CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED
H.B. 561 (Workman) – Property Tax: would provide that no additional property tax is imposed on land owned by an organization that qualifies as a school if the organization converts the land to a use for which the land is eligible for a property tax exemption.
H.B. 585 (Villarreal) – Property Tax: would, among other things, modify the procedural requirements relating to the appraisal of property taxes by: (1) requiring the comptroller to adopt uniform practice and procedure rules for an appraisal review board; (2) requiring a property owner who wishes to receive an allocation of value to reflect the use of certain types of personal property in Texas to submit an application with the chief appraiser in the appropriate appraisal district; (3) providing that a property owner who submits a late application for allocation under (2), above, is liable to each taxing unit for a penalty in an amount equal to ten percent of the difference between the amount of tax imposed by the taxing unit on the property without the allocation and the amount of tax imposed on the property with the allocation.
H.B. 603 (Lozano) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales and use taxes any book that: (1) is written, designed, and produced for educational, instructional, or pedagogical purposes; (2) is bought in-person by a full-time or part-time student enrolled in an institution of higher education or a private or independent college or university; and (3) is required for a course at the institution of higher education or the private or independent college or university.
H.B. 558 (Y. Davis) – Procurement: would provide that the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in many state-aided city construction projects be produced in the United States.
H.B. 579 (Howard) – Online Voting: would provide that the secretary of state shall conduct a study to consider the feasibility of online voting.
OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS
H.B. 581 (Howard) – Governmental Immunity: would waive governmental immunity for a city or other governmental entity in a suit in which a nurse who works for a hospital operated by or on behalf of a governmental entity alleges the city took adverse employment action against the nurse in retaliation for a report required by state laws governing nurse conduct.
H.B. 570 (Alonzo) – Emergency Protection Orders:would: (1) provide that the victim of an offense need not be present when an order for emergency protection is issued; and (2) allow a defendant to be served a copy of the order for emergency protection electronically.
S.B. 181 (Hegar) – Proof of Financial Responsibility: would allow a motor vehicle operator to provide evidence of financial responsibility in electronic format displayed on a wireless communication device, but would not prohibit a court or the commissioner of insurance from requiring a person to provide a paper copy at later proceedings. (Companion bill is H.B. 336 by Menendez.)
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
H.B. 555 (Callegari) – Metal Recycling: would make it a class C misdemeanor to violate a state regulation or local ordinance related to metal recycling.
H.B. 613 (Orr) – Foundation Repair Contractors: would: (1) provide for state regulation of foundation repair contractors; (2) subject foundation repair by an individual or entity, including those exempt under state regulation, to a permit, inspection, or approval requirement established by city ordinance; (3) excuse an individual or entity that holds a state license from a requirement to hold a license issued by a city to engage in foundation repair; and (4) require an individual or entity licensed by the state to engage in foundation repair to provide notice to a city that that the individual or entity has obtained the state license.
S.B. 180 (Van de Putte) – Eminent Domain: would provide, in relation to the later repurchase of property acquired through eminent domain, that: (1) an entity with eminent domain authority that makes a bona fide offer to acquire property must state with specificity in the initial and final offers the public use for which the entity intends to acquire the property; (2) an entity with eminent domain authority shall disclose in writing to the property owner, at the time of acquisition of the property through eminent domain, including an acquisition through a purchase made by the entity in connection with an initial offer that, in addition to other things, that the initial use of the property is not the public use for which the property was acquired; (3) actual progress towards completion of a project no longer includes: (a) the acquisition of a tract or parcel of real property adjacent to the property for the same public use project for which the owner's property was acquired; or (b) for a governmental entity, the adoption by a majority of the entity’s governing body at a public hearing of a development plan for a public use project that indicates that the entity will not complete more than one action towards completion before the 10th anniversary of the date of acquisition of the property; (4) not later than the 180th day after the date an entity that acquired a real property interest through eminent domain determines that the former property owner is entitled to repurchase the property, the entity shall send by certified mail to the property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns a notice containing, among other things, a note that the initial use of the property was not the public use for which the property was acquired; and (5) after the first anniversary of the date on which real property was acquired by an entity through eminent domain, a property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns may annually request that the entity make a determination and provide a statement and other relevant information regarding, among other things, whether the initial use of the property was the public use for which the property was acquired. (Companion bill is H.B. 476 by Kolkhorst).
S.B. 194 (West) – Subdivision Regulations: would require cities and counties to adopt infrastructure standards that require, in a residential subdivision of 1,000 or more lots, at least two means of ingress and egress for use by emergency vehicles during evacuations resulting from fire or other natural disasters.
