increase of $50,000 or less, the governing body of a city may grant general authority to an administrative official to approve the change order.
H.B. 2524 (Anchia) – Electronic Voting Machines: would require the general custodian of election records, upon the receipt of an electronic voting system from a vendor, to: (1) verify that the system is certified by the secretary of state; (2) perform a hardware diagnostic test on the system; (3) perform a public test of logic and accuracy on the system, as well as any additional test required by the secretary of state; (4) create a pre-election security procedure; (5) secure access control keys or passwords to voting system equipment; and (6) create a contingency plan for addressing the failure of an electronic voting machine.
H.B. 2532 (Bonnen) – Emergency Management: would: (1) require a city to annually provide the division of emergency management in the office of the governor with the location of infrastructure in the city that is critical to the public health or safety and that requires electric utility service to adequately respond to or mitigate the effects of a disaster or emergency; and (2) require an electric utility that owns electric transmission and distribution lines to maintain and update such information and to assist with efforts to restore electric utility service.
H.B. 2547 (Giddings) – Workers’ Compensation: would require an employer of 75 or more employees, including a city, to provide to an injured employee’s treating doctor the employee’s job description and a list of specific duties the employee is required to perform.
H.B. 2555 (Hilderbran) – Property Tax: would provide that certain community housing development organization (CHDO) property tax exemptions last for five years rather than three years as current law provides. (Companion bill is S.B. 1591 by Ogden.)
H.B. 2571 (Gonzales) – Tow Trucks: would make numerous changes to the state’s vehicle towing law. Among other things, the bill would provide that: (1) "consent tow" means any tow in which the tow truck is summoned by the owner or operator of the vehicle or by a person who has possession, custody, or control of the vehicle; (2) “consent tow” does not include an incident management tow or a private property tow; (3) "incident management tow" means any tow in which the tow truck is summoned to a traffic accident or incident by a peace officer; (4) "nonconsent tow" means any tow that is not a consent tow, including an incident management tow and a private property tow; (5) "private property tow" means any tow authorized by a parking facility owner; (6) the Texas Commission on Licensing and Regulation by rule shall establish the fees that may be charged for a private property tow, the maximum amount that may be charged in other fees for a private property tow, and a maximum amount that may be charged for certain private property tows; (7) the governing body of a city may regulate the fees that may be charged for a nonconsent tow originating in the city if the fees are authorized by commission rule and, for private property tows, do not exceed the maximum amount authorized by commission rule; (8) in an area in which no political subdivision regulates the fees that may be charged for a nonconsent tow, a towing company may charge for the tow an amount not to exceed the maximum amount authorized by commission rule; (9) a city may adopt an ordinance that is identical to the state’s vehicle towing law or that imposes additional requirements that exceed the minimum standards of the state’s vehicle towing law, but may not adopt an ordinance conflicting with that law; (10) a towing company or parking facility owner who violates the state’s vehicle towing law is liable to the vehicle owner or operator for $1,000 plus three times the amount of fees assessed for the vehicle's removal, towing, or storage; (11) a person commits a Class B misdemeanor if the person violates the state’s vehicle towing law; and (12) the operator of a vehicle storage facility may not collect a fee for any charge associated with delivery or storage of a vehicle from a person who offers to pay the charge with an electronic check, debit card, or credit card form of payment that the operator is not equipped to accept. (Companion bill is S.B. 1431 by Hinojosa.) (Note: city officials in cities with tow truck regulations should carefully review the provisions of this bill.)
H.B. 2572 (Gonzalez Toureilles) – Gas Pipelines: would provide that a gas corporation has the right to lay and maintain lines under a public road, a railroad, railroad right-of-way, an interurban railroad, a street railroad, a canal or stream, or a municipal street or alley.
H.B. 2574 (Gonzalez Toureilles) – Elections: would prohibit an individual from being a candidate for elective public office if the individual has been: (1) convicted of a misdemeanor sexual or assaultive offense; (2) placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for a misdemeanor sexual or assaultive offense; or (3) placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for a felony.
H.B. 2580 (Frost) – Peace Officers: would: (1) require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) to develop, maintain, and promote an Internet Web site to promote employment opportunities for police officers; and (2) allow TCLEOSE to charge a reasonable fee to a city police department for its use of the Web site. (Companion bill is S.B. 489 by Deuell).
H.B. 2589 (Pickett) – Transportation Planning: would provide for various changes to transportation planning policy in the state. The bill would provide that:
- The Texas Transportation Commission (commission) shall divide the state into 25 districts for the purpose of the performance of the Texas Department of Transportation’s (department) duties.
- The commission shall align the district boundaries along the boundaries of council of governments and determine the number of employees required for the districts.
- A rural planning organization may be created to cover rural areas within the council of governments and outside the boundaries of a metropolitan planning organization if the units of local government that together represent at least 75 percent of the affected population agree to the creation of the organization.
- A rural planning organization shall have certain governance requirements and authority, including that an organization shall develop transportation plans and programs for its service area.
- The commission shall use the cash forecast prepared by the department’s chief financial officer to allocate funding to the department’s districts, and the allocated funding shall be carried forward from year-to-year for the benefit of the region.
- A planning organization shall develop a ten-year transportation plan using the funding allocated to the region, and the department shall compile the region's project selections to develop the statewide transportation plan.
