SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTIONS
H.B. 410 (Isett), relating to concealed handguns. Passed the House. On the House floor, lawmakers added an amendment that requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to promulgate a rule under which a peace officer who provides the department with a persons drivers license number, personal identification certificate number, or vehicle license plate number as part of a motor vehicle stop or other law enforcement inquiry is prohibited from receiving information from the department as to whether the person is the holder of a license issued under this subchapter unless the officer indicates that information is necessary for proper law enforcement purposes related to the persons possession or carrying of a handgun. (Note: police chiefs should take note of this bill.)
H.B. 806 (Gallego), requiring that health benefit plans provide coverage for prosthetics. Passed the Senate.
H.B. 1054 (Mallory Caraway), relating to proof of financial responsibility for a vehicle. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would provide that: (1) a court shall dismiss a charge of not having proof of financial responsibility if the defendant proves that financial responsibility was valid at the time the offense occurred; (2) the court may assess a $10 administrative fee on such occasions; and (3) a motor vehicle operated by a person who cannot show proof of financial responsibility may be impounded by a police officer if the city has written policies authorizing but not mandating the impoundment. The bill appears to provide that a police officer may impound the vehicle or issue a ticket, but may not do both.
H.B. 1433 (Lucio), raising the cap on the annual water quality fee imposed on a city by TCEQ. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would, on September 1, 2009, raise the maximum fee from $75,000 to $100,000. The bill would also allow the TCEQ to thereafter raise the maximum fee annually by an amount that reflects growth in the CPI, up to a maximum amount of $150,000 annually.
H.B. 1526 (Crownover), relating to placing natural gas pipelines in a public right-of-way. Passed the House.
H.B. 2230 (Parker), repealing the requirement that interest is due on back taxes when land loses its agricultural appraisal. Passed the House.
H.B. 2685 (Callegari), requiring that an entity with eminent domain authority provide to a landowner a copy of the landowners bill of rights when the entity first represents to the landowner that the entity has eminent domain authority and before the entity makes a final offer to acquire the property. Passed the House.
H.B. 3454 (Otto), relating to property tax appraisals. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would: (1) provide that all available evidence relating to the value of property must be taken into account in appraising property; and (2) enumerate detailed conditions regarding the consideration of comparable sales, including a requirement that a comparable sale must have been completed within 24 months of the date of the appraisal.
S.B. 18 (Estes), relating to the use of eminent domain authority. Passed the Senate. As passed, the bill would do the following.
- provide that a governmental or private entity may not acquire private property through the use of eminent domain if the taking is not for a public use.
- require a record vote with specific procedures and wording to acquire each parcel of land through the use of eminent domain.
- require that any entity authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain must submit to the state comptroller, by December 31, 2010, a letter stating that the entity is authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain and identifying the provision or provisions of law that grant the entity that authority; and the bill would provide that the entitys authority to use eminent domain will expire if the letter is not sent by the deadline.
- provide that: (a) an entity with eminent domain authority that wants to acquire real property shall disclose to the property owner any and all appraisal reports produced or acquired by the entity relating specifically to the owners property and prepared in the ten years preceding the offer; and (b) require the entity to pay for an appraisal of the property at a property owners request.
- provide that: (a) an entity seeking to acquire property may not include a confidentiality provision in an offer or agreement to acquire the property; and (b) the entity shall inform the owner of the property that the owner has the right to discuss any offer or agreement regarding the entitys acquisition of the property with others or keep the offer or agreement confidential (subject to the requirements of the Texas Public Information Act).
- require an entity with eminent domain authority that wants to acquire real property for a public use to make a bona fide offer to acquire the property from the property owner voluntarily, in accordance with a list of specific criteria that must be met under the bona fide offer requirement.
- provide that a court that determines that a condemnor did not make a bona fide offer to acquire the property from the property owner voluntarily must abate the suit, order the condemnor to make a bona fide offer, and order the condemnor to pay costs and attorneys and other professionals fees.
- provide that a condemnation petition must state with specificity the public purpose for which the entity intends to use the property, the reasons the property is necessary for that public use, and that the city made a good faith offer to acquire the property voluntarily.
- provide that each party has a reasonable period to strike one of the three special commissioners appointed by the judge in the case, with the judge appointing a replacement.
- provide that the special commissioners shall consider an injury or benefit that is peculiar to the property owner and that relates to the property owner s ownership, use, or enjoyment of the particular parcel of real property, including a material impairment of direct access on or off the remaining property that affects the market value of the remaining property, but they may not consider an injury or benefit that the property owner experiences in common with the general community, including circuity of travel and diversion of traffic.
- require a city, as a cost of acquiring real property, to: (a) provide a relocation advisory service for an individual, a family, a business concern, a farming or ranching operation, or a nonprofit organization that is compatible with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act; and (b) pay moving expenses and rental supplements, make relocation payments, provide financial assistance to acquire replacement housing, and compensate for expenses incidental to the transfer of the property if an individual, a family, the personal property of a business, a farming or ranching operation, or a nonprofit organization is displaced in connection with the acquisition.
- modify the current provisions that allow a property owner to repurchase the property if it isnt used by the condemnor within ten years of the condemnation.
- provide that the property may be used for a substantially similar public purpose without the right to repurchase being invoked by a property owner.
- provide that a city council may adopt a development plan for a public use project at a public hearing to toll the ten-year right to repurchase.
- modify the standard for determination of the fair value of the states interest in access rights to a highway right-of-way to be the same legal standard that is applied by the Texas Transportation Commission according to the Texas Transportation Code, which may include the impairment of highway access to or from real property where the real property adjoins the highway.
S.B. 61 (Zaffirini), relating to child safety seats. Passed the Senate. As passed, this bill would: (1) reduce the fine for transporting a child without a proper safety seat from $100-$200 to $25; and (2) require a city to remit the entire fine to the state comptroller.
S.B. 1120 (West), relating to racial profiling. Passed the Senate. (Note: police chiefs should read this bill carefully.)
S.B. 1202 (Deuell), relating to the collection and allocation of local sales taxes. Passed the Senate.
S.B. 1358 (Seliger), relating to the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS). Passed the Senate. As passed, this bill would allow a TMRS member city to calculate the amount of a retirees cost of living adjustment (COLA) annually as an increase in the current benefit only.
S.B. 2145 (West), relating to publication of notice for certain municipal procurements. Passed the Senate.
S.B. 2242 (Zaffirini), relating to ethics reports. Passed the Senate. As passed, this bill would: (1) permit, but not require, a city or a candidate for city office to use Texas Ethics Commission software and other resources to file certain campaign reports; and (2) permit the commission to assist local governments in adopting their own software for managing campaign disclosures.