First Special Session – City-Related Bills Filed

Property Tax

1H.B. 32 (D. Bonnen) – Property Tax System: this bill, known as the “Property Tax Payer Empowerment Act of 2017,” would make numerous changes to the process for adopting property tax rates. Of primary importance to cities, the bill would, among other things:

  1. require the comptroller to appoint a property tax administration advisory board to make recommendations to the comptroller regarding state administration of property taxation and state oversight of appraisal districts and local tax offices;
  2. require the comptroller to prescribe tax rate calculation forms to be used by the designated officer or employee of each taxing unit in calculating the no-new-taxes tax rate and rollback tax rate for the taxing unit;
  3. provide that the calculation worksheet form must be in an electronic format and: (a) have blanks that can be filled in electronically; (b) be capable of being certified by the designated officer or employee after completion as accurately calculating the applicable tax rates and using values that are the same as the values shown in the taxing unit’s certified appraisal roll; and (c) be capable of being submitted electronically to the chief appraiser of each appraisal district in which the taxing unit is located;
  4. require the comptroller to prepare an annual list that includes the total tax rate imposed by each taxing unit in the state for the year in which the list is prepared that shall be sorted alphabetically according to: (a) the county or counties in which each taxing unit is located; and (b) the name of each taxing unit;
  5. rename the “effective tax rate” and “effective maintenance and operations rate” the “no-new-revenue tax rate” and “no-new-revenue maintenance and operations rate,” respectively;
  6. require the designated officer or employee of a taxing unit to use the tax rate calculation forms prescribed by the comptroller in calculating the no-new-revenue tax rate and the rollback tax rate;
  7. provide that the designated officer or employee of a taxing unit may not submit the no-new-revenue tax rate and the rollback rate to the governing body of the taxing unit and unit may not adopt a tax rate until the designated officer or employee certifies on the tax rate calculation forms that the designated officer or employee has accurately calculated the tax rates and has used values that are the same as the values shown in the unit’s certified appraisal roll in performing the calculations;
  8. require the chief appraiser of each appraisal district to deliver a specific property tax rate notice by regular mail or e-mail to each property owner by August 7th, or as soon thereafter as practicable;
  9. provide that a person who owns taxable property is entitled to an injunction restraining the collection of taxes by a taxing unit in which the property is taxable if the taxing unit has not complied with certain tax rate calculation, publication, and adoption requirements, without regard to whether the failure to comply was in good faith;
  10. provide that an action to enjoin the collection of taxes must be filed not later than the 15thdate after the date the taxing unit adopts a tax rate;
  11. provide that a property owner is not required to pay the taxes imposed by a taxing unit on the owner’s property while an action filed by the property owner to enjoin the collection of taxes imposed by the taxing unit on the owner’s property is pending, and that if the property owner pays the taxes and subsequently prevails in the action, the property owner is entitled to a refund of the taxes paid, together with reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs;
  12. provide that the governing body of a taxing unit may not hold a public hearing on a proposed tax rate or a public meeting to adopt a tax rate until the 14th day after the date the officer or employee designated by the governing body of the unit to calculate the no-new-revenue tax rate and the rollback tax rate for the unit electronically submits to the chief appraiser the information required for the chief appraiser’s database of property tax-related information;
  13. provide that the governing body of a taxing unit other than a school district may not adopt a tax rate until: (a) the chief appraiser of each appraisal district in which the taxing unit participates has: (i) delivered the required property tax notice; and (ii) incorporated the tax rate calculation forms submitted to the appraisal district by the taxing unit into the property tax database maintained by the chief appraiser and made them available to the public; (b) the designated officer or employee of the taxing unit has entered in the property tax database maintained by the chief appraiser the requisite information for the current tax year; and (c) the taxing unit has posted the information required to be posted on the taxing unit’s Internet website under Section Number 22 of this summary;
  14. authorize a taxing unit with a low tax levy to post notice of the proposed tax rate prominently on the home page of the Internet website maintained by the taxing unit, if applicable;
  15. require a taxing unit that owns, operates, or controls an Internet website to post notice of a public hearing on a proposed tax increase prominently on the home page of the website continuously for at least seven days immediately before the public hearing at least seven days immediately before the date of the vote proposing the increase in the tax rate;