- Upon completion of the ten-year transportation plan, the department shall use the projects listed to develop a proposed ten-year business work plan.
- In an area outside of a metropolitan area in which the units of local government have not created a rural planning organization, the district shall select projects with the input of county, city, and transportation officials and order them in priority.
- The statewide transportation program and budget shall include at least the department's operating budget, official cash forecast, regional allocation of funds, and projects selected by the planning organizations.
- The statewide transportation program and budget shall be organized first by region, then by mode of transportation, followed by the year of the project.
- The commission shall adopt rules creating funding formulas for transportation projects and shall include the input of planning organizations, transportation officials, and local government officials in that process.
- The funding of transportation projects must be in accordance with a statewide transportation program and budget.
- The commission may choose to set aside an amount of funds not to exceed the lesser of ten percent of the total funds allocated to the districts or $250 million annually for the purpose of addressing emergencies or economic development opportunities that require transportation infrastructure.
- The department shall develop an interactive Web-based system for the tracking of regional allocations and projects.
- Not later than December 1 of each odd-numbered year, the commission shall review the performance of the department's activities and make the review available to the public.
- The commission shall appoint an inspector general who reports to the commission and who shall audit the department's financial condition and its efficiency.
- In order for a metropolitan planning organization to be eligible to receive funding from the state for transportation projects, the makeup of the voting members of the board must include at least 50 percent elected officials who are elected within the boundaries of the metropolitan planning organization.
(This bill is substantially the same as S.B. 1417 by Shapiro.)
H.B. 2598 (Thompson) – Alcoholic Beverage Fees: would permit a city council to levy a fee (equal to one-half of the state fee) on mixed beverage permits issued in the city.
H.B. 2609 (D. Miller) – Criminal Trespass: would: (1) create a defense to prosecution for the offense of criminal trespass for an employee or agent of an investor-owned electric or gas utility or any person who had or reasonably believed they had consent or authorization by law to enter the property; and (2) create a Class C misdemeanor for the offense of criminal trespass on residential property without a weapon. (Companion bill is S.B. 1391, by Wentworth.)
H.B. 2615 (Heflin) – Fireworks: would allow a local declaration of disaster to regulate fireworks more strictly than current law for the entire period of the local declaration.
H.B. 2622 (Gutierrez) – Municipal Court: would: (1) authorize a city to establish a pre-trial, victim-offender mediation program for certain misdemeanor property crimes; (2) require a city that establishes such a program to notify the attorney general’s office and provide information about the program upon request; and (3) authorize a program fee not to exceed $500, to be used only for purposes specific to the program.
H.B. 2628 (Rodriguez) – Property Tax: would extend the current-law charitable organization property tax exemption to include organizations that provide housing and related services to certain disabled, homeless persons, provided the organization has been in existence for at least 10 years and has a single location within a city.
H.B. 2631 (C. Howard) – Financial Disclosure: would provide that financial disclosure statements required by Section 145.003 of the Local Government Code are not required from a municipal officer who doesn’t receive compensation for serving as an officer, or from a candidate for such office.
H.B. 2639 (Isett) – Red Light Cameras: would prohibit cities from operating photographic traffic enforcement cameras (for red light violations, speeding, or any other traffic violations.)
H.B. 2646 (Kent) – Municipal Court: would limit the jurisdiction of a municipal court of record regarding health and safety ordinances to those issues listed in Section 54.012 of the Local Government Code.
H.B. 2647 (Kent) – Health and Safety: would authorize an order of a building and safety commission, including the imposition of a civil penalty, to be enforceable in the same manner as orders for substandard building remediation, including the imposition of liens against certain types of property.
H.B. 2658 (Kuempel) – Certificates of Convenience and Necessity (CCNs): would permit owners of certain tracts of land larger than three acres to petition for expedited release from a CCN if the CCN holder is unable or refuses to provide adequate water pressure for fire suppression.
H.B. 2667 (Ritter) – Plumbing Fixtures: would authorize a city to allow the sale of toilets that do not comply with certain low-volume flush requirements if the city finds that a greater quantity of water is required due to the configuration of the drainage systems in the city.
H.B. 2670 (Thibaut) – Prompt Payment Act: would provide that a governmental entity is not liable for interest under the Prompt Payment Act if the governmental entity's invoice payment is late because of a bona fide dispute between the governmental entity and a vendor, contractor, subcontractor, or supplier concerning the goods delivered or the service performed.
H.B. 2678 (Y. Davis) – Collective Bargaining: would grant collective bargaining rights to law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and EMS personnel in cities over 5,000 in population and to DPS officers. The bill would also provide that a city may establish by rule a collective bargaining system that conforms to the requirements of federal law. (Note: this bill anticipates the passage of federal legislation that would impose collective bargaining on all cities. The TML Legislative Update has frequently reported on this proposed federal legislation, most recently in the January 22, 2009, edition.)
H.B. 2682 (Alvarado) – Speed Limits: would allow a city to declare the speed limit of a city road at not less than 25 miles per hour if the road is less than four lanes, but without regard to the width of the road or whether parking is allowed on the road.
H.B. 2683 (Alvarado) – Common Nuisances: would provide that a person operating a sexually-oriented business without obtaining a license or permit from the city in which the business is located maintains a common nuisance.
