November 27, 2019, Number 45
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update 45
Texas Speaker of the House Issues Interim Charges
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has released interim charges to the committees of the Texas House to study prior to the 2021 legislative session. The most important city-related charges are reprinted below. The League will continue to monitor the charges and report on the progress of the studies.
COMMITTEE ON STATE AFFAIRS
- Study S.B. 1152, which relates to municipal fees from telecommunications and cable or video service providers. Monitor the effects of legislation to modernize telecommunications fee structures that support public services and determine the relevance and necessity of other cable and video fees.
- Study how governmental entities use public funds for political lobbying purposes. Examine what types of governmental entities use public funds for lobbying purposes. Make recommendations to protect taxpayers from paying for lobbyists who may not represent the taxpayers’ interests.
- Study S.B. 943, S.B. 944, and S.B. 1640, which relate to the Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act. Examine the implementation of the legislation and determine if additional changes to the Public Information Act or Open Meetings Act are necessary.
COMMITTEE ON URBAN AFFAIRS
- Examine municipal ordinances and policies and their impact on local businesses and citizens and the overall impact on the economic health of the state and well-being of residents. Examine and make recommendations regarding municipal ordinances relating to the short term rental industry, paid sick leave policies, and homelessness issues.
- Examine the cybersecurity needs of municipalities and other local governmental entities. Review steps taken to prepare for and respond to cyber attacks, including what resources are available from the state and federal governments. Make recommendations for best practices.
COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS
- Monitor S.B. 2, which is the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019. Monitor the implementation of the legislation, including a review of the tax rates adopted by taxing units in 2019 and 2020, the appraisal review board survey system, and progress in onboarding the tax rate notices and websites. Make recommendations for modifications as necessary and appropriate.
- Monitor H.B. 1525 and H.B. 2153, which relate to the collection of sales and use taxes by marketplaces and out-of-state businesses. Monitor the Comptroller of Public Accounts’ rules regulating the collection of sales, use, and franchise tax to ensure compliance by marketplace providers and out-of-state businesses and monitor any revenue increases as a result of implementation of these bills.
- Study and consider possible methods of providing property tax relief, including potential sources of revenue that may be used to reduce or eliminate school district maintenance and operations property tax rates.
- Study the role of the local option sales and use tax, including: an analysis of the available uses for those taxes, specifically economic development agreements; the statewide distribution of local tax rates; the proportion of the local government budget supported by sales and use taxes; the application of consistent sales sourcing rules; and the impact of shifting from origin to destination sourcing.
COMMITTEE ON LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
- Monitor H.B. 347, which eliminates the distinction between Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties and municipalities so that all cities are prohibited from using forced annexation. Determine if there is a need for further annexation legislation in Texas. Study how implementation of voter-approved annexation impacts the need for extraterritorial jurisdiction.
- Review, in coordination with the Office of the Attorney General, the efficacy of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights (LBoR) in explaining to landowners the eminent domain condemnation process and their rights and responsibilities under Chapter 21 of the Property Code. Identify any omitted information which can enhance the landowner’s understanding of the condemnation process and determine whether any other changes should be made to the document to make it more user friendly. Determine whether it would be beneficial for the legislature to be more prescriptive in statute with the mandatory contents of the LBoR.
- Study property owner’s rights in eminent domain to examine and make recommendations on what should and should not constitute an actual progress to ensure the right of property owners to repurchase property seized through eminent domain by a condemning entity.
COMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE
- Study current practices and enforcement of criminal laws for non-violent Class C Misdemeanors. Examine the benefits of citations in lieu of arrests and fine-only offenses, the nexus between recidivism and “debtors’ prisons,” and all programs within the criminal justice system that levy fines, fees, and related penalties.
COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS
- Monitor H.B. 933, which requires election information to be posted on the Secretary of State’s (SOS) and each county's internet website. Monitor the costs associated with implementing the legislation. Work with the SOS to determine which office elections should be included in the website postings based on costs and popularity of the office.
- Make recommendations for establishing best practices for conducting an election during a declared disaster. Examine model legislation and statutes from other states pertaining to voting during a declared disaster when polls are inaccessible.
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION
- Investigate the delegation of state statutory authority to political subdivisions of the state for the authorization and regulation of solid waste management infrastructure and operations. Determine the most effective approach to balancing the primary authority of the TCEQ, consistent with federal environmental standards, and the authority traditionally exercised by political subdivisions under existing law, including the regulation of land development and land use. Examine what allocation of responsibilities between state and local agencies is best suited to ensure the adequate capacity for solid waste management in the state, considering growth in population and economic activity, changes in demand for waste disposal and recycling, and the need to address future disaster response and debris management.
- Study the regulation of commercial and residential irrigation backflow devices to determine if the State of Texas is adequately regulating commercial and residential irrigation backflow devices to determine the incidence of pollutant backflow into drinking water sources. Review the TCEQ’s stakeholder working groups.
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY
- Study the implementation of emergency preparedness and disaster response and recovery legislation passed during the 86th Legislature, including H.B. 5, the catastrophic debris management plan for local communities to expedite debris removal following a disaster; H.B. 6, which creates the Disaster Recovery Task Force to help facilitate specialized assistance when a disaster strikes throughout the long-term recovery period; H.B. 7, which requires the governor's office to compile disaster regulatory waivers needed during a disaster; H.B. 2305, which enhances emergency management training for personnel at the state and local levels; H.B. 2320, which improves public infrastructure and the hardening of utilities and facilities; H.B. 2325, which improves communication, disaster technology, and public information distributed during a disaster; H.B. 2340, which strengthens data sharing and technology used in emergency management operations; H.B. 2345, which creates the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas; and H.B 2794, which transfers the Texas Division of Emergency Management to the Texas A&M University System.
COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
- Monitor H.J.R. 4, S.B. 7, and S.B. 8, which relate to statewide and regional flood planning and mitigation. Monitor the progress of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and other entities to provide for the planning, development, and financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects statewide to strengthen the state’s infrastructure and resiliency to future floods. Study the efforts of the TCEQ, the TWDB, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas to incentivize, promote, and preserve regional projects to meet water supply needs and encourage public and private investment in water infrastructure. Identify impediments or threats to regionalization with special emphasis on: prioritization in planning and implementing the State Water Plan, Regional Water Plan, and other recommended water supply projects; barriers to private investment and the development of public-private partnerships to implement needed water supply projects, including the retail water and wastewater industry, to address the state's growth challenges; public water and wastewater systems that are unable to meet federal and state standards due to inadequate operational capacity and factors that prevent such systems from being integrated into larger systems and processes that more easily facilitate the sale, transfer, or merger of systems; and state agency authority to regulate regional water supply pricing.
TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.