  16. require the chief appraiser of each appraisal district to create and maintain a property tax database that: (a) is identified by the name of the county in which the appraisal district is established in stead of the name of the appraisal district; (b) contains information that is provided by designated officers or employees of taxing units in the manner required by the comptroller; (c) is continuously updated as preliminary and revised data become available to and are provided by the designated officers or employees of the taxing units; (d) is accessible to the public; and (e) is searchable by property address and owner;
  17. require the chief appraiser’s property tax database to include, with respect to each property listed on an appraisal roll: (a) the property’s identification number; (b) the property’s market value; (c) the property’s taxable value; (d) the name of the each taxing unit in which the property is located; (e) for each taxing unit other than a school district in which the property is located; (i) the no-new-revenue tax rate; and (ii) the rollback tax rate; (f) for each school district in which the property is located: (i) the rate to maintain the same amount of state and local revenue per weighted student that the district received in the school year beginning in the preceding tax year; and (ii) the rollback tax rate; (g) the tax rate proposed by the governing body of each taxing unit in which the property is located; (h) for each taxing unit other than a school district in which the property is located, the taxes that would be imposed on the property if the unit adopted a tax rate equal to: (i) the no-new-revenue tax rate; and (ii) the proposed tax rate; (iii) for each school district in which the property is located, the taxes that would be imposed on the property if the unit adopted a tax rate equal to: (iv) the rate to maintain the same amount of state and local revenue per weighted student that the district received in the school year beginning in the preceding tax year; and (v) the proposed tax rate; (j) for each taxing unit other than a school district in which the property is located, the difference between the amount calculated for the no-new-revenue tax rate and the proposed tax rate; (k) for each school district in which the property is located, the difference between the amount calculated to maintain the same amount of state and local revenue per weighted student the district received in the school year beginning in the preceding year and the proposed tax rate; (l) the date and location of each public hearing, if applicable, on the proposed tax rate to be held by the governing body of each taxing unit in which the property is located; and (m) the date and location of the public meeting in which the tax rate will be adopted to be held by the governing body of each taxing unit in which the property is located;
  18. require the property tax database to provide a link to the tax rate and budget information required to be posted on a taxing unit’s website (See Section 22 of this summary);
  19. require the officer or employee designated by the governing body of each taxing unit to calculate the no-new-revenue tax rate and rollback tax rate for the unit to electronically:
    (a) enter into the database the information described by Section 17 of this summary as the information becomes available; and (b) submit to the appraisal district the tax rate calculation forms at the same time the designated officer or employee submits the tax rates to the governing body of the taxing unit;
  20. require the chief appraiser to deliver by e-mail to the designated officer or employee confirmation of receipt of the tax rate calculation forms, and require the chief appraiser to incorporate the forms into the database and make them available to the public not later than the third day after the date the chief appraiser receives them;
  21. require each taxing unit to maintain an Internet website or have access to a generally accessible Internet website that may be used for purposes of posting the information required by Section 22 of this summary;
  22. require each taxing unit to post on its Internet website the following information in a format prescribed by the comptroller: (a) the name and official contact information for each member of the governing body of the taxing unit; (b) the mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the taxing unit; (c) the taxing unit’s budget for the preceding two years; (d) the taxing unit’s proposed or adopted budget for the current year; (e) the change in the amount of the taxing unit’s budget from the preceding year to the current year, by dollar amount and percentage; (f) for a taxing unit other than a school district, the amount of property tax revenue budgeted for both maintenance and operations and debt service, respectively, for: (i) the preceding two years; and (ii) the current year; (g) the tax rate for both maintenance and operations and debt service, respectively, adopted by the taxing unit for the preceding two years; (h) the tax rate for both maintenance and operations and debt service, respectively, adopted by the taxing unit for current year; and (i) the most recent financial audit of the taxing unit; and
  23. eliminate the ability of a taxing unit to challenge before the appraisal review board the level of appraisals of any category of property in the appraisal district or in any territory in the appraisal district.

