CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

PROPERTY TAX

H.B. 315 (Otto) – Property Tax: would give a motor vehicle dealer the ability to elect to have motor vehicle inventory appraised based upon the price for which it would sell as a unit to a purchaser who would continue the business, and would allow a motor vehicle dealer to elect to have the inventory appraised at its market value as of September 1 of the year preceding the tax year to which the appraisal applies, but only if: (1) the total annual sales from the dealer’s motor vehicle inventory, less sales to dealers, fleet transactions, and subsequent sales, are 25 percent or less of the total revenue from all sources during the 12-month period corresponding to the preceding tax year; or (2) the dealer did not sell a motor vehicle to a person other than another dealer during the 12-month period corresponding to the preceding tax year and the dealer estimates that the total annual sales will be 25 percent or less of the dealer’s total revenue from all sources during that period. 

H.B. 316 (Otto) – Property Tax: would allow taxpayer appeals from appraisal review board determinations to be heard by the State Office of Administrative Hearings if the property is located in the following cities:  Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, Lufkin, McAllen, Midland, San Antonio, Tyler, and Wichita Falls.

S.B. 154 (Patrick) – Property Tax: would reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten to five percent.  (Note:  please see S.J.R. 15, below.)

S.B. 155 (Patrick) – Property Tax: would extend the current ten-percent appraisal cap to business property.  (The cap currently applies only to residential homesteads.) (Note: please see S.J.R. 14, below.)

S.B. 163 (Van de Putte) – Property Tax: would provide that: (1) the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action is entitled to a property tax exemption for the total appraised value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead if: (a) the surviving spouse has not remarried; and (b) the property was the residence homestead of the member of the armed services when the member died; and (2) a surviving spouse who qualifies for an exemption that subsequently qualifies a different property as the surviving spouse’s residence homestead is entitled to a property tax exemption of the subsequently-qualified homestead in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the exemption for the former homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried.  (Note: please see S.J.R. 16, below.)

S.J.R. 14 (Patrick) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to apply a ten-percent appraisal cap to business property. (Note: please see S.B. 155, above.)

S.J.R. 15 (Patrick) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature to reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten to five percent. (Note: please see S.B. 154, above.)

S.J.R. 16 (Van de Putte) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) provide that the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action is entitled to a property tax exemption of the total appraised value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead if: (a) the surviving spouse has not remarried; and (b) the property was the residence homestead of the member of the armed services when the member died; and (2) provide that a surviving spouse who qualifies for an exemption that subsequently qualifies a different property as the surviving spouse’s residence homestead is entitled to a property tax exemption of the subsequently-qualified homestead in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the exemption for the former homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried.  (Note: please see S.B. 163, above.)

SALES TAX

H.B. 357 (Giddings) – Sales Tax: would exempt certain school art supplies from sales tax during limited periods of time.

S.B. 158 (Carona) – Sales Tax: would amend the definition of “newspaper” for purposes of a sales tax exemption to include a newsprint publication for which each copy over a 30-day period does not exceed $3.00 (Note: the threshold cost for an exemption under current law is $1.50.)

ELECTIONS

H.B. 313 (Strama) – Voter Registration: would require the secretary of state to implement a program allowing a person who has a valid driver’s license or personal identification card to complete a voter registration application over the Internet from the official website of this state and the websites of the secretary of state, the Department of Public Safety, and counties participating in the program.

H.B. 396 (Thompson) – Absentee Voting: would provide that: (1) a person may apply with a single federal postcard application for a ballot for any one or more elections in which the person is eligible to vote; (2) an application that does not identify the election for which a ballot is requested shall be treated as if it requests a ballot for: (a) each general or special election held within one year after the date the application is received in which the person is eligible to vote; and (b) the general primary election if the application indicates party preference and is received within one year before the date of the general primary election; and (3) if an application described in (2) above, indicates the person is eligible to vote in an election in which the early voting clerk who received the application does not conduct early voting, the clerk shall forward a copy of the application in a form prescribed by the secretary of state to each early voting clerk who conduct early voting for an election in which the person is eligible to vote.

