CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

PROPERTY TAX

H.B. 113 (Raymond) – Property Tax:  would provide a complete residence homestead property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a 100-percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the disabled veteran. (Note: Please see H.J.R. 28.)

H.B. 214 (Pickett) – Property Tax:  this bill is identical to H.B. 113, above. (Note: Please see H.J.R. 21.)

H.B. 215 (Pickett) – Property Tax:  would provide that a contract between a taxing unit’s tax collector and a property owner, under which the property owner deposits money in an escrow account, may establish the escrow account for either one tax year or multiple tax years. 

H.B. 229 (Isaac) – Property Tax:  would provide that: (1) the surviving spouse of an individual who dies while on active duty as a member of the armed services of the United States 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. 50, below.)

H.B. 236 (Riddle) – Property Tax:  would provide that a peace officer may receive a residence homestead property tax exemption without the chief appraiser independently verifying the address of the property for which the exemption is claimed if the peace officer holds a driver’s license that omits the officer’s actual residence address. 

H.J.R. 50 (Isaac) – Property Tax:  would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) provide that the surviving spouse of an individual who dies while on active duty as a member of the armed services of the United States 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. 229, above.) 

S.B. 140 (Ellis) – Taxes:  would: (1) require the comptroller to identify all state and local tax preferences and present a schedule to the Legislative Budget Board every odd-numbered year under which each tax preference is reviewed once during each six-year period; (2) require the Legislative Budget Board to evaluate all state and local tax preferences and make recommendations for continuing, repealing, or amending each preference; and (3) provide that each tax preference enacted by the legislature that becomes law after September 1, 2014 expires six years after the date it takes effect, unless the legislature provides an earlier or later expiration date.  (Note: please see S.J.R. 12, below.) 

S.B. 144 (Williams) – Property Tax:  would:  (1) reduce the property tax rollback rate from 108 percent to 105 percent; and (2) permit an individual city to raise its rollback rate back to 108 percent if:  (a) any part of the city is located in an area declared a disaster by the governor or president; or (b) the city council finds that the higher rate is necessary to protect the health, safety, or property of persons in the city, provided such finding is in the form of a resolution, includes a description of the expected harm, and is approved by a record vote of the council.

S.J.R. 12 (Ellis) –Taxes:  would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) require the legislature to implement the necessary procedures for the periodic review of state and local tax preferences; and (2) provide that each tax preference enacted by the legislature that becomes law after September 1, 2014 expires six years after the date it takes effect, unless the legislature provides an earlier or later expiration date.  (Note: please see S.B. 140, above.)

SALES TAX

H.B. 230 (Isaac) – Sales Tax:  would exempt the sale, use, or consumption of college textbooks from sales taxes during two, seventeen-day periods, one beginning in August and one beginning in January.

PURCHASING

H.B. 123 (D. Anderson) – Purchasing:  would provide that an interlocal contract between a governmental entity and a purchasing cooperative may not be used to purchase roofing materials or services, including materials or services for construction, repair, or replacement of a roof.

ELECTIONS

H.B. 216 (Alvarado) – Voter Registration:  would require the secretary of state to implement a program to allow a person who has a valid driver’s license or personal identification card issued in this state 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. 259 (Simmons) – Electioneering:  would prohibit a city that owns a building used as a polling place from restricting or prohibiting electioneering, including posting political signs, on the building’s premises outside the prescribed limits within which electioneering is prohibited during early voting and on election day.

H.B. 270 (Farias) – Ballot Voted by Mail:  would require, in a county with a population of 20,000 or more in an election in which a federal office appears on the ballot, that: (1) the secretary of state require a detachable receipt be attached to the official carrier envelope for a ballot to be voted by mail and a unique identification number be printed on the receipt and envelope; and (2) the early voting clerk make the unique identification number on the carrier envelope available on the county’s website and indicate whether the return is timely.

H.B. 289 (Zedler) – Unlawful Voting:  would require: (1) a registrar to execute an affidavit to the attorney general when the registrar determines that a person who is not a registered voter voted in an election; and (2) the attorney general to investigate alleged criminal conduct in connection with an election upon receipt of an affidavit from two or more registered voters of the territory covered by the election.

OPEN GOVERNMENT

H.B. 268 (Miles) – Public Information Act:  would provide that: (1) a complaint filed against a fire fighter or police officer alleging conduct constituting official oppression must be retained by the city as long as the fire fighter or police officer at issue remains employed by the city; and (2) such a complaint may not be withheld from disclosure under the Public Information Act.

OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS

H.B. 219 (White) – Medical Assistance:  would prohibit a governmental entity, including a city, from providing medical assistance to individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States unless federal law requires it to do so. 

H.B. 244 (Menendez) – Credit Cards:  would prohibit a merchant from accepting a credit card for payment in a face-to-face transaction unless the merchant checks the individual’s photo identification to verify the individual is the cardholder.

H.J.R. 47 (Alvarado) – Gambling:  would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that the legislature shall establish a state gaming commission and may authorize and provide for regulation of the conduct of one or more types of gaming, including casino gaming, at – among other locations – cities with a population of at least 675,000.

