H.B. 887 (Geren) – Red Light Cameras:  would prohibit the county assessor collector and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles from refusing to register a vehicle when the owner of the motor vehicle is delinquent in the payment of a civil penalty imposed as the result of a violation detected by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.

H.B. 889 (Lewis) – Property Tax:  would change the method by which a real property interest in oil and gas in place is appraised by: (1) using the average price of the oil or gas interest for the preceding two calendar years; and (2) eliminating the comptroller-computed market condition factor multiplier. 

H.B. 892 (C. Howard) – Transport of Illegal Aliens:  would create the offense of unlawful transport of an illegal alien.

H.B. 903 (Thompson) – Juvenile Case Manager Fund:  would expand the permitted uses of the juvenile case manager fund to include training expenses, travel expenses, costs of office supplies, and other operating and maintenance costs of the juvenile case manager.

H.B. 904 (Thompson) – Municipal Court Building Security Fund:   would increase the optional municipal court building security fee to $4.

H.B. 913 (Dutton) – Expunction:  would: (1) expand the situations in which an individual would be entitled to have all records and files relating to an arrest expunged; (2) expand the situations in which a court would be required to enter an order of expunction of all files and records relating to a specific arrest; (3) require a municipal prosecutor to bring a motion for expunction in any case where a person was arrested but a complaint was not filed before the second anniversary of the date of arrest; and (4) repeal all expunction fees.

H.B. 918  (Allen) – Solid Waste:  would require a solid waste permit application to include: (1) a certification from the applicant that an explanation of the site’s proposed operations and a questionnaire seeking community comments was mailed to each resident and community organization, nonprofit organization, or civic club within a certain distance of the proposed site; and (2) any comments made in response to the questionnaire.

H.B. 925 (Bonnen) -- TMRS:  would allow a city to provide for retirement credit for prior service as a volunteer reserve police officer if the officer currently works for the city as a full time officer.

H.B. 926 (Harper-Brown) – Elections:  would: (1) allow the Department of Public Safety to disclose the results of an investigation into the validity of an address to the secretary of state (SOS) for voter registration purposes; and (2) require the SOS to inform the voter registrar of the county in which the address is located.

H.B. 930 (Darby) – Property Tax:  would require a court to issue a tax warrant authorizing the seizure of personal property for the payment of property taxes if the applicant for the warrant has reason to believe that personal property owned by the property owner will be sold at a liquidation sale in connection with the cessation of a business.  

H.B. 939 (V. Gonzales) – Municipal Court Fees: would create a $75 fee to be paid by a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor if a written notice to appear was issued following the defendant’s violation of a traffic law, municipal ordinance, or state penal law, and the services of a peace officer are required to locate the defendant to issue that notice.

H.B. 943 (Dukes) – Missing Persons:  would: (1) require the Department of Family and Protective Services to report to and make monthly contact with appropriate law enforcement agencies regarding certain missing children; and (2) require a local law enforcement agency to enter a report of a missing child or person, no later than two hours after receiving the report, into the clearinghouse, national crime information center missing person file, and Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return crisis number.

H.B. 947 (Lozano) – Education Partnerships:  would establish a pilot program to expand access to career and technical education partnerships in rural areas, including cities with a population of less than 50,000.

H.B. 951 (Lozano) – Rural Economic Development:  would create the “Texas Rural Development Fund” as an account in the state’s general revenue fund.  Money in the account may consist of legislative appropriations, gifts, and donations, and may be spent in rural areas of the state on entrepreneurship programs, regional planning, rural leadership enhancement, and rural youth corps programs.

H.B. 954 (Lozano) – Firearms:  would: (1) preclude an employer from prohibiting an employee who has a concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned vehicle in a parking lot, garage, or parking area provided for employees; but (2) provide that the bill’s restriction on an employer do not: (a) prohibit an employer from requiring that the firearm be hidden from view; (b) apply if the parking area has restricted or limited access; (c) apply if the employer provides an alternative location to store the firearm; (d) apply to property where the possession of a firearm or ammunition is prohibited by law; or (e) apply to a vehicle owned or leased by the employer and used by the employee, unless the employee is required to transport or store a firearm in the official discharge of the employee’s duties.