H.B. 2685 (Callegari) – Eminent Domain: would clarify the time period in which a city must send to a property owner a “landowner’s bill of rights” informing the property owner of rights regarding eminent domain. Specifically, the bill would provide that the landowner’s bill of rights must be sent on or before the date a condemnor makes an offer to a property owner to acquire real property.
H.B. 2695 (Gattis) – Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC): would abolish the TRCC and repeal Section 214.906 of the Local Government Code, which requires a city, before issuing a building permit, to verify that the builder is registered with the TRCC.
H.B. 2705 (Gattis) – Annexation: would clarify current law regarding provision of services after annexation to provide that, if the annexed area had a level of services for maintaining and landscaping rights-of-way superior to the level of services provided within the corporate boundaries of the city before annexation, a service plan must provide annexed public rights-of-way with a level of maintenance and landscaping that is comparable to the level of maintenance and landscaping available to other public rights-of-way in the city.
H.B. 2713 (Coleman) – Health Benefits Mandate: would provide that health benefit plans, including plans issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, may not have a maximum lifetime benefit of less than $5 million for an acute or chronic medical condition.
H.B. 2714 (Coleman) – Health Benefits Mandate: would require that a health benefit plan provide coverage for the treatment of loss or impairment of language ability.
H.B. 2716 (Bolton) – Motor Fuels Tax: would exempt from the motor fuels tax gas and diesel fuel sold to volunteer fire departments. (Companion bill is S.B. 1101 by Watson.)
H.B. 2719 (D. Howard) – Nurses: would waive sovereign immunity to permit nurses to sue local governments, including cities, for retaliation.
H.B. 2725 (Woolley) – Conflicts Disclosure: would: (1) require a city that maintains a Web site to provide access to each conflicts disclosure statement or questionnaire within five days of its filing; (2) require that the posted statement or questionnaire be posted in electronically searchable format; (3) provide that on offense related to the required filing of a conflicts disclosure statement or vendor questionnaire may be prosecuted in any county in which it may be prosecuted under the Code of Criminal Procedure; and (3) give the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction to investigate or prosecute an offense related to the filing of a conflicts disclosure statement or vendor questionnaire upon the approval of the local county or district attorney.
H.B. 2726 (Eissler) – Regional Participation Agreements: would provide that governmental immunity from suit of a party to a regional participation agreement is waived for the limited purpose of a cause of action brought by a party based on or arising out of the regional participation agreement. (Note: cities adjacent to The Woodlands should carefully study this bill and its possible consequences.)
H.B. 2749 (Eiland) – Disaster Funding: would allow a city located in a designated disaster area to request a grant of state sales taxes from the governor to cover the costs of redeveloping the city’s economy after a disaster.
H.B. 2750 (Eiland) – Health Benefit Plans: would: (1) regulate the cancellation, loss ratios, and the premium rate adjustments of certain health benefit plans; (2) require a health benefit plan, including a plan issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, to adopt standardized processing of certain claims; and (3) generally prohibit those plans from disseminating information that ranks, classifies, compares, or rates a physician’s performance, efficiency, or quality of practice. (Companion bill is S.B. 1257 by Averitt.)
H.B. 2762 (Martinez Fischer) – Sales Tax: would exempt school supplies from sales taxes.
H.B. 2778 (Farrar) – Energy Conservation Codes: would provide that: (1) at least once every five years, the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), in consultation with the Energy Systems Laboratory, shall review revisions made by the International Code Council to the International Energy Conservation Code and the energy efficiency chapter of the International Residential Code and any local amendments made to the codes or energy efficiency programs that have strengthened energy efficiency requirements; (2) SECO by rule shall establish a procedure for persons, including city officials, who have an interest in the adoption of standards for energy efficiency to have an opportunity to comment on the standards under consideration; (3) following the completion of the review, SECO by rule shall adopt revised standards for energy efficiency to replace the existing standards; and (4) to achieve the goal of adopting standards (by January 1, 2030), that will result in residential construction designed to consume no more energy on a net annual basis than can be produced on-site from renewable energy sources, SECO and the advisory committee shall, not later than January 1, 2011, conduct a study on the feasibility of reaching that goal and make recommendations to the legislature on a schedule for adopting progressive standards to reach that goal.
H.B. 2780 (Keffer) – Electric Aggregation: would provide that: (1) a city may negotiate on behalf of its citizens to create citizen aggregation programs for the purchase of electricity; (2) the governing body of a city may adopt an ordinance or resolution that provides for automatic enrollment in aggregation services for citizens of the city, and enrollment on request by citizens of unincorporated areas within 20 miles of the city; (3) if the governing body of the city provides for automatic enrollment of the citizens in aggregation services, the city shall send by mail to each citizen who will be automatically enrolled a 60-day written notice that citizens will be automatically enrolled unless a citizen expressly requests to not be enrolled; and (4) each retail electric provider and transmission and distribution utility shall provide to a city any information the city considers necessary to solicit or administer an aggregation program, including the name, address, electric service identifier, and monthly usage of each residential customer in the city. (Companion is S.B. 1481 by Davis, below.)
