CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

PROPERTY TAX

H.B. 428 (Creighton) – Property Tax: would reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten to five percent.  (Note:  please see H.J.R. 58, below.)

H.B. 538 (Y. Davis) – Property Tax:  would repeal several property tax exemptions, including the Freeport property tax exemption, super Freeport property tax exemption, and the property tax exemption for pollution control equipment, among many others.

H.B. 440 (Alonzo) – Property Tax:  would require a religious organization that owns property for which the organization receives a property tax exemption to file a report with the chief appraiser each year that: (1) lists the real property owned by the organization that is exempted from property taxes; (2) lists the Tax Code provision that grants the property tax exemption; (3) describes how the property is used by the organization; and (4) states the amount of any income derived by the organization from each listed property. 

H.B. 548 (C. Turner) – 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 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) 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 H.J.R. 62, below.)

H.J.R. 58 (Creighton) – 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 H.B. 428,above.)

H.J.R. 62 (C. Turner) – 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 H.B. 548, above.)

SALES TAX

S.B. 175 (Estes) – Sales Tax: 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.  (Note:  Please see S.J.R. 17, below.) (Companion billis H.B. 162 by Larson.)

S.J.R. 17 (Estes) – Sales Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that, for each state fiscal year, the net revenue received from the collection of any state taxes imposed on the sale, storage, or use of sporting goods is automatically appropriated when received to the Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission, or their successors in function, and is allocated between those agencies as provided by general law.  (Note:  Please see S.B. 175, above.) (Companion resolution is H.J.R. 40 by Larson.)

PURCHASING

H.B. 493 (Hernandez Luna) – Construction Safety:  would provide that: (1) to the extent consistent with federal law, a governmental entity – including a city – that enters into a construction contract must require that the contractor ensure that all employees working on the general construction site have completed construction safety training, as shown by a certificate of training completion for the employee; and (2) a governmental entity shall include in the contract various notice and penalty provisions. (Companion bill is S.B. 167 by Deuell.) 

S.B. 167 (Deuell) – Construction Safety:  this bill is the same as H.B. 493, above.

ELECTIONS

H.B. 464 (Johnson) – Voter Registration: would provide that a person who would be eligible to vote in an election, but who is not registered, shall be accepted for voting in the precinct of the person’s residence if, on the day the person offers to vote, the person submits a voter registration application and presents proof of identification.

H.B. 465 (Johnson) – Voter Identification: would repeal the law that requires a voter to show a photo identification to vote (S.B. 14, 2011 Session).  In addition, the bill would provide that: (1) a voter who, when offering to vote, presents a voter registration certificate indicating that the voter is currently registered in a different precinct from the one in which the voter is offering to vote, and whose name is not on the precinct list of registered voters, shall be accepted for voting if the voter executes an affidavit stating the voter is or was a resident of the precinct at the time the information on the voter’s residence address was last provided to the voter registrar; and (2) a voter who does not present a voter registration certificate when offering to vote, but whose name is on the list of registered voters for the precinct, shall be accepted for voting if the voter executes an affidavit stating that the voter does not have the voter’s voter registration certificate in the voter’s possession at the polling place at the time of voting and the voter presents proof of identification, and if requirements are not met, the voter may be accepted for provisional voting.

H.B. 467 (Johnson) – Elections: would amend early voting hours at each permanent or temporary branch polling place to be conducted on the same days and during the same hours as voting is conducted at the main early voting polling place.

H.B. 491 (Hernandez Luna) – Early Voting: would provide that, if a political subdivision holds an election on a uniform election date and is required to use the regular county election precincts, the political subdivision shall designate as the polling places for the election the regular county polling places in the county election precincts that contain territory from the political subdivision.  (Note:  Under current law, this provision applies only to elections held on the November uniform election date.)

H.B. 547 (Dukes) – Elections:  would, among many other things, authorize early voting by mail for any qualified voter and provide for implementing procedures. (Companion bill is S.B. 83 by Ellis.)

S.B. 169 (Hegar) – 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.

OPEN GOVERNMENT

H.B. 526 (Capriglione) – Public Information Act:  would: (1) make every record held by a public retirement system open to the public; and (2) preempt any other law making any information in a public retirement record confidential. 

OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS

H.B. 470 (White) – Official Misconduct:  would, among other things:  (1) require that an elected officer of a city who receives remuneration (e.g., salary, per diem, expense reimbursement, longevity pay, or fees) associated with the office to:  (a) perform all the duties of the office for as long as the officer holds the office; and (b) be physically present on a regular basis at a location at which official business of the city is ordinarily conducted; and (2) provide that an intentional violation of (1), above, constitutes official misconduct for which an officer of a general law city may be removed from office.