H.B. 956 (Marquez) – Firefighter Death Investigation:  would broaden the state fire marshal’s authority to investigate firefighter deaths, including any factors that may have contributed to a death in connection with an on-duty incident. (Companion bill is S.B. 396  by Deuell.) 

H.B. 963 (Hartnett) – Cruelty to Animals:  would provide that when an animal’s owner has cruelly treated the animal and been divested of ownership: (1) a court could order the animal to be given to a city or county animal shelter; (2) a court must order the owner to pay any costs incurred by a city or county animal shelter in housing and caring for the animal; (3) a court must set the amount of bond for an appeal to include the estimated costs to house and care for the impounded animal as provided by the city, county, or a nonprofit; (4) an officer that is unable to sell the animal at auction may give the animal to a city or county animal shelter; and (5) the owner may appeal the divestment order and the court shall provide either a transcript, clerk’s record, or audio recording of the proceedings, depending upon whether the court is or is not a court of record.

H.B. 965 (Callegari) – TCEQ License Requirements:  would: (1) permit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to recognize Internet-based continuing education programs; and (2) require the TCEQ to provide a method for certain individuals who hold a license issued by the TCEQ to certify at the time of license renewal that the license holder has complied with the TCEQ’s continuing education requirements.

H.B. 966 (Murphy) – Gas Ratemaking: would – among other things – provide that, in establishing a gas utility’s rates, the regulatory authority (a city or the Railroad Commission) shall allow expenses for pension and other postemployment benefits, as determined by actuarial or other similar studies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, in amounts the regulatory authority finds reasonable and necessary. (Companion bill is S.B. 403 by Eltife.)

H.B. 974 (Dutton) – Elections:  would provide that: (1) an election judge or clerk is entitled to at least one-and-a-half times the federal hourly minimum wage as compensation for services rendered at a precinct polling place; and (2) the election judge or clerk serving in a municipal election shall be paid by the city not later than 72 hours after the time the compensation statement is submitted. 

H.B. 975 (Dutton) – Appraisal Review Board:  would provide that a person who has served all or part of three consecutive terms as a member of an appraisal review board is ineligible to serve on the next appraisal review board during a term that begins on the next January 1 following the third of those consecutive terms. 

H.B. 976 (Carter) – Magistrates:  would permit a magistrate to hear a complaint under oath through an electronic broadcast system, with certain restrictions and requirements.

H.B. 978 (Villareal) – School Boards:  would provide a system for reforming school board governance of  academically unacceptable school districts of a certain size that would allow the mayor of a city with the largest overlapping population of the school district to make appointments to the board if authorized by election to do so.

H.B. 981 (Guillen) – Transportation Funding:  would – among other things – authorize, in certain circumstances, a metropolitan planning organization, a rural planning organization, or a Texas Department of Transportation district to participate in a new “local mobility credit program,” which would allow those entities to accumulate amounts in excess of the local cost share requirement for a federally-financed project, and to use those credits for the local cost share of future projects.

H.B. 983 (Menendez) – Survivor Benefits:  would make a survivor of an employee or trainee killed in the line of duty: (1) eligible to purchase health benefits from the deceased officer’s employer’s benefits carrier even if the survivor has health benefits with another employer; and (2) eligible to apply for health benefits until September 1, 2012 if the officer died after September 1993. (Companion bill is S.B. 423 by Lucio). 

H.B. 984 (Truitt) – Municipal Court:  would authorize a city with a non-record municipal court to enter into an agreement with a contiguous city to provide concurrent and original jurisdiction of the municipal courts in both cities for most types of cases heard by municipal courts.