H.B. 2782 (Keffer) – Electric Markets: would, among other things: (1) prohibit an entity from owning, controlling, or owning and controlling in any combination more than 20 percent of the installed generation capacity located in or capable of delivering electricity to a power region in the state; and (2) mandate that, not later than September 30, 2010, each electric utility shall sell at auction or otherwise divest any installed generation capacity necessary to ensure that the electric utility does not control more than 20 percent of the installed generation capacity in ERCOT, an ERCOT zonal boundary, or a functional market recognized by the Public Utility Commission. (This bill is substantially the same as S.B. 1480 by Davis.)
H.B. 2783 (Anchia) – Energy Conservation Codes: would provide that: (1) to achieve energy conservation in single-family residential construction, the energy efficiency provisions of the International Residential Code, as it existed on May 1, 2009, are adopted as the energy code in this state for single-family residential construction; (2) to achieve energy conservation in all other residential, commercial, and industrial construction, the International Energy Conservation Code as it existed on May 1, 2009, is adopted as the energy code for use in this state for all other residential, commercial, and industrial construction; (3) if the State Energy Conservation Office determines, based on written recommendations from the Energy Systems Laboratory, that the latest published International Residential Code energy efficiency provisions or the latest published edition of the International Energy Conservation Code will result in residential or commercial sector energy efficiency and air quality impact, on average, that is equivalent to or better than the energy efficiency and air quality impact achievable under the provisions or edition adopted under numbers (1) and (2), above, the office may by rule adopt the equivalent or more stringent provisions or edition and substitute the rule for those energy codes; and (4) a city shall establish procedures for the administration and enforcement of the codes and to ensure that code-certified inspectors or approved energy efficiency program verifiers shall perform inspections and enforce the code in the inspectors' jurisdictions.
H.B. 2792 (Homer) – Sign Regulation: would allow any city (not just home rule cities as current law provides) to regulate, license, control, or prohibit the erection of certain signs or billboards.
H.B. 2794 (Homer) – Elections: would exempt a city with a population of less than 1,000 from certain electronic voting machine requirements.
H.B. 2798 (Driver) – Police Officers: would require a city, when creating a police department for the first time, to submit to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) certain information regarding: (1) the need for a police department; (2) how the department will be funded; (3) what resources will be available to the department; (4) proposed law enforcement policies of the department; and (5) various other items of information.
H.B. 2801 (Berman) – Elections: would require that an insufficient number of ballots or a malfunction of electronic voting system equipment must be remedied through the use of emergency paper ballots when no other method of voting is available.
H.B. 2802 (Berman) – Elections: would alter the current recount deposit schedule to require a recount deposit of: (1) five times the federal minimum wage for a precinct that uses regular paper ballots, certain electronic voting system ballots that are counted manually, or both; (2) ten times the federal minimum wage for a precinct where printed images of ballots cast using direct recording electronic voting machines are to be recounted manually; (3) three times the federal minimum wage for a precinct in which ballots are to be recounted by automatic tabulating equipment; and (4) twice the federal minimum wage for a precinct in which voting machines were used and no write-in votes are to be recounted, or only the write-in votes are to be recounted.
H.B. 2806 (Maldonado) – Fire/Police Civil Service: would provide that, in a city covered by Chapter 143 of the Local Government Code (Fire/Police Civil Service), when a firefighter or police officer who was on a military leave of absence is reinstated and the reinstatement creates a surplus of personnel, positions shall be filled according to seniority.
H.B. 2807 (Maldonado) – Fire Flow: would require water pressure in a municipality with a population of 10,000 or more be maintained at a level adequate to provide fire hydrants with enough pressure to be used for fire suppression, regardless of whether the water is provided by an investor-owned or municipally-owned water utility.
H.B. 2828 (Menendez) – Property Tax: would: (1) permit property owned by certain limited partnerships to claim a community housing development organization (CHDO) property tax exemption; (2) expand the application of special appraisals for low-income or moderate-income housing to include apartments and land owned by persons other than certain nonprofit organizations; and (3) alter the application of the income method of appraisal to low-income or moderate-income appraisals.
H.B. 2833 (Marquez) – County Development Authority: would, for the purpose of preventing the proliferation of colonias, authorize certain border counties in certain circumstances to regulate residential land development in the unincorporated area of the county, and would authorize certain cities in certain border counties in certain circumstances to regulate residential land development in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. (Companion bill is S.B. 1370 by Lucio.)
H.B. 2836 (Marquez) – Property Tax: would extend the charitable organization property tax exemption to include organizations that engage in “protecting land chosen for its natural and cultural value.”
H.B. 2839 (Riddle) – Motor Vehicle Racing: would: (1) provide that an individual convicted of a motor vehicle racing offense who was previously convicted of the same offense shall have his/her license suspended for two years; (2) require a person whose license is suspended to complete a driving safety course; (3) allow a police officer to take a vehicle used in the commission of a racing offense to a garage maintained or designated by the city and retain it there for a maximum of 15 days; (4) require the owner of the stored motor vehicle to pay for all removal and storage fees; and (5) provide that a defendant convicted of a racing offense who was previously convicted of the same offense shall forfeit the vehicle operated at the time of the offense to the state if the defendant owned the vehicle both at the time of the offense and at the time of the conviction.
H.B. 2847 (Riddle) – Elections: would provide that the county election precincts are the election precincts to be used for a city election held on the November uniform election date.