MUNICIPAL COURTS

H.B. 211 (Fletcher) – Municipal Court: would authorize a $75 fee to be assessed upon conviction of any offense to pay for the services of a peace officer who has executed or processed an arrest warrant, capias, or capias pro fine.

H.B. 232 (Guillen) – Alcohol Offenses: would require a court to sentence a defendant who is convicted of certain alcohol offenses and resides in a rural area of the state to complete additional community service, rather than take an alcohol awareness course.

H.B. 288 (Zedler) – Municipal Court: would prohibit a court, arbitrator, or administrative adjudicator from basing a ruling or decision on a foreign or international law or doctrine or a prior ruling or decision based on a foreign or international law or doctrine. 

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC  DEVELOPMENT

H.B. 199 (Anchia) – Low Income Housing Tax Credit: would remove from the low income housing tax credit application scoring system the input of the state legislators who represent the area in which a project is proposed.

H.B. 278 (Craddick) – Liability: would limit a city’s liability for space flight activities conducted at a municipal airport.

H.J.R. 45 (Stickland) – Private Schools:  would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that neither the state, nor a political subdivision of the state, may regulate the educational program of a private school.

PERSONNEL

H.B. 207 (Marquez) – Whistleblower Act:  would provide that a public employee may invoke the protections of the Texas Whistleblower Act if the employee reports in good faith a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee to: (1) an appropriate law enforcement authority; (2)  a supervisor of the reporting employee; (3)  an administrator of the entity; or (4)  a human resources staff member of the entity. (Companion Bill is S.B. 121 by Rodriguez).

H.B. 238 (Villarreal) – Employment Discrimination:  would prohibit an elected city official or a city that employs fifteen or more employees from discriminating against an employee or an employment applicant on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

H.J.R. 48 (White) – Affordable Care Act:  would amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit a governmental entity, including a city, from imposing a penalty related to, or enforcing a policy requiring, health insurance coverage.

PUBLIC SAFETY

H.B. 124 (D. Anderson) – Salvia Divinorum:  would make salvia divinorum, and its derivatives and extracts, subject to Penalty Group 3 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

H.B. 167 (McClendon) – Pretrial Victim-Offender Mediation Program: would: (1) allow a city council, in coordination with the city attorney, to establish a pretrial victim-offender mediation program for persons charged with certain class C misdemeanors, including: criminal mischief, reckless damage, and theft; (2) allow a municipal court implementing the program to adopt local rules of procedure for the program; (3) permit a program to collect a reasonable program participation fee not to exceed $500, which would be deposited in a fund exclusively for the maintenance of the program operated in the city; and (4) require a defendant to pay a $15 court cost to offset the costs of the program.

H.B. 239 (Guillen) – Proof of Financial Responsibility: would allow a motor vehicle operator to provide evidence of financial responsibility in electronic format displayed on a wireless communication or other portable electronic device.  (Companion bill is S.B. 105 by West.)

H.B. 245 (Menendez) – Emergency Detention:  would require a peace officer who takes a person into custody for emergency detention to take the person to an emergency room if the person needs emergency medical services.

H.B. 260 (Guillen) – Alcohol Offenses: would require the use of an ignition interlock device on conviction of certain driving while intoxicated offenses.

H.B. 262 (Miles) – Improper Sexual Activity: would, among other things, provide for enhanced penalties when peace officers and correctional facility personnel engage in improper sexual activity with a person in custody.

H.B. 266 (Miles) – Official Oppression:  would increase the penalty prescribed for official oppression in certain circumstances.

H.J.R. 51 (Murphy) – Magistrates: would amend the Texas Constitution to require that a judge or magistrate deny a person taken into custody for committing a felony release on bail pending trial if the judge or magistrate determines that the person is not lawfully present in the United States

S.B. 98 (Patrick) – Driving While Intoxicated:  would: (1) allow a judge to grant deferred adjudication to defendants charged with driving, flying, boating, or assembling/operating an amusement ride while intoxicated, unless the defendant has a commercial driver’s license, but would require a judge granting deferred adjudication to a defendant to have an ignition interlock device installed; (2) prohibit a defendant on deferred adjudication for the offenses described in (1), above, from petitioning the court for an order of nondisclosure; and (3) clarify that deferred adjudication for the offenses described in (1), above, is considered a conviction for enhancement purposes.

UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT

H.B. 227 (Larson) – Water Infrastructure Fund: would appropriate $1 billion from the state’s “rainy day fund” to the credit of the water infrastructure fund for use by the Texas Water Development Board.

H.B. 246 (Walle) – Water Rates: would prohibit an investor-owned utility from filing an application with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to increase the utility’s rates more than once in a 36-month period and limit an increase to 20 percent of the cost of the utility’s rates at the time of the application.

H.B. 252 (Larson) – Water: would require each retail public utility (including a city) to project the future period for which the utility’s water supply is a reasonably certain source for the volume of water required for the utility’s needs and notify TCEQ when the projected water supply is reasonably certain to be less than 180 days.

H.B. 254 (Miles) – Wastewater: would prevent a retail public utility, which includes a municipally-owned utility, from receiving compensation for wastewater service provided to an owner or operator of a farm unless the compensation is based on the actual wastewater service used by the owner or operator for purposes of the farm. 


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