H.B. 489 (Menendez) – Assistance Animals:  would, among other things:  (1) provide that a person is not entitled to make demands or inquiries relating to the qualification or certifications of an assistance animal for purposes of admittance to a public facility except to determine the basic type of assistance provided by the animal to a person with a disability; (2) require that a person with a disability, upon reasonable request by a person in a public facility, provide a brief explanation of the basic type of assistance provided by an assistance animal; (3) provide that a person, including a public organization or the agent of a public organization, who violates (1), above, is guilty of a class B misdemeanor and is deemed to have deprived a person with a disability of his or her civil liberties; and (4) make it a class B misdemeanor for a person to misrepresent that an animal is a specially trained assistance animal by using a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities. 

H.B. 520 (Kuempel) – Autopsy: would require a city to pay for the autopsy of a body found within the city limits.

H.B. 521 (Kuempel) – Insurance Payments: would: (1) require automobile insurers to allow individuals to assign benefits to an emergency medical services provider; and (2) allow an automobile insurer to provide for payment of benefits to an emergency medical services provider even if an assignment is not made. 

H.B. 522 (Kuempel) – Insurance Payments: would: (1) require a health insurer to allow an insured to assign benefits to a health provider, including an ambulance service, that provides services to the insured; (2) allow an insurer to provide for payment of benefits to a health provider, including an ambulance service, even if an assignment is not made; and (3) require an insurer to pay a preferred provider directly without an assignment of benefits.

H.B. 537 (Y. Davis) – Taxes:  would require the sunset commission to: (1) evaluate each property tax and other state tax exemption in accordance with a schedule adopted by the commission; and (2) present its evaluation and recommendations of tax exemptions to the legislature each legislative session.

H.J.R. 59 (Creighton) – Mandatory Health Insurance: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) prohibit a city or other governmental entity from imposing or enforcing a penalty or sanction for an individual’s choice to have or not have health insurance; and (2) protect the right of a city to have a contract for the provision of health insurance coverage.

MUNICIPAL COURTS

H.B. 438 (Dutton) – Occupational Driver’s License: would allow a person whose license has been suspended for a cause other than a disability or driving while intoxicated conviction to apply for an occupational license with the clerk of a justice or municipal court.

H.B. 497 (Hernandez Luna) – Juveniles: would make all records and files relating to a child who is charged with or convicted of a fine-only misdemeanor offense, other than a traffic offense, confidential. (This bill is identical to H.B. 528 by Turner.)

H.B. 528 (Turner) – Juveniles: this bill is identical to H.B. 497, above.   

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC  DEVELOPMENT

H.B. 403 (S. Davis) – Building Inspectors:  would: (1) define a “certified municipal inspector” as an individual who is employed full-time by a political subdivision and is currently:  (a) certified by a national model code group; or (b) licensed as a plumbing inspector; and (2) provide that a certified municipal inspector who provides services as a volunteer during a declared disaster in response to a request or approval from an authorized official is not liable for civil damages, including personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, or other loss related to the inspector's act, error, or omission in the performance of the services, unless the act, error, or omission constitutes gross negligence or wanton, willful, or intentional misconduct.

H.B. 421 (Thompson) – Liquor Sales:  would extend the hours and days that liquor may be sold, offered for sale, or delivered.

H.B. 429 (Guillen) – Housing Tax Credits:  would expand the cities considered to be in “rural areas” under the low income housing tax credit program from cities under 20,000 to cities under 25,000. 

H.B. 449 (Dukes) – Xeriscaping:  would, among other things: (1) prohibit a city from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or order that prohibits or unreasonably restricts a property owner from xeriscaping the owner’s property; and (2) define the term “xeriscaping” to mean a landscaping method that maximizes the conservation of water by using plants that are appropriate to the site and efficient water-use techniques, including:  planning and design; choice of plants; soil analysis; soil improvement using compost; efficient and appropriate irrigation; use of turf; use of mulch; and proper maintenance.

H.B. 476 (Kolkhorst) – Eminent Domain: would provide, in relation to the later repurchase of property acquired through eminent domain, that: (1) an entity with eminent domain authority that makes a bona fide offer to acquire property must state with specificity in the initial and final offers the public use for which the entity intends to acquire the property; (2) an entity with eminent domain authority shall disclose in writing to the property owner, at the time of acquisition of the property through eminent domain, including an acquisition through a purchase made by the entity in connection with an initial offer that, in addition to other things, that the initial use of the property is not the public use for which the property was acquired; (3) actual progress towards completion of a project no longer includes: (a) the acquisition of a tract or parcel of real property adjacent to the property for the same public use project for which the owner's property was acquired; or (b) for a governmental entity, the adoption by a majority of the entity’s governing body at a public hearing of a development plan for a public use project that indicates that the entity will not complete more than one action towards completion before the 10th anniversary of the date of acquisition of the property; (4) not later than the 180th day after the date an entity that acquired a real property interest through eminent domain determines that the former property owner is entitled to repurchase the property, the entity shall send by certified mail to the property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns a notice containing, among other things, a note that the initial use of the property was not the public use for which the property was acquired; and (5) after the first anniversary of the date on which real property was acquired by an entity through eminent domain, a property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns may annually request that the entity make a determination and provide a statement and other relevant information regarding, among other things, whether the initial use of the property was the public use for which the property was acquired.