1H.B. 331 (S. Davis) – Property Tax Appraisal: would provide that the chief appraiser of an appraisal district that appraises property for a taxing unit that is located partly or entirely inside an area declared to be a disaster area by the governor shall, within 45 days after the date the governor declares the area to be a disaster area, reappraise all property that the Federal Emergency Management Agency or its successor agency estimates to have sustained five percent or greater damage as a result of the disaster at its market value immediately after the disaster.

1H.B. 337 (Burrows) – Property Tax Appeals: would provide that: (1) in an appeal of an excessive or unequal appraisal, the appraisal district has the burden of establishing the value of the property by a preponderance of the evidence presented at the trial; and (2) if the appraisal district fails to meet the burden of proof required by (1), the court shall determine the appeal in favor of the property owner.

1H.B. 339 (Sanford) – Appraisal Review Board: would authorize the appraisal review board to direct by written order changes in the appraisal roll for any of the five preceding years to correct an error in the square footage of a property described in the appraisal roll.

1H.B. 348 (Burkett) – Property Tax Appraisal: would, among other things, provide that: (1) for an appraisal district established in a county with a population of less than 200,000, the appraisal district is governed by a board of five directors with one director being elected from each of the four commissioners precincts and the county assessor-collector serving as a director by virtue of the person’s office; and (2) for an appraisal district established in a county with a population of 200,000 or more, the appraisal district is governed by a board of seven directors, with one director being elected from each of the four commissioners precincts, two directors elected from the county at-large, and the county assessor-collector serving as a director by virtue of the person’s office.

1H.B. 349 (Burkett) – Appraisal Cap: would impose a four percent appraisal cap on the appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead. (See 1H.J.R. 47, below.)

1H.B. 350 (Burkett) – Property Tax Exemption: would provide that a business that employs 500 or fewer employees is entitled to an exemption from property taxation of the tangible personal property that is owned by the business and that is held or used by the business for production of income. (See 1H.J.R. 48, below.)

1H.B. 359 (Villalba) – Appraisal Cap: would provide that: (1) an appraisal office may not increase the appraised value of a residence homestead for a tax year to an amount that exceeds the sum of: (a) 25 percent of the lowest appraised value of the property for any of the ten tax years preceding the current tax year in which the appraisal cap was in effect; (b) the appraised value of the property for the tax year used to make the computation under (1)(a); and (c) the sum of the market value of all new improvements to the property made after January 1 of the tax year used to make the computation under (1)(a), based on the market value of each new improvement in the tax year in which the value of the improvement was included in the appraised value of the property; and (2) the appraisal cap under (1) applies only to the 2018-2027 tax years. (See 1H.J.R. 50, below.)

1H.B. 360 (Villalba) – Property Tax Freeze: would: (1) repeal the local option property tax freeze statute for the elderly and disabled; and (2) impose on all taxing units a mandatory property tax freeze for individuals who are elderly or disabled. (See 1H.J.R. 51, below.)

1H.B. 364 (Lucio) – Property Tax Appeals: would authorize a court on the motion of either party to enter an order abating discovery during the period for conducting pretrial settlement discussions in certain property tax appeals.

1H.B. 366 (Paul) – Revenue Cap: would make numerous changes to the process for calculating and adopting property tax rates. Of primary importance to cities, the bill would adjust the property tax rollback rate in the following ways:

  1. define “small taxing unit” as a taxing unit other than a school district for which: (a) the maintenance and operations tax rate proposed for the current tax year is two cents per $100 of taxable value; or (b) taxes of $40 million or less are imposed when applied to the current total value for the taxing unit;
  2. maintain an eight percent rollback rate for all small taxing units;
  3. for a taxing unit other than a small taxing unit, provide for a rollback rate of five percent;
  4. provide that any adopted rate of a taxing unit other than a small taxing unit exceeding the rollback rate would subject the taxing unit to an automatic rollback election to be held not less than 30 or more than 90 days after the day on which it adopted the tax rate, at which the voters would determine whether or not to reduce the tax rate adopted for the current year to the rollback rate; and
  5. provide that the governing body of a taxing unit other than a small taxing unit may direct the designated officer or employee to calculate the rollback tax rate of the unit in the manner provided for a small taxing unit if any part of the unit is located in an area declared a disaster area during the current tax year by the governor or by the president of the United States.

1H.J.R. 47 (Burkett) – Appraisal Cap: would amend the Texas Constitution to impose a four percent appraisal cap on the appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead. (See 1H.B. 349, above.)

1H.J.R. 48 (Burkett) – Property Tax Exemption: would amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature by general law to exempt from property taxation the tangible personal property that is owned by a small business and that is held or used for the production of income. (See 1.H.B. 350, above.)