S.B. 160 (Huffman) – 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.

OPEN GOVERNMENT

H.B. 335 (Stickland) – Legal Notices: would provide that any political subdivision may satisfy a newspaper notice publication requirement by posting the notice on its Internet website.

OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS

H.B. 365 (Martinez) – Disease Presumption: would provide that: (1) a firefighter or emergency medical technician (EMT) who has a heart attack or stroke while on duty is presumed to have suffered the illness or death during the course and scope of employment, which means he or she would be covered by workers’ compensation for that condition; (2) a firefighter or EMT who contracts acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, or hepatitis C is presumed to have contracted the disease during the course and scope of employment, which means he or she would be covered by workers’ compensation for that condition if, while on duty: (a)  the firefighter  or EMT was exposed to a person with these diseases who received treatment from the firefighter or EMT; or (b) the firefighter or EMT  regularly responded to scenes or calls  involving exposure to blood or other bodily fluids; and (3) a firefighter or EMT who contracts methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) resulting in illness or death is presumed to have suffered the illness or death during the course and scope of employment, which means he or she would be covered by workers' compensation for that condition if, while on duty, the firefighter or EMT was exposed to a person with MRSA who received treatment from the firefighter or EMT. 

H.B. 372 (Deshotel) – Contracts : would: (1) require a contractor, including a city, to: (a) classify a construction worker as an employee if the individual works  for wages or under a express or implied contract of hire; (b) pay an administrative penalty if it does not properly classify its construction workers; and (c) present an affidavit when doing work for a city or county, or the state, that its construction workers are properly classified; and (2) bar a contractor, including a city, for three years from contracting with a political subdivision or the state if the contractor knowingly misclassifies its construction workers. 

H.B. 374 (Guillen) – Economic Development Corporations: would expand the term “project,” in relation to Type A and B economic development corporations, to include the land, buildings, equipment, facilities, improvements, and expenditures required for the development, operation, or expansion of community libraries.

H.B. 382 (Burnam) – Settlement Agreements: would prohibit the state and local governments from keeping certain information related to settlement agreements in some civil cases confidential.

S.B. 156 (West) – Taxes: would require the Legislative Budget Board to: (1) include in any fiscal note that authorizes or provides for a diversion of state funds or a tax preference a statement of the purposes of the bill along with reasonable benchmarks to measure if the bill’s purposes have been achieved; and (2) issue a report on whether the benchmarks have been met before the first day of the third regular legislative session after a bill with a diversion of state funds or a tax preference becomes law. 

MUNICIPAL COURTS

H.B. 310 (Guillen) – Alcohol Offenses: would allow a minor, for an offense other than driving or operating a watercraft under the influence, to enter a guilty plea without appearing in open court in front of a judge if the minor: (1) at the time the plea is entered, resides outside the county where the offense is alleged to have occurred, and (2) has not previously been convicted of an offense under the Alcoholic Beverage Code.

H.B. 321 (Dutton) – Community Supervision: would prohibit a dismissal and discharge under deferred adjudication community supervision from being used as grounds for denying housing, employment, or a professional license, and would also prohibit the Department of Family and Protective Services from using the fact that a defendant had previously received community supervision with a deferred adjudication of guilty in issuing, renewing, denying, or revoking a childcare facility license. 

H.B. 336 (Menendez) – Proof of Financial Responsibility: would allow a motor vehicle operator to provide evidence of financial responsibility in electronic format displayed on a wireless communication device, but would not prevent a court or the commissioner of insurance from requiring a person to provide a paper copy at later proceedings.

H.B. 350 (Canales) – Discovery: would require a municipal prosecutor, upon request by a defendant, before or during a trial, and subject to certain exceptions and existing rules of evidence, to make available to the defendant multiple types of discovery records related to the case and creates sanctions for a prosecutor’s failure to comply.

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC  DEVELOPMENT

H.B. 292 (Rodriguez) – Gambling: would: (1) legalize poker in Texas; (2) allow tribes, pari-mutuel license holders, and bingo license holders to have poker gaming; (3) tax poker proceeds received by businesses; and (4) provide that part of the proceeds of the state tax on poker would be used for city projects to help the homeless.