H.B. 993 (Rodriguez) – Road Closures:  would authorize a firefighter working for a volunteer fire department or a fire department operated by an emergency services district or general-law city to close one or more lanes of a road or highway to protect the safety of persons or property when performing the firefighter’s official duties.

H.B. 997 (Truitt) – TMRS: would: (1) combine the Municipality Accumulation Fund, Employees Saving Fund, and Current Service Annuity Reserve Fund into one fund (the Benefit Accumulation Fund); and (2) require all benefits to be paid into and out of this fund. (Companion bill is S.B. 350 by Williams.) 

H.B. 998 (McClendon) – Dogs:  would: (1) require a dog owner to obtain liability insurance for large male dogs who have not been neutered; and (2) create a class C misdemeanor for the offense of not having the insurance.

H.B. 1005 (Hopson) – Elections:  would: (1) require the secretary of state to establish methods to obtain a photograph of each registered voter for use on voter registration certificates; and (2) require a voter to present his/her voter registration certificate with a photograph, an identification card, or a certain affidavit in order to vote.

H.B. 1011 (Bonnen) – Synthetic Derivatives of Marihuana and Salvia divinorum:  would make synthetic derivatives of marihuana subject to Penalty Group 2 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act and would make salvia divinorum, and its derivatives and extracts, subject to Penalty Group 3 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

H.B. 1014 (Legler) – Municipal Court:  would authorize a justice of the peace to appoint a municipal court judge of a city located in the same county as the justice precinct to serve as a visiting justice of the peace in criminal cases involving a misdemeanor traffic offense.

H.B. 1021 (Guillen) – Historically Underutilized Businesses: would provide that a person who is disabled according to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act is eligible to be listed as a historically underutilized business by the state.

H.B. 1024 (Dutton) – Metal Recycling:  would, among other things, require an individual to show documentation that insulated wire that is being sold for recycling was salvaged from a fire.

H.B. 1038 (Reynolds) – Elections:  would make it a state jail felony for an election officer to knowingly: (1) remove the name of an eligible voter from the list of registered voters or the poll list for the precinct; (2) refuse to accept for voting a person whose acceptance is required by this code, or (3) prevent the deposit in the ballot box of a marked and properly folded ballot that was provided at the polling place to the voter who is depositing it or for whom the deposit is attempted. The bill would also make it a class B misdemeanor for a person to knowingly, and with the intent to prevent another from voting in an election, deceive another person regarding an election or voter eligibility. 

H.B. 1044 (Solomons) – Public Information Act: would provide that certain types of information are expressly public unless they are made confidential under the Public Information Act or other law. (Companion bill is S.B. 375 by Wentworth.)

H.B. 1045 (Fletcher)Police Proficiency Certificates: would require a proficiency certificate issued by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Education and Standards to include the date the license holder became eligible for the certificate.

H.B. 1047 (Schwertner) – Impoundment of Motor Vehicle:  would: (1) authorize a peace officer to impound the vehicle of a person who operates a vehicle but fails to establish financial responsibility for the vehicle, such as liability insurance, and fails to display a driver’s license; (2) require the officer to provide a written explanation about how to recover the vehicle; and (3) establish criteria under which a law enforcement agency may release the vehicle.

H.B. 1053 (D. Patrick) – Fire Fighters:  would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to study and develop rules regarding a tuition exemption for fire science curriculum for fire fighters.

