GOVERNOR’S VETOES INCLUDE CITY-RELATED BILLS

Governor Rick Perry has vetoed 24 bills passed by the legislature during the regular session. Five of the 24 were city-related bills described in the League’s “wrap-up” Legislative Update of June 3. Those five vetoes are detailed below:

  • H.B. 242 (Craddick/Hegar) – Law Enforcement/Texting While Driving: would have, among other things:  (1) required the head of a local law enforcement agency at which a person last served as a reserve law enforcement officer to issue the person photo identification if the person holds a certificate of proficiency; (2) prohibited the operator of a motor vehicle from using a hand-held wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating the vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped; (3) excepted the operator of a motor vehicle from prosecution for violating the prohibition in (2), above, if the operator uses a hand-held wireless communication device: (a) to read, select, or enter a phone number or name to make a phone call; (b) in conjunction with voice-operated technology or a hands-free device; or (c) to navigate using a global positioning system; and (4) excepted the operator of a motor vehicle from prosecution for violating the prohibition in (2), above, if the hand-held wireless communication device is used by the operator to relay information between the operator and a dispatcher in the course of the operator’s occupational duties and is affixed to the vehicle.

  • According to the governor’s veto message, “[t]exting while driving is reckless and irresponsible. I support measures that make our roads safer for everyone, but House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults. Current law already prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving. I believe there is a distinction between the overreach of House Bill 242 and the government's legitimate role in establishing laws for teenage drivers who are more easily distracted and laws providing further protection to children in school zones.”  The message further stated that, “[t]he keys to dissuading drivers of all ages from texting while driving are information and education. I recommend additional education on this issue in driving safety and driver's education courses, public service ads, and announcements, and I encourage individuals and organizations that testified in favor of the anti-texting language included in this bill to work with state and local leaders to educate the public of these dangers.”

  • H.B. 2403 (Otto/Ogden) – Sales Tax:  would have provided that a retailer is engaged in business in this state if the retailer: (1) holds a substantial ownership interest in, or is owned in whole or in substantial part by, a person who maintains a location in this state from which business is conducted if: (a) the retailer sells a substantially similar product as the related retailer and does so under a substantially similar name; and (b) the facilities or employees of the related retailer are used to advertise, promote, facilitate, or perform any other activity on behalf of the retailer; or (2) holds a substantial ownership interest in, or is owned in whole or in substantial part by, a person that maintains a distribution center, warehouse, or similar location in the state that delivers property sold by the retailer.

  • According to the governor’s veto message, he has “serious concerns about the impact and appropriateness of House Bill No. 2403. In particular, I believe this legislation risks significant unintended consequences. My strong preference is to conduct a thorough policy discussion with Texas lawmakers, consumers, retailers and technology experts – and with other states and even the federal government – about interstate commerce and the structure of state sales taxes in the 21st century. That conversation is underway, and I believe that a consensus can and should be reached that balances the competing interests, respects federalism, and is fair and equitable. I call on the legislature to review this issue further while we reach out to our federal delegation and our friends in other states to build consensus.”

  • H.B. 2499 (Cook/Nichols) – Department of Information Resources:  this is the Department of Information Resources sunset bill.  Of particular interest to cities, the bill would have: (1) required the department to adopt a process to determine the amount of the administrative fee the department charges to administer any of its programs and, among other things, requires that the amount of a fee directly relate to the amount necessary for the department to recover the cost of its operations; (2) required the board to establish rules regarding the approval requirements for all contracts; and (3) transferred certain powers to the comptroller, including the authority to charge an administrative fee to a city that purchases commodity items through the comptroller. 

  • According to the governor’s veto message, “House Bill 2499 seems to ignore the progress DIR’s new leadership has made in improving agency operations and efficiencies. The bill also undermines executive branch authority by removing a single state agency from data center consolidation, removing qualified and hardworking board members from their positions without cause, and removing DIR’s important procurement function during the ongoing re-procurement of data services.  I do not take lightly the impact this veto could have on the future of important state information resources functions. Therefore, I have asked the legislature to include legislation during the ongoing special session to extend DIR operations through 2017.  I also request DIR to closely examine the Sunset Commission report, as well as House Bill 2499, to help implement additional operational improvements, and to work closely with its agency customers and experts in the Office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts and office of the Attorney General, to constantly improve procurement efficiency and effectiveness.”

  • H.B. 2608 (Harper-Brown/Hinojosa) – Housing:  this is the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) sunset bill.  The bill, among many other things, would have provided that: (1) TDHCA is continued for 12 years; (2) pursuant to the Texas Disaster Act, each local and interjurisdictional agency shall prepare and keep current an emergency management plan for its area providing for disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery that identifies: (a) any requirements or procedures that local agencies and officials must satisfy or implement to qualify for long-term federal disaster recovery funding and prepare for long-term disaster recovery; and (b) any appropriate state or local resources available to assist the local agencies and officials in satisfying or implementing those requirements or procedures; (3) TDHCA, in consultation with the Texas Department of Rural Affairs and the office of the governor, shall develop – in  consultation with local government officials and others – a long-term disaster recovery plan to administer money received for disaster recovery from the federal government or any other source; and (4) if an application for low income housing tax credits satisfies TDHCA’s threshold criteria, TDHCA shall score and rank the application using a point system that takes into account, among other things, quantifiable community participation with respect to the development evaluated on the basis of a resolution concerning the development that is voted on and adopted by the governing body of a city whose boundaries contain the proposed development site. 

  • According to the governor’s veto message, the “bill would adopt the majority of the changes recommended by the Sunset Commission, most of which are technical clarifications on administrative procedures. The bill would continue the operations of the agency until 2023. However, overly prescriptive language was added to House Bill 2608 that would impose a new layer of bureaucracy that makes unrealistic demands of the state, delay assistance to communities hit by disasters and duplicate disaster planning conducted by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.  While this language may have been well-intentioned, in many instances it would require the state to issue plans for expenditure of federal disaster recovery funds before federal agencies have announced the rules governing the expenditure of those funds.  I do not take lightly the impact this veto may have in potentially shutting down TDHCA over the next year. That is why I have asked the legislature during this special session to amend language in pending legislation to continue the operation of TDHCA.”

  • H.B. 2972 (T. Smith/Wentworth) – Street Maintenance Sales Tax:  would have provided that: (1) a city in which at least 66 percent or more of the voters in the previous two consecutive elections regarding the adoption or reallocation of the tax favored the adoption or reallocation of the tax may call an election to reauthorize the street maintenance sales tax for eight years; and (2) revenue from the street maintenance sales tax may be used to maintain and repair sidewalks.

  • According to the governor’s veto message, “House Bill 2972 would restrict Texans’ power to vote on whether to maintain or increase a street maintenance tax. House Bill 2972 would allow municipalities to delay voter input by limiting the tax elections to once every eight years rather than the current four-year period. Texans should have the right to vote on tax measures sooner rather than later.”

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