H.B. 540 (Alonzo) – Residential Tenancies:  would: (1) prohibit a city from requiring a landlord to: (a) refuse to lease to a prospective tenant or renew a lease solely on the basis of the immigration status of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s family; or (b) inquire as to the immigration status of a tenant, prospective tenant, or a tenant’s family member; and (2)  provide that the bill prevails if the prohibition in (1), above, conflicts with common law, another state statute, or a local ordinance or regulation.

H.B. 545 (J. Davis) – Spaceport Development Corporations: would authorize a city to create a spaceport development corporation and the city council to appoint the board of directors of the corporation.

PERSONNEL

H.B. 298 (Rodriguez) – Payday Law:  would create a cause of action for retaliation against an employer (not including a city) if an employer does not pay wages in a legal manner, including complying with any federal, state, or local ordinance, order, or law. 

H.B. 451 (Dukes) – 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. 

H.B. 475 (Walle) – Workers’ Compensation:  would: (1) require construction contractors and subcontractors to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for each of their employees; (2) require contractors to provide certification of coverage of its and any subcontractor's employees to the governmental entity;  and (3) provide that, if the contractor enters into a contract with a governmental entity for a public project, the coverage must be satisfactory to the governing body of the governmental entity.

H.B. 483 (Aycock) – Employee Contracts: would: (1)  prohibit a city from paying more than the contracted amount to an employee or former employee unless the city has an open public meeting regarding the matter; and (2) require a city to make certain statements regarding the possible payment at the open public meeting. 

H.B. 508 (Guillen) – Concealed Handguns: would: (1) define a “public employee” as an employee or appointed officer other than an independent contractor who is paid to perform services for a state or local governmental entity, and (2) make it a class C misdemeanor for a public employee to provide notice to a concealed handgun licensee that entering or remaining on a premises or other place owned or leased by a governmental entity is prohibited if: (a) the license holder is not prohibited from carrying a handgun on the premises or other place; and (b) the public employee is reckless as to whether a license holder is prohibited from carrying a handgun on the premises or other place.

PUBLIC SAFETY

H.B. 439 (Dutton) – Civil Rights: would apply the restoration of civil rights to any offense under Texas law and require that the conviction occur three or more years before the date of application.

H.B. 435 (Turner) – Blood Specimens: would prevent a police officer from taking a blood specimen from a person arrested for driving under the influence of driving while intoxicated, even if the officer was otherwise authorized to take a blood specimen.

H.B. 434 (Riddle) – Blood Specimens: would allow a licensed or certified emergency medical technician-intermediate or emergency medical technician-paramedic to take a blood specimen if authorized by the physician for the entity.

H.B. 447 (Dukes) – Mental Health Emergency Detention:  would provide that: (1) a peace officer who takes a person into custody under suspicion of mental illness shall immediately inform the person orally in simple, nontechnical terms: (a) of the reason for the detention; and (b) that the person will be informed of the person’s rights within three hours after the time the person is initially transported to a mental health facility; (2) the person must be informed of the person’s rights in simple, nontechnical terms, within three hours after the time the person is initially transported to the mental health facility; and (3) the Health and Human Services Commission by rule shall prescribe the manner in which the person is informed of the rights. 

H.B. 461 (Menendez) – Private Security: would limit the exemptions for individuals required to comply with the Private Security Act to current peace officers who are currently employed by a law enforcement agency.  (The bill is unclear as to whether all officers, or only the heads of law enforcement agencies, retain the exemption.)   

H.B. 487 (Bell) – Emergency Management: would: (1) allow a city or county to request or accept the use of a private individual’s construction or heavy equipment if needed for a hazardous or emergency situation; and (2) give immunity to individuals who provide or operate equipment to a city or county in this manner. 

H.B. 488 (Turner) – 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.

H.B. 501 (Hernandez Luna) – Felony Forfeiture: would permit a law enforcement agency to set aside up to ten percent of felony forfeiture funds for scholarships for the children of local officers killed in the line of duty.