H.B. 1056 (Villarreal) – Affordable Housing:  would: (1) provide that a property tax exemption is available for property owned directly by a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) and for property owned by a 100 percent subsidiary of the CHDO; (2) provide that an entity controlled or equitably owned by a CHDO can receive an exemption, even if it is not a 100 percent subsidiary of the CHDO, only if the entity initially applied for the exemption between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2003; (3) provide that, if a multifamily rental housing property that previously received an exemption has that exemption in question, the owner must file an application with, and comply with the rules promulgated by, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) to determine the availability of the exemption; (4) provide that a non-profit organization that owns a home ownership project or a multifamily rental project, either directly or through a 100 percent subsidiary, may apply for the exemption to either the appraisal district or TDHCA; (5) provide that a non-profit organization that own a multifamily rental project by controlling a limited partnership or similar entity or by equitable ownership must apply for the exemption to TDHCA; (6) require TDHCA to create an application process and rules allowing TDHCA to implement its duties; and (7) clarify that properties that have received the exemption in prior years will not lose the exemption because the population of the county subsequently increases beyond 1.4 million. 

H.B. 1058 (Frullo) -- Assessments:  would allow a city council to contract with the governing body of another taxing unit or the board of directors of an appraisal district to perform the duties of the city relating to the collection of special assessments levied in a public improvement district. (Companion bill is S.B. 422 by Duncan.) 

H.B. 1062 (Madden) – Eminent Domain:  would provide that a city may exercise the right of eminent domain for a public use to acquire public or private property, whether located inside or outside the municipality, for any of an enumerated list of uses in current law, including providing, enlarging, or improving of a municipally owned city hall or any other municipal public use the governing body considers advisable.

H.J.R. 77 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that, beginning on January 1, 2012, the net revenue derived from the tax imposed on the sale, use, or rental of a motor vehicle shall be allocated as follows: (1) twenty-five percent to the credit of the state highway fund; and (2) the remainder as provided by the legislature by general law.

H.J.R. 78 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that, for a state fiscal biennium beginning on or after September 1, 2013 and subject to legislative appropriation, allocation, and direction: (1) three-fourths of the net revenue that is remaining after payment of all refunds allowed by law and expenses of collection that is derived from taxes on motor fuels and lubricants used to propel motor vehicles over public highways shall be used for the sole purpose of constructing and maintaining public highways; and (2) one-fourth of the net revenue shall be allocated to the available school fund.

H.J.R. 79 (C. Howard) – Property Tax:  would amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature to reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten to five percent. (Note: please see H.B. 879, summarized in last week’s edition.) 

S.B. 389 (Williams) – Water Utilities:  would require a water utility that serve 250 connections or more in Harris County and certain surrounding counties to make certain plans and provisions for operations during an emergency, including an extended power outage.

S.B. 417 (West) – Municipal Court Records:  would prohibit a municipal court from disclosing to the public any information that is the subject of an order of nondisclosure.

S.B. 422 (Duncan) – Assessments:  this bill is the same as H.B. 1058, above. 

S.B. 423 (Lucio) – Survivor Benefits:  would make a survivor of an individual killed in the line of duty: (1) eligible to purchase health benefits from the deceased officer’s employer’s benefits carrier even if the survivor has health benefits with another employer; and (2) eligible to apply for health benefits until September 1, 2012, if the officer died after September 1993. (Companion bill is H.B. 983 by Menendez).

S.B. 432 (Jackson) – Property Tax:  would reduce the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area from twelve percent for each month the tax remains unpaid, to six percent for each month the tax remains unpaid, plus interest. (Companion bill is H.B. 803 by Bonnen.)

S.B. 437 (Nelson) – Municipal Utility Districts:  would provide that, to be eligible to vote in an election to confirm the creation of a municipal utility district or to authorize the district’s first bond issuance, a person must reside in the district for at least one year immediately preceding the date of the election.    

S.B. 440 (Lucio) – Mandatory Health Benefit:  would require all individual health benefit plans to cover certain mental illnesses.

S.B. 441 (Lucio) – Mandatory Health Benefit:  would require a health benefit plan to provide coverage for autism spectrum  disorder until the individual is 17 years of age.

S.B. 442 (Wentworth) – Geospatial Data:  would require a city to provide certain notice on each geospatial data product (including any basic map) that: (1) is created or hosted by the city; (2) appears to represent property boundaries; and (3) was not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor. 