H.B. 2851 (Farabee) – Electric Markets: would provide that: (1) upon a finding that market power abuses or other violations are or may be occurring, the Public Utility Commission shall commence an appropriate enforcement proceeding with the goal of ending the market power abuse; and (2) such an enforcement proceeding is a contested case in which interested parties, including interested cities, have a right to intervene.
H.B. 2865 (Strama) – Property Tax: would extend the charitable organization property tax exemption to include organizations that provide access to affordable financial products and services for low-income individuals, provided the organization is a certified community development financial institution and is exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
H.B. 2868 (Strama) – Health Care: would require emergency medical services, hospitals, and other health care institutions and practitioners to: (1) adopt and enforce a policy to promptly disclose to a patient or patient representative when something unexpected happens to a patient under their care; (2) include a disclosure of what happened, whose fault it was, and what must be done; and (3) make the disclosure within 48 hours after the event.
H.B. 2878 (Sheffield) – Property Tax: would freeze property taxes for disabled persons or persons over the age of 65 on certain homestead improvements financed with community development block grants or the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs housing rehabilitation program grants. (Note: please see H.J.R. 91, below.)
H.B. 2882 (Martinez) – Municipal Court: would: (1) authorize a city to establish a pre-trial, victim-offender mediation program for certain misdemeanor property crimes; (2) require a city that establishes such a program to notify the attorney general’s office and provide information about the program upon request; (3) authorize a program fee not to exceed $500, to be used only for purposes specific to the program; (4) create a $15 court cost on crimes against property to go to the state comptroller for distribution to pre-trial victim-offender mediation programs, of which 40 percent may be retained by a city with such a program already in place. (Note: this bill is the same as H.B. 2270 by Alonzo.)
H.B. 2883 (Martinez) – Transportation Act: would require a city to establish minimum guidelines to accommodate bicycles, pedestrians, and mass transit riders for all transportation projects.
H.B. 2890 (Martinez) – Public Information: would provide that information a city receives from a state legislator or the lieutenant governor that is composed exclusively of communications between the state official and a resident of this state is confidential and may be disclosed by the city only if the state official elects to disclose the information.
H.B. 2891 (Martinez) – Public Information Act: would: (1) require a city to charge at least 15 cents per copy as a fee for copying public information upon receiving a public information request; and (2) require that the funds from the fee collected be used for records management.
H.B. 2909 (Marquez) – Public Information Act: would allow a city to redact certain types of personal information under the Public Information Act without first requesting a decision from the attorney general.
H.B. 2924 (Farrar) – Sex Offenders: would prohibit certain registered sex offenders previously convicted of a sexually violent offense involving a child from living within 1,000 feet of the premises of a school.
H.B. 2930 (Rios Ybarra) – Emergency Medical Power Stations: would: (1) require the state emergency management plan to include emergency medical power stations to provide residents in a disaster area where there is a power outage access to power for their medial devices; (2) require cooperation with local hospitals; (3) allow a hospital, city, or other agency to request funding from the disaster contingency fund to pay for the costs of emergency medical power stations; and (4) require the division of emergency management to approve all reasonable requests for these funds, if funding is available.
H.B. 2934 (Vaught) – Property Tax: would provide a residential homestead property tax exemption for veterans who have served in hostile fire or imminent danger pay zones, with the amount of the exemption being based on the number of months served in such combat multiplied by $750. (Note: please see H.JR. 92, below.)
H.B. 2941 (Paxton) – Property Tax/Public Information: would de-classify certain comptroller property tax records for use in property tax protests and audits by appraisal districts, taxing entities, and others. (Companion bill is S.B. 1494 by Williams.)
H.B. 2960 (Coleman) – Building Regulations: would require a city to verify that certain coastal gas service stations possess alternate electrical generators before the city may issue a certificate of occupancy to the service station.
H.B. 2967 (Coleman) – Health Benefits Mandate: would generally require health benefit plans to cover the treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
H.B. 2969 (Coleman) – Health Benefits Mandate: would broaden the mandate that health benefit plans provide coverage for mental illnesses by changing the scope of the mandate from “serious mental illness” to any “mental disorder.”
H.B. 2975 (Coleman) – Health Benefits Mandate: would provide that health benefit plans, including plans issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, must provide coverage for certain injuries that are self-inflicted by a minor.
H.B. 2980 (Hilderbran) – Property Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 2828 by Menendez, above.
H.B. 2996 (Heflin) – Elections: would allow a voter to submit an e-mail ballot to the early voting clerk of the voter’s county of residence during the period for early voting or on election day under certain circumstances.
H.B. 2997 (Heflin) – Elections: would: (1) provide that a voter accepted for provisional voting because the voter does not meet the identification requirements, or an interested person on behalf of the voter, may present proof of identification to the voter registrar within ten business days of the election; and (2) require an election officer to inform an individual voting by provisional ballot because he/she does not meet the identification requirement of the ten-day window for providing identification to the voter registrar.
H.B. 2999 (Fletcher) – Litigation: would: (1) permit a prosecuting attorney in a criminal case to designate one person who is an officer or employee of a party that is not a natural person, including a city, to serve as the state’s courtroom representative during a proceeding; and (2) would prohibit a court from excluding that person from the courtroom under certain rules of criminal procedure. (Companion bill is S.B. 406 by Shapiro.)