1H.J.R. 50 (Villalba) – Appraisal Cap: would amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature by general law to limit the maximum appraised value of a residence homestead for property tax purposes in a tax year to the least of the most recent market value of the residence homestead, 110 percent or a greater percentage of the appraised value of the residence homestead for the preceding tax year, or 125 percent or a greater percentage of the lowest appraised value of the residence homestead for any of the preceding 10 tax years. (See 1H.J.R. 359, above.)

1H.J.R. 51 (Villalba) – Property Tax Freeze: would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) repeal the local option property tax freeze statute for the elderly and disabled; and (2) impose on all taxing units a mandatory property tax freeze for individuals who are elderly or disabled. (See 1H.B. 360, above.)

 

Elections

1H.B. 341 (Israel) – Voting by Mail: would, among other things: (1) require the early voting clerk, before rejecting an application, to make a reasonable effort to contact the applicant by email at any email address provided on the application, to ask questions about the application; (2) provide that if the early voting clerk does not receive a response before the fourth day after the date the clerk sent an e-mail to the email address provided on the application, the clerk may reject the application; and (3) provide that the carrier envelope shall contain a renewal application preceded by a box for the voter to indicate by a check mark their desire to receive all ballots until December 31 of the next even-numbered year.

1H.B. 342 (Reynolds) – Election Cybersecurity: would provide that: (1) in conducting a study regarding cyber attacks on election infrastructure, the secretary of state shall consult with county election officials, local law enforcement officials, and federal law enforcement officials; and (2) a county clerk shall report any cyber attack or attempted cyber attack on a county’s voting system to the secretary of state not later than 48 hours after the discovery of the attack or attempted attack. (Companion bill is 1S.B. 99 by Miles.)

1S.B. 113 (Garcia) – Early Voting: would authorize early voting by permanent caretakers of persons with certain disabilities. (Companion bill is 1H.B. 89 by Hinojosa.)

 

Other Finance and Administration

1S.B. 112 (Creighton) – Memorial Monuments:would: (1) prohibit a city from removing, relocating, or altering a monument or memorial that has been located on city property for at least 40 years; (2) provide that to remove, relocate, or alter a monument or memorial that has been located on city property at least 20 years but less than 40 years, approval of a majority of the voters of the city is required; and (3) require that any monument or memorial that is permanently removed must be relocated to a prominent location.  

 

Community and Economic Development

1H.B. 362 (Gutierrez) – Zoning Around Military Bases: would provide that the governing bodies of a city and the county in a regulated area through a joint military installation zoning board apply general zoning regulations in the area that extends not more than five miles from the boundaries of a federal military installation.

1H.B. 365 (Anchia) – Payday Lending: would broaden the state regulation of payday lending to apply to any extension of consumer credit, instead of only deferred presentment transactions and motor vehicle title loans.

 

Public Safety

1H.B. 327 (S. Davis) – Cell Phone Ban:would allow a school district to approve the posting of a sign prohibiting the use of a wireless communication device in a school crossing zone. (Note: current law provides that the city must post or approve the signage.)

1S.B. 108 (Garcia) – Immigration Enforcement: would provide, among many other things, that a aw enforcement agency or other governmental entity that employs a peace officer shall adopt and enforce a policy that prohibits the agency’s or entity’s peace officers from participating in the enforcement of federal law relating to aliens, immigrants, or immigration, including the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, on the property of a place of worship, hospital, public school, including a public institution of higher education, or courthouse.

1S.B. 109 (Garcia) – Immigration Enforcement: would: (1) repeal most of the provisions from S.B. 4 (the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill) from the 2017 regular session; (2) provide that a local entity, including each entity under the jurisdiction of the local entity, may not be awarded state grant funds if: (a) the local entity detains a person pursuant to and in furtherance of an immigration detainer request; and (b) a final judicial determination is made that the detainer request or the local entity’s detention of the person in accordance with the detainer request violated the Texas Constitution or United States Constitution; (3) the prohibiton in (2), above, applies only to the state fiscal year immediately following the fiscal year in which the final judicial determination is made; and (4) the comptroller shall adopt rules to implement the bill uniformly among the state agencies from which state grant funds are distributed to local entities.

1S.B. 110 (Garcia) – Immigration Enforcement: would repeal most of the provisions from S.B. 4 (the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill) from the 2017 regular session.

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