October 22, 2021, Number 40

Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 40

third-called special session ends

Late Monday night, the House and Senate adjourned sine die concluding the third-called special session. The legislature passed several bills on the governor’s call including new redistricting maps for the Texas Senate, the Texas House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the State Board of Education.  

The legislature approved 3S.B.8 which appropriates the state’s federal COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. A significant portion, $7.2 billion, is allocated to the state’s unemployment compensation fund and over $500 million is dedicated to broadband infrastructure. In a last-minute effort to provide tax relief to Texans, the legislature passed 3S.J.R. 2 increasing the homestead exemption on school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. The constitutional amendment will go to voters in May 2022. City-related bills that passed during the third-called special session can be found in “City-Related Bills Passed” article, below.

Late items added to the call – a prohibition on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and increased penalties for illegal voting – did not make it through the process. It is important to note that while legislation prohibiting vaccine mandates stalled in the legislature, the governor’s Executive Order No. GA-40, which provides that no entity can compel an individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, remains in effect.

reminder: puc filing requirements for affected water utilities due november 1, 2021

S.B. 3 created a requirement for affected utilities, which includes municipally owned water utilities that serve more than one customer, to submit certain required information to: (1) the Public Utility Commission (PUC); (2) each electric utility that provides transmission and distribution service to the affected utility; (3) each retail electric provider that sells electric power to the affected utility; (4) the office of emergency management of each county in which the utility has water and wastewater facilities that qualify for critical load status under rules adopted by the PUC; and (5) the division of emergency management of the governor. The required information an affected utility must submit to those entities listed above is: (1) information identifying the location and providing a general description of all water and wastewater facilities that qualify for critical load status; and (2) emergency contact information for the affected utility, including: (a) the person who will serve as a point of contact and the person’s telephone number; (b) the person who will serve as an alternative point of contact and the person’s telephone number; and (c) the affected utility's mailing address.

The PUC has created an information sheet with the filing requirements here. The deadline to submit the required information is November 1, 2021.

city-related bills passed

3S.B. 5 (Lucio/Patterson)Unlawful Restraint of Dog: this bill, among other things: (1) prohibits and creates an offense for the unlawful restraint of a dog; and (2) provides that the prohibition in (1) does not preempt a local regulation relating to the restraint of a dog or affect the authority of a political subdivision to adopt or enforce an ordinance or requirement relating to the restraint of a dog if the regulation, ordinance, or requirement: (a) is compatible with and equal to, or more stringent than, the prohibition; or (b) relates to an issue not specifically addressed by the prohibition. (Effective January 18, 2022.)

3S.B. 8 (Nelson/Bonnen) Federal Coronavirus Relief Appropriation: makes supplemental appropriations of roughly $13 billion received from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to include, among many other appropriations, the amount of $500,475,163 to the comptroller of public accounts for the purpose of providing funding for broadband infrastructure. (Effective immediately.)