H.B. 3001 (Homer) – Employee Benefits: would allow a Type A or Type B general law city to use cost of living and longevity to determine an employee’s salary.
H.B. 3004 (Coleman) – Animal Control: would add a civil penalty of between $100 and $500 for violations of the animal shelter regulations that apply to cities and city employees under Chapter 823 of the Health and Safety Code, and would provide that a city or county may enjoin violations of the animal shelter laws.
H.B. 3010 (Coleman) – Property Tax: would require the chief appraiser of an appraisal district to audit the validity of tangible property renditions once every three years.
H.B. 3023 (Coleman) – Stun Guns: would create a moratorium until January 2011 on the purchase of a stun gun by a law enforcement agency and the use of a stun gun by a peace officer.
H.B. 3027 (Coleman) – Cell Phone Ban: would prohibit the use of a cell phone without a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle, subject to certain exceptions.
H.B. 3043 (Farias) – Elections: would: (1) require a city ordering a general election to order that early voting by personal appearance at the main early voting polling place be conducted on at least one Saturday during the early voting period; and (2) allow a city ordering a special election to order that early voting by personal appearance at the main early voting polling place be conducted on one or more Saturdays or Sundays during the early voting period.
H.B. 3048 (Farias) – Internet Posting: would: (1) require a city with a population of 500,000 or more to make an election report filed with the clerk by the mayor or other member of the governing body available on the city’s Web site not later than the second business day after the date the report is filed; and (2) would require any city, regardless of population, with a Web site, to post conflicts disclosure statements and vendor disclosure statutes on its Web site.
H.B. 3062 (Bohac) – Elections: would provide that the governing body of a political subdivision, other than a county, that orders an election shall deliver notice of the election to the county clerk and voter registrar of each county in which the political subdivision is located not later than the 60th day before election day.
H.J.R. 79 (Raymond) – Eight-Liners: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) authorize the legislature to regulate the operation of eight-liners or similar gaming devices; (2) require a law be enacted to permit a vote as to whether eight-liners may be legally operated in a county, justice precinct, or city; and (3) allow the legislature or a political subdivision to impose a fee on eight-liners. (Note: please see H.B. 2325, above.)
H.J.R. 82 (McClendon) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature to exempt high-speed passenger rail facilities from property taxes. (Note: please see H.B. 2420, above.) (Companion bill is S.J.R. 16 by Carona.)
H.J.R. 89 (Paxton) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that, subject to legislative allocation, appropriation, and direction, three-fourths of the net revenue from the motor fuel sales tax shall be used for the sole purpose of constructing and maintaining public highways, and one-fourth of the net revenue shall be allocated to school funding. (Companion bill is H.J.R. 13 by Leibowitz.)
H.J.R. 91 (Sheffield) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to freeze property taxes for disabled persons or persons over the age of 65 on certain homestead improvements financed with community development block grants or the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs housing rehabilitation program grants. (Note: please see H.B. 2878, above.)
H.J.R. 92 (Vaught) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to provide a residential homestead property tax exemption for veterans who have served in hostile fire or imminent danger pay zones, with the amount of the exemption being computed based on the time served in such combat situations. (Note: please see H.B. 2934, above.)
S.B. 11 (Carona) – Street Gangs: would, among other provisions: (1) make a street gang or member of a street gang liable for damages arising from gang activity, including increased cost of governmental services and loss of property tax revenue due to decreased value of property; (2) make a street gang or member of a street gang liable for damages stemming from injury by nuisance; (3) allow the property of a street gang or gang member to be seized in execution of a judgment against the gang; (4) require an affirmative finding of fact to be entered in the judgment if the judge determines that the conduct in question was engaged in as part of the activities of a criminal gang; (5) make any property used in certain organized crime offenses eligible for felony forfeiture proceedings; and (6) create a law enforcement internal affairs unit in the Texas Department of Public Safety to investigate possible organized crime connections among certified peace officers, including requesting information from local police departments.
S.B. 1011 (Estes) – Texas Commission on Fire Protection: would: (1) make it optional (rather than mandatory, as is current law) for the Texas Commission on Fire Protection to consult with the firefighter advisory committee; (2) would encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution in adopting commission rules; (3) require that commission fees be based on the amount designed to recover the commission’s costs, with no maximum fee listed; (4) require criminal background checks for individuals applying for certification by the commission; (5) change current law to allow the commission to enter a default order if a fire department does not respond to a violation notice within the commission deadlines; and (6) abolish the fire department emergency program, which provides scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial assistance to eligible local fire departments.
S.B. 1320 (Wentworth) – Geospatial Data: would require a city to provide certain notice on each geospatial data product (including a map) that: (1) is created or hosted by the city; (2) appears to represent property boundaries; and (3) was not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor. (This bill is substantially the same as H.B. 1677 by W. Smith.)
S.B. 1340 (Gallegos) – Peace Officers: would allow a police officer or firefighter, in a city over 25,000 in population, to treat September 11 as a paid day off if the officer substitutes another holiday or uses other paid time off and is not required by the city to work to maintain minimum staffing levels. (Companion bill is H.B. 2113 by Walle).