H.B. 516 (Pitts) – Blood Specimen:  would allow a warrant issued to collect a blood specimen from a person suspected of committing certain intoxication offenses to be executed in a county contiguous to the county in which the warrant is issued, regardless of whether the issuing court’s jurisdiction extends outside the county in which that court is located.

H.B. 530 (Fletcher) – Interception of Communications:  would, among other things: (1) authorize a police department in a city with a population of 500,000 or more to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication in a situation that is not an immediate life-threatening situation if the department adopts a written protocol policy that is approved by the director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS); (2) require the police chief to submit to the DPS director a list of peace officers authorized to possess, install, monitor, or operate wire, oral, or electronic communications intercept equipment; (3) authorize the DPS to conduct an audit of police departments to ensure compliance with their approved written protocol; (4) provide that a police department’s authority to intercept communications be relinquished if, after certain notice, the department fails to comply with its approved written protocol; (5) require peace officers authorized to operate or monitor the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication to complete at least 16 hours of training; (6) provide that, in a court order, the initial period of communications interception begins on the earlier of the date interception begins or the tenth day after the interception order is entered; and (7) require the DPS director to report certain information about a police department’s interception activity to the governor and certain other state officials.

H.B. 534 (Kleinschmidt) – Resisting Arrest: would increase the penalty for resisting arrest or search to a state jail felony if the defendant has been previously convicted of resisting arrest or search. 

S.B. 171 (West) – Emergency Management:  would establish a workgroup of emergency management members, including local government officials, to determine whether a uniform application form for disaster assistance can be developed.

UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT

H.B. 4 (Ritter) – State Water Plan Funding:  would provide that: (1) the state water implementation fund for Texas is created as a special fund outside the state treasury; (2) the fund consists of: (a) money transferred or deposited to the credit of the fund by law; (b) the proceeds of any fee or tax imposed by this state that the legislature by statute dedicates for deposit to the credit of the fund; (c) any other revenue that the legislature by statute dedicates for deposit to the credit of the fund; and (d) interest earned on the balance of the fund; (3) the Texas Water Development Board (board) may use money in the fund only to provide financing for: (a) certain projects included in the state water plan, including water conservation or reuse projects designed to reduce the need for this state or political subdivisions of this state to develop additional water resources; or (b) education projects developed or approved by the board that are related to the development of water resources, the conservation of existing water resources, or water reuse; (4) not less than 20 percent of the money from the fund used by the board in any state fiscal biennium must be used to finance projects described by (3), above, for water conservation or reuse or education; (5) the board shall undertake to use money from the fund in an amount sufficient to provide adequate financing for projects described by (3), above, in each regional water planning area in the state, and the board shall prioritize projects in each regional water planning area for that purpose; (6) the board may direct the comptroller to transfer amounts from the fund to the credit of: (a) the water infrastructure fund to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (b) the rural water assistance fund to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (c) the Texas Water Development Fund II state participation account to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (d) the agricultural water conservation fund to be used for projects included in the state water plan; or (e) the Texas Water Development Fund II economically distressed areas program account to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (7) the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee is created and is composed of members appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, the lieutenant governor, and the governor; and (8) the advisory committee shall submit recommendations to the board regarding the use of money in the fund for use by the board.

H.B. 11 (Ritter) – State Water Plan Funding:  would provide that: (1) if the state water implementation fund for Texas is created by legislation during the 2013 regular session (see, e.g., H.B. 4, above), the amount of $2 billion is appropriated from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to the comptroller for the purpose of depositing that amount to the credit of the state water implementation fund for Texas as money available for use by the Texas Water Development Board for the purposes of the state water implementation fund for Texas; or (2) if the state water implementation fund for Texas is not created, the amount of $2 billion is appropriated from the Rainy Day Fund to the comptroller for the purpose of depositing that amount to the credit of the Texas Water Development Fund II as money available for use by the Texas Water Development Board. 

H.B. 404 (S. Davis) – Liability:  would limit the liability for certain public utilities if an individual was using public utility property for recreational purposes if the utility displays a notice with specific language stating the limitation of liability at the property. 

H.B. 426 (Creighton) – TCEQ Rulemaking: would require Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to conduct a regulatory analysis before adopting an environmental rule.

H.B. 448 (Dukes) -- Gas Drilling:  would require gas drillers to notify nearby residents of the list of chemicals to be used in hydraulic fracturing in the area.

TRANSPORTATION

H.B. 479 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would provide that the comptroller shall deposit a certain portion of the motor vehicle sales tax  to the credit of the state’s general revenue fund, with certain limitations, and shall deposit the remaining  amount to the credit of the state highway fund.

H.B. 514 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would provide that, beginning in increments in 2013 and completed in 2018, the net revenue derived from the state sales tax imposed on the sale of a motor vehicle sold in this state shall be deposited to the credit of the state highway fund.

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