H.B. 559 (Burkett) – Immigration: would: (1) prohibit an employer, including a city, from knowingly employing an undocumented immigrant; (2) penalize a city by revoking any government license it holds if it knowingly employs an undocumented immigrant; (3) allow individuals to file complaints if they have reason to believe the city is employing an individual who is an undocumented immigrant; (4) require a licensing authority, including a city, to suspend any license issued to a person found to have knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant; and (5) allow a licensing authority, including a city, to charge a fee to a person whose license is suspended under this law.
H.B. 615 (Harless) – Immigration: would: (1) prohibit an employer, including a city, from employing an undocumented immigrant; (2) create a complaint process for employers that employ undocumented immigrants; (3) require the Texas Workforce Commission to adopt rules regarding the bill; and (4) require a report by the commission to be given to the legislature and the governor based on nonidentifiable, summary data of two years of complaint data.
H.B. 553 (Otto) – Gun Rights: Would enact the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” and make certain findings related to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as they relate to federal gun control measures. The bill would also enact a new penalty provision in the Texas Penal Code titled “Second Amendment Shall Remain Inviolate,” which would provide that: (1) a person who is a peace officer or any other public servant commits an offense if the person, while acting under color of the person’s office or employment, intentionally enforces or attempts to enforce any acts, laws, executive orders, agency orders, rules or regulations of any kind whatsoever of the United States government relating to confiscating any firearm, banning any firearm, limiting the size of a magazine for any firearm, imposing any limit on the ammunition that may be purchased for any firearm, taxing any firearm or ammunition therefore, or requiring the registration of any firearm or ammunition therefore; (2) a person who violates (1), above, is guilty of a class A or B misdemeanor offense; (3) if the government of the United States, the defendant, or any other party challenges the validity of the bill on any grounds, including unconstitutionality, preemption, or sovereign immunity, the attorney general of Texas with the consent of the appropriate local county or district attorney, as necessary, shall take any and all actions required on behalf of the state to defend the validity of the statute; and (4) the Texas Department of Public Safety shall immediately report to the governor, attorney general, and the legislature any attempt by the federal government to implement or enforce any law in violation of the bill through the Texas Department of Public Safety, or any another state or local law enforcement agency.
H.B. 557 (Gonzales) – License Plates: would require Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to issue for attachment at the rear of a passenger car or light truck only one license plate and would create an offense for operating a passenger car or light truck without the license plate attached at the rear.
H.B. 583 (Kleinschmidt) – Vehicle Impoundment: would: (1) authorize a peace officer to impound or authorize a vehicle storage facility to remove and impound a vehicle of a person who: (a) is involved in a motor vehicle accident or is stopped for an alleged violation of a local traffic ordinance, state traffic law, or any other law applicable to the operation of a vehicle on a roadway; and (b) operates a motor vehicle without establishing financial responsibility for the vehicle; (2) require a peace officer who impounds or authorizes the impoundment of a vehicle under (1), above, to instruct the operator of the vehicle as to how the owner of the vehicle may recover the motor vehicle; (3) allow a law enforcement agency or vehicle storage facility to release a vehicle impounded under (1), above, only if the owner provides: (a) sufficient evidence showing the motor vehicle was exempt from the financial responsibility requirement; or (b) sufficient evidence showing that on the applicable date the vehicle was in compliance; or (c) sufficient evidence showing financial responsibility for the vehicle has been obtained and is valid; and (d) provides a driver’s license issued to the owner of the vehicle and pays all associated fees; and (4) authorize the law enforcement agency or vehicle storage facility that impounds a vehicle under (1), above, to release the vehicle to a person who is shown as a lienholder on the vehicle’s certificate of title only if the person provides a statement from an officer of the lienholder establishing that the obligation secured by the vehicle is in default and the person pays all associated fees.
H.B. 594 (Naishtat) – Medical Marihuana: would (1) provide an affirmative defense to prosecution for possession of marihuana if the person is a patient of a physician licensed to practice medicine in the state pursuant to the recommendation of the physician for amelioration of the symptoms or effects of bona fide medical condition; (2) a law enforcement agency may not initiate an investigation into a licensed physician solely on the ground that the physician made a written or oral statement or discussed the potential benefits of the use of marihuana may have for a patient that would outweigh health risks.
H.B. 606 (Guillen) – Driver’s License Suspension:would automatically suspend a person’s driver’s license on final conviction of a traffic offense committed in a construction or maintenance zone when workers are present if the person has been convicted two or more times of a similar traffic offense within the preceding five years.
H.B. 601 (Lozano) – Sex Offenders: would permit a general law city to prohibit a registered sex offender from going in, on, or within a specified distance of a child safety zone within the city.