S.B. 1345 (Watson) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would require the issuer of a health benefit plan, including a local government risk pool, to provide coverage for orally administered anticancer medication. (Companion bill is H.B. 1759 by Thompson.)
S.B. 1354 (Jackson) – Plumbers: would modify the plumber’s license law by providing that: (1) a person is not required to be licensed to perform plumbing, other than plumbing performed in conjunction with new construction, repair, or remodeling, on a property that is located inside a city that is within a county that has fewer than 50,000 inhabitants if the city has fewer than 5,000 inhabitants and the city or the county has authorized a person who is not licensed to perform plumbing; (2) a city that requires a plumbing contractor to obtain a permit before the person performs plumbing shall electronically accept permit applications, collect required fees, and issue the required permits; (3) if drawings of proposed plumbing work are required by the city, the city shall specify how permit drawings are to be submitted; (4) a person who is required to obtain a permit in a city over 5,000 in population or a city under 5,000 population that has elected to require a permit is not required to pay a plumbing registration fee or administrative fee in a city or any other political subdivision; (5) a plumbing contractor must electronically register with a city that requires registration before performing plumbing regulated by the city; (6) a political subdivision that requires a plumbing contractor to obtain a permit before performing plumbing in the political subdivision shall verify through the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiner's Internet Web site that the plumbing contractor has on file with the board a certificate of insurance; and (7) if the boundaries of a city and another political subdivision overlap, only the affected city may perform a plumbing inspection and collect a permit fee.
S.B. 1358 (Seliger) – Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS): would provide that a TMRS employer may opt to increase annuities for current retirees by using the “sum of the prior and current service annuities on the effective date of retirement…plus any previously granted annuity increases,” multiplied by 30, 50, or 70 percent of the change in the consumer price index.
S.B. 1359 (Seliger) – Property Tax: would: (1) require a person seeking a delay, because of hardship, in payment of property taxes pending appeal to give notice of the required court hearing to the tax collector for each taxing entity; and (2) permit a taxing unit to intervene in the court proceeding at which the hardship is considered. (Companion bill is H.B. 1202 by Rose.)
S.B. 1361 (Nichols) – Certificates of Convenience and Necessity (CCNs): would: (1) reduce the size of a tract of land which may request expedited release from the area of a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) from 50 acres to 25 acres; and (2) streamline the process by which a tract of land may petition the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for expedited release from a CCN.
S.B. 1370 (Lucio) – County Development Authority: this bill is the same as H.B. 2833 by Marquez, above.
S.B. 1383 (Carona) – Transportation: would create the Texas Local Participation Transportation Program to encourage “local project sponsors” (e.g., a city, county, regional mobility authority, or regional tollway authority) to participate in pass-through toll transportation projects. Specifically, the bill would provide that: (1) the Texas local participation transportation fund is created as a dedicated account in the state’s general revenue fund; (2) the fund is composed of money transferred to the fund at the direction of the legislature; gifts and grants contributed to the fund; interest and earnings received from investments of money in the fund; and money repaid by a local project sponsor under a loan made under the bill; (3) the state comptroller shall administer a program to encourage local project sponsors to participate in the delivery of eligible projects by providing the sponsors disbursements from the fund; (4) the comptroller shall develop a process for certifying the eligibility of transportation projects nominated by local project sponsors for disbursements from the fund; (5) a local project sponsor must submit a proposed plan for funding a project that, among many other things, specifically identifies the contribution of local sources to the total project cost; (6) an eligible project may not receive more than 50 percent of the total project cost from the fund; and (7) for purposes of determining the amount contributed by local sources to the total project cost, a local project sponsor may include funds on hand, ad valorem taxes, local option taxes or fees dedicated to the project, economic development grants, other project-specific gifts and grants, and, if the project is planned as a toll facility, toll revenues.
S.B. 1391 (Wentworth) - Criminal Trespass: this bill is the same as H.B. 2609, above.
S.B. 1396 (Deuell) – Health Benefit Plans: would generally prohibit health benefit plans, including plans issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, from disseminating information that ranks, classifies, compares, or rates a physician’s performance, efficiency, or quality of practice. (Companion bill is H.B. 1392 by Leibowitz.)
S.B. 1398 (West) – Licensing/Dwellings: would prohibit a city from requiring an individual to acquire a license or permit issued by the city as a condition for occupying or leasing a dwelling.
S.B. 1417 (Shapiro) – Transportation Planning: This bill is substantially the same as S.B. 2589, above.
S.B. 1431 (Hinojosa) – Tow Trucks: this bill is the same as H.B. 2571, above.
S.B. 1444 (Shapiro) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain tangible personal property used in research and development. (Companion bill is H.B. 1996 by McCall.)
S.B. 1447 (West) – Substandard Buildings: would provide that: (1) a city may bring a civil action in rem (against the property) for, among other things, the enforcement of a building standards ordinance (Note: the effect of an in rem action is a judgment against the structure as well as a judgment against the defendant, which can aid in enforcement against subsequent purchasers); (2) a home rule city may bring an action in district court against an owner of property that is not in substantial compliance with municipal ordinances regarding: (a) the materials or methods used to construct a building or other structure or improvement; (b) the preservation of public health or the fire safety of a building or other structure or improvement; (c) dangerously damaged or deteriorated structures or improvements; (d) conditions caused by accumulations of refuse, vegetation, or other matter that creates breeding and living places for insects and rodents; or (e) point source effluent; and (3) with some exceptions, a court may appoint as a receiver for substandard property a nonprofit organization or an individual with a demonstrated record of rehabilitating properties if the court makes certain findings.