H.B. 351 (Canales) – Hotel Occupancy Tax: would limit the hotel occupancy tax exemption for “permanent residents” to stays of longer than 60 days (current law requires longer than 30 days).  

H.B. 371 (Alonzo) – Nonprofit Corporations: would: (1) authorize the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), as part of the acquisition of real property for right-of-way purposes, to take title to unusable remainder real property not used for right-of-way purposes; (2) require that the property be offered by TxDOT to a nonprofit corporation designated by the city in which the property is located or, if not in a city, a nonprofit designated by the county; and (3) require that the property be used for the public purpose of development and diversification of the state economy.

PERSONNEL

H.B. 318 (Giddings) – Employment: would: (1) make it an illegal employment practice for an employer, including a city, to require or request an employee or applicant to give their user name, password, or other access to their personal electronic accounts such as an e-mail or a social networking site account; (2) not prohibit an employer from accessing information about an employee or applicant on the Internet that is open to the public or managing an employee's use of city electronic equipment or use of electronic equipment during work hours. (This bill is identical to S.B. 118  by Hinojosa). 

PUBLIC SAFETY

H.B. 297  (Rodriguez) – Dangerous Dogs: would: (1) provide for a jury trial for dangerous dog trials in any court; (2) preempt state law or municipal ordinance that would not allow for a jury trial; (3) allow an appeal to county court for an animal control authority determination or a municipal court or justice court order regarding a dangerous dog; and (3) require a dog owner who utilizes the appeal process to post a bond in the amount of the cost to house the animal during the appeal.

H.B. 327 (Dutton) – Criminal History Records: would, in certain instances, require the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to provide written notice by mail to a person when DPS discloses or disseminates the person’s criminal history record information to another person or entity.

H.B. 328 (Dutton) – Official Oppression: would: (1) make the offense of official oppression a third degree felony if the conduct is intentional or knowing suppression of evidence favorable to a defendant and material to the defendant’s guilt or punishment in a criminal trial, and (2) eliminate the statute of limitation on the felony of official oppression.

H.B. 337 (Zedler) – Sexually Oriented Businesses: would: (1) create a state licensing scheme to be administered by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for owners, operators, employees, or independent contractors of sexually oriented businesses (SOB); and (2) provide that the bill’s licensing requirements are in addition to any municipal or county regulation and that, to the extent of a conflict between the bill and a municipal or county regulation, the bill controls.

H.B. 339 (Laubenberg) – Fire Control, Prevention, and Emergency Districts: would authorize a city with a population of not less than 5,000 nor more than 550,000 to propose the creation of a fire control, prevention, and emergency district.

H.B. 347 (Pitts) – Cell Phone Ban: would prohibit a motor vehicle operator from using a wireless communication device on the property of a public or private elementary or middle school.

H.B. 355 (Guillen) – Commercial Driver’s Licenses: would allow deferred disposition or driver safety course dismissal for a holder of a commercial driver’s license who violates a state law or local ordinance relating to motor vehicle control, so long as the individual was not operating a commercial motor vehicle when the offense occurred.

H.B. 359 (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 unless the person's status has already been determined by another agency from which the individual was transferred; and (2) notify  United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the judge authorized to rule on the person’s release if information reveals the person is unlawfully present in the United States. 

S.B. 20 (Patrick) – Intrusive Touching: would provide that a public servant commits an offense if, without probable cause and consent, the public servant searches a person who is entering a public building or transportation facility and touches the person in specified personal areas or in a way that is offensive or provocative.

UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT

H.B. 303 (Rodriguez) – Renewable Energy: would provide that, by January 1, 2020, at least 35 percent of electric generating capacity in the state come from renewable energy technologies, with at least two percent from solar energy technologies

H.B. 380 (Burnam) – Gas Pipeline Safety: would apply to a gas pipeline that is located in certain locations over the Barnett Shale, and would provide that a gathering or transmission pipeline may not be constructed within 50 feet of an established permanent structure that is used by human beings on a regular basis unless certain conditions are met.

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.

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