S.B. 182 (Birdwell) – Concealed Handguns: would, among other things, expand the places where a concealed handgun licensee can carry a handgun to include the campus of an institution of higher education, with certain exceptions.
S.B. 188 (Huffman) – Wiretaps: would, among other things: (1) authorize a police department in a city with a population of 500,000 or more to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication in a situation that is not an immediate life-threatening situation if the department adopts a written protocol policy that is approved by the director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS); (2) require the police chief to submit to the DPS director a list of peace officers authorized to possess, install, monitor, or operate wire, oral, or electronic communications intercept equipment; (3) authorize the DPS to conduct an audit of police departments to ensure compliance with their approved written protocol; (4) provide that a police department’s authority to intercept communications be relinquished if, after certain notice, the department fails to comply with its approved written protocol; (5) require peace officers authorized to operate or monitor the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication to complete at least 16 hours of training; (6) provide that, in a court order, the initial period of communications interception begins on the earlier of the date interception begins or the tenth day after the interception order is entered; and (7) require the DPS director to report certain information about a police department’s interception activity to the governor and certain other state officials. (This bill is identical to H.B. 530 by Fletcher)
UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT
H.B. 550 (Turner) – Municipal Electric Rates: would, in addition to imposing many low-income rate requirements on investor owned utilities, provide that, until a municipally owned utility or electric cooperative implements customer choice, the utility or cooperative may not reduce, in any manner, programs already offered to assist low-income electric customers.
H.B. 569 (White) – Environmental Standards: would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to conduct a study to determine which statutes and rules provide standards that are more stringent than federal requirements. The study would include recommendations for establishing standards that are not more stringent than the minimum acceptable standards provided by federal law.
H.B. 589 (Howard) – Lower Colorado River Authority: would require Lower Colorado River Authority to provide adequate water pressure for service to fire hydrants for any area in which the authority owns or operates the local water supply system.
S.B. 22 (Fraser) – State Water Plan Funding: would provide: (1) that the Texas Water Development Board is composed of three, rather than six, members who serve on a full-time basis; (2) for various changes to certain administrative provisions relating to the board; and (3) that: (a) if the state water implementation fund for Texas is created by legislation during the 2013 regular session (see, e.g., H.B. 4 by Ritter), the amount of $2 billion is appropriated from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to the comptroller for the purpose of depositing that amount to the credit of the state water implementation fund for Texas as money available for use by the Texas Water Development Board for the purposes of the state water implementation fund for Texas; or (b) if the state water implementation fund for Texas is not created, the amount of $2 billion is appropriated from the Rainy Day Fund to the comptroller for the purpose of depositing that amount to the credit of the Texas Water Development Fund II as money available for use by the Texas Water Development Board.
S.B. 186 (Carona) – Mosquito Abatement: would: (1) authorize a city, county, or local health authority to abate, without notice, certain collections of water in which mosquitoes are breeding that: (a) are located on residential property reasonably presumed to be abandoned or uninhabited due to foreclosure; and (b) are an immediate danger to the health, life, or safety of any person; (2) allow enforcement officials, agents, and employees to enter the premises described in (1), above, at a reasonable time to inspect, investigate, or abate the nuisance; (3) limit mosquito abatement described in (1), above, to treatment of stagnant water with a mosquito larvicide; and (4) require a notice on the front door stating the treating authority, the purpose and date of treatment, the area treated, the type of larvicide used, and the known risks of the larvicide to humans or animals.
S.B. 224 (Seliger) – State Water Plan Funding: would provide that the amount of $1.6 billion from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” is available for use by the Texas Water Development Board for the purposes of funding projects in the State Water Plan during the state fiscal biennium beginning September 1, 2013.
H.B. 563 (Guillen) – Transportation Funding: would: (1) authorize two or more counties that contain a shale formation – with the approval of the Texas Transportation Commission – to form a shale transportation district to plan, coordinate, and provide financial assistant for road projects in the district if certain conditions are met; (2) provide that the commissioners court of each county that forms the district shall appoint at least two directors to the board and that additional directors may be appointed to the board at the time of initial formation by agreement of the counties creating the district to ensure fair representation of political subdivisions in the counties of the district; and (3) authorize a district to issue bonds secured by the a diversion of revenue from the state’s oil and gas tax revenue. (Note: Please see H.J.R. 63, below.)
H.J.R. 63 (Guillen) – Transportation Funding: would amend the constitution to provide that the comptroller shall, in lieu of a transfer to the state’s Rainy Day Fund, transfer a portion of the state’s oil and gas tax revenue to the State Highway Fund to be used for construction, reconstruction, acquisition, and expansion of roads in a county in which a part of a shale formation is located. (Note: Please see H.B. 563, above.)