S.B. 1448 (West) – Substandard Buildings: would modify current substandard building enforcement procedures by providing that: (1) a tenant may bring a civil action against an owner of real property to seek a remedy for a city ordinance violation relating to a condition that materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant in certain circumstances; (2) a tenant may join a city’s civil action that relates to the tenant's dwelling, building, or structure, but only with the consent of the city; and (3) a city or a tenant may bring an action to compel the repair of a substandard structure, and a city may bring an action to compel the demolition of a structure or to obtain approval to remove the structure and recover removal costs.
S.B. 1449 (West) – Substandard Buildings: would: (1) provide that a home rule city or a nonprofit housing organization approved by a home rule city may initiate an action against an owner of property that is not in substantial compliance with certain municipal building standards; (2) provide that a city that grants authority to a nonprofit housing organization to initiate an action has standing to intervene in the proceedings at any time as a matter of right; (3) authorize the court to appoint a receiver if the court finds that the property is in violation of one or more ordinances relating to the building standards described in the bill; and (4) prescribe the powers and duties of a receiver appointed under number 3, above.
S.B. 1457 (Carona) – Sovereign Immunity: would waive the sovereign immunity of a governmental entity (including a city) for violations of the state’s Prompt Payment Act.
S.B. 1467 (Davis) – Purchasing: would provide that: (1) a governmental agency, including a city, procuring goods or services that involve the production of cement may give preference to a vendor who demonstrates that the cement was produced from a portland cement kiln that uses a dry raw material feed precalciner pyroprocessing technology and meets or exceeds regulatory requirements for emissions of nitrogen oxide; and (2) the preference may be given only if the cost to the governmental agency for the goods or services would not exceed 105 percent of the cost of the goods or services provided by a vendor who does not meet the standards. (Companion bill is H.B. 2174 by Truitt.)
S.B. 1480 (Davis) – Electric Markets: this bill is substantially the same as H.B. 2782, above.
S.B. 1481 (Davis) – Electric Aggregation: this bill is the same as H.B. 2780, above.
S.B. 1494 (Williams) – Property Tax/Public Information: this bill is the same as H.B. 2941, above.
S.B. 1497 (Williams) – Property Tax: would: (1) deny binding arbitration of certain appraisal review board (ARB) orders to property owners who were represented by tax consultants at the ARB or did not provide timely disclosure of evidence to the chief appraiser prior to the ARB hearing; (2) regulate property tax consultants and arbitrators; and (3) permit arbitrators to adjust certain ARB decisions based on the size of the appealed error.
S.B. 1498 (Van de Putte) – Employment Preference: would require a city to give hiring preference to a veteran or a veteran’s surviving spouse if the applicant meets the minimum qualifications for the position.
S.B. 1529 (Whitmire) – Felony Forfeiture: would: (1) prohibit prosecutors from executing a plea bargain agreement that would waive a person’s interest in property seized under the felony forfeiture laws; (2) provide that post-judgment interest on money seized under the felony forfeiture laws shall be used for the same purposes that the principal is used; (3) prohibit the use of felony forfeiture funds for salaries, political campaigns, donations to certain organizations that do not assist crime victims or provide rehabilitation services, judicial training, or alcoholic beverages; (3) require more detailed local audits of the expenditure of felony forfeiture funds; (4) permit the state auditor to investigate at any time the expenditure of felony forfeiture funds; (5) permit the attorney general to sue a law enforcement agency or prosecutor who misuses felony forfeiture funds; and (6) permit up to a $100,000 civil fine for misuse of felony forfeiture funds.
S.B. 1591 (Ogden) – Property Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 2555 by Hilderbran, above.
S.B. 1604 (Shapleigh) – Elections: would require that by January 1, 2015, a voting system must provide for durable paper ballots marked by voters, regardless of the method of vote tabulation.
S.B. 1607 (West) – Blood Specimens: would authorize any magistrate who is an attorney licensed by this state to issue a search warrant to collect a blood specimen following an arrest for certain intoxication offenses. (Companion bill is H.B. 1354 by Vaught.)
S.B. 1629 (Wentworth) – Public Information Act: would provide that a newspaper of general circulation that is published on the Internet by a news medium engaged in the business of disseminating news or information to the public, or a magazine that is published at least once a week or on the Internet by a news medium engaged in the business of disseminating news or information to the general public, is exempt from the required prepayment of personnel costs incurred by a governmental body in responding to certain requests that require large amounts of personnel time.
S.B. 1630 (Wentworth) – Public Information Act: would: (1) provide that information relating to the location, appraisal, or purchase price of real or personal property for a public purpose prior to a formal action being taken on the property is not considered “super-public” information under the Public Information Act; and (2) in lieu of providing requested information, allow a city to inform a requestor that the requested information is available on the city’s Web site and provide a means of accessing the Web site to the requestor.
S.B. 1632 (Wentworth) – Property Tax: would provide that tax collectors may refund overpayments of property taxes in amounts between $5 and $100 without requiring an application from the taxpayer.