SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTIONS

H.B. 27 (Guillen), relating to the payment of fines and costs by indigent defendants in misdemeanor cases.  Reported from the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.

H.B. 51 (Lucio), Relating to energy efficiency standards for certain buildings and to high-performance design, construction, and renovation standards for certain government buildings and facilities.  Reported from the House Committee on State Affairs.

H.B. 243 (Craddick), Relating to the creation of an offense for certain uses of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.  Reported from the House Committee on Transportation.  As reported, the bill would prohibit an operator from using a wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped, and would define text-based communication to include a text message, instant message, and electronic mail.

H.B. 571 (Huberty), Relating to the regulation of certain aggregate production operations by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  Reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources.  As reported, the bill would place new registration, inspection, and reporting requirements on aggregate quarries, as well as creating fees and enforcement authority through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  (The bill as reported would not appear to preempt any city regulations relating to aggregate quarries, but any city that regulates quarry operations should review this bill closely.)(Companion bill is S.B. 170 by Williams, which has passed the Senate.)

H.B. 769 (Button), Relating to change order approval requirements for certain political subdivisions of the state.  Reported from the House Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform.

H.B. 943 (Dukes), Relating to reporting requirements concerning missing persons, including missing children in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services.  Reported from the House Committee on Human Services.

H.B. 1215 (McCLendon), Relating to the creation of the offense of unauthorized acquisition or transfer of certain financial information.  Reported from the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.

H.B. 1376 (Bohac), Relating to the definition of a junked vehicle for purposes of abatement of a public nuisance.  Reported from the House Committee on Transportation.

H.B. 1734 (Ritter), Relating to the authority of the Texas Water Development Board to provide financial assistance for certain projects if the applicant has failed to complete a request for information relevant to the project.  Reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources.  As reported, the bill would prohibit an applicant for financial assistance or loans from the Texas Water Development Board from receiving assistance if the applicant has failed to provide certain information to the board.

H.B. 1869 (Giddings), Relating to local governments that may consider a bidders principal place of business when awarding a contract.  Reported from the House Committee on County Affairs.

H.J.R. 56 (Solomons), Proposing a constitutional amendment to restrict the power of the legislature to mandate requirements upon certain local governments.  Reported from the House Committee on House State Affairs.  As reported, the bill would state that any law, enacted by the legislature on or after January 1, 2012, that requires a local government, including a city, to establish, expand, or  modify a duty or activity that requires the expenditure of revenue by the city is not effective unless the legislature appropriates or otherwise provides, from a source other than the revenue of the city, for the payment or reimbursement  of the costs incurred for the biennium by the city in complying with the requirement. 

S.B. 201 (Uresti), Relating to the calculation of ad valorem taxes on the residence homestead of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran for the tax year in which the veteran qualifies or ceases to qualify for an exemption from taxation.  Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 326 (Duncan), Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of certain tangible personal property stored temporarily at a location in this state.  Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 355 (Ellis), Relating to the elimination of smoking in certain workplaces and public places.  Reported from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  As reported, this bill would: (1) preempt and supersede a local ordinance, rule, or regulation adopted by any political subdivision relating to smoking; but (2) provide that, to the extent that a local ordinance, rule, or regulation adopted by a political subdivision prohibits or restricts smoking to a greater degree than the bill, the ordinance, rule, or regulation is not preempted or superseded.

S.B. 403 (Eltife), Relating to the consideration of pension and other postemployment benefits in establishing the rates of a gas utility.  Reported from the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.  As reported, the bill would provide that: (1) in establishing a gas utility rates, the regulatory authority (e.g., a city or the Texas Railroad Commission) shall allow recovery of the gas utility costs of pensions and other postemployment benefits, as determined by actuarial or other similar studies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, in amounts the regulatory authority finds reasonable and necessary; and (2) a gas utility must follow detailed and complex procedures related to the calculation of such recovery.

S.B. 432 (Jackson), Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area.  Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 551 (Williams), Relating to liability for interest on ad valorem taxes on improvements that escaped taxation in a previous year.  Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 642 (Seliger), Relating to optional annuity increases for certain retirees and beneficiaries of the Texas Municipal Retirement System.  Reported from the Senate Committee on State Affairs.  As reported, the bill would provide that:  (1) a participating Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) city may adopt a non-retroactive flat rate Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA); (2) to comply with federal law applicable to qualified plans, any increased payment to an annuitant resulting from such a COLA adopted by a city would be limited to the cumulative increase the annuitant would have been entitled to receive if the 70 percent of CPI limit under TMRS’s existing law had been applied to the annuity; and (3) if a city adopts an ordinance to either discontinue an annually repeating COLA or to reduce an annually repeating COLA, the city must give written notice to members and annuitants at least 60 days prior to the effective date of the change adopted in the ordinance.

S.B. 655 (Hegar), Relating to the abolition of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the creation of the Texas Oil and Gas Commission, and the transfer of the powers and duties of the railroad commission to the oil and gas commission.  Reported from the Senate Government Organization Committee.  As reported, the bill would abolish the Texas Railroad Commission, create the Texas Oil and Gas Commission, transfer of the powers and duties of the Railroad Commission to the new commission, and among many other things provide that the Texas Railroad Commission (or the new Texas Oil and Gas Commission) may by rule prescribe or adopt safety standards for the transportation of gas and for gas pipeline facilities, including safety standards related to the prevention of damage to an interstate or intrastate gas pipeline facility resulting from the movement of earth by a person in the vicinity of the facility, other than movement by tillage that does not exceed a depth of 16 inches.

S.B. 760 (West), Relating to the term of interlocal contracts.  Reported from the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations.  As reported, the bill would provide that an interlocal contract between cities or counties may have a specified term of years.

S.B. 779 (Whitmire), Relating to a central database containing information about certain persons who have been convicted of or received a grant of deferred adjudication for certain offenses involving animal cruelty.  Reported from the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

S.B. 908 (Fraser), Relating to requirements for businesses that offer plastic checkout bags to customers.  Reported from the Senate Natural Resources Committee.  As reported, the bill would: (1) require certain businesses to take certain actions to reduce the use of plastic checkout bags; and (2) preempt a conflicting local ordinance or rule.  (At the hearing on the bill, the author of the Senate version of the bill stated that its purpose is not to ban plastic bags, but rather “just to start down that road.”  Another senator questioned the author on why the bill preempts cities from enacting more stringent ordinances.  To view the senate hearing, go to http://www.wwwebinars.com/LU3-31/SenateNaturalResourcesS.B.908(plasticbags).swf.) 

S.B. 1034 (Watson), Relating to the date of the general election of certain municipalities.  Reported from the Senate State Affairs Committee.  As reported, the bill would provide that the governing body of a political subdivision other than a county, that holds its general election for officers on a date other than the November uniform election date may, not later than December 31, 2012, change the date on which it holds its general election for officers to the November uniform election date.

S.B. 1187 (Watson), Relating to the effect of indexing notices of lis pendens.  Reported from the Senate Jurisprudence Committee.

S.J.R. 26 (West), Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.  As reported, the bill would allow a city to enter into a multiyear interlocal contract with another city or county without having to meet interest and sinking fund requirements, even if such contract creates a debt.


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