S.B. 449 (Watson) – Property Tax:  would: (1) require the State Soil and Water Conservation Board, with the assistance of the comptroller, to develop standards for determining whether land qualifies for appraisal based on water-stewardship use; (2) provide that the chief appraiser and appraisal review board shall apply the standards adopted by the State Soil and Water Conservation board and comptroller; and (3) provide that land is not eligible for appraisal on the basis of use for water stewardship if: (a) the land was appraised as qualified open-space land or qualified timber land at the time the water-stewardship use began; and (b) was developed to a degree that precludes the land from eligibility for appraisal on a basis other than use for water stewardship or under the subchapter relating to qualified timber land.  

S.B. 454 (Ellis) – Energy Conservation: would, among other things, require that a city annually report to the State Energy Conservation Office regarding the entity’s efforts and progress relating to energy conservation, including information regarding the city’s seasonal-specific thermostat settings and thermostat settings for nonpeak or off hours.  

S.B. 455 (Ellis) – Air Quality:  would impose certain restrictions on the location and operation of concrete crushing facilities.

S.B. 459 (Seliger) – Property Assessments: would: (1) authorize a city to create a voluntary property assessment in order to finance certain water improvements; (2) require a city that authorizes contractual assessments for water or energy efficiency improvements to file written notice of each assessment in the real property records of the county in which the property is located; (3) provide that a contractual assessment for water or energy efficiency improvements has the same priority as a lien for city property taxes. (Companion bill is H.B. 659 by Villareal.)

S.B. 462 (West) – Expunction:  would expand the situations in which an individual would be entitled to have all records and files relating to an arrest expunged.

S.B. 474 (Patrick) – Property Tax:  would extend the current ten-percent appraisal cap to business property.  (The cap currently applies only to residential homesteads.)

S.B. 477 (Patrick) – Elections:  would provide that the allocation of election expenses in a joint election involving a school district must provide that the school district is responsible only for the proportion of election expenses that correspond to the total number of registered voters in the school district as compared to the total numbers of registered voters of all political subdivisions participating in the election.

S.B. 480 (Hegar) – Municipal Court:  would provide that, for a conviction from a municipal court of record, an appellant has the right to appeal to the court of appeals if: (1) the fine assessed against the defendant exceeds $100 and the judgment is affirmed by the appellate court; or (2) the sole issue is the constitutionality of the statute or ordinance on which a conviction is based.

S.B. 492 (Fraser) – Solar Power Incentives:  would, among many other things, provide that: (1) the bill applies only to an electric cooperative or municipally owned utility with retail sales of more than 500,000 megawatt hours in 2007; (2) electric cooperatives and municipally owned utilities administer incentive programs that increase the amount of solar generation capacity installed in this state in a cost-effective, market-neutral, and nondiscriminatory manner; (3) customers of electric cooperatives and municipally owned utilities will have access to incentives for the installation of distributed solar generation; (4) electric cooperatives and municipally owned utilities expend funds to increase the amount of solar generation capacity at a total funding level consistent with the requirements for investor owned electric utilities in this state; (5) beginning not later than September 1, 2014, an electric cooperative or municipally owned utility must report annually to the state energy conservation office information regarding the efforts of the municipally owned utility or electric cooperative related to solar power; and (6) an electric cooperative or municipally owned utility may recover the costs imposed by the bill through a nonbypassable fee or another cost recovery mechanism as determined by the governing body of the electric cooperative or municipally owned utility.

S.B. 494 (Fraser) – Finance:  would allow a local governmental entity, including a city, to borrow money for purposes of a hospital owned or operated by the entity at a rate not to exceed the maximum annual percentage rate allowed by law at the time the loan is made.

S.B. 500 (Jackson) – Red Light Cameras:  would: (1) prohibit a local authority, including a city, from implementing or operating an automated traffic control system with respect to a highway or street under its jurisdiction (but would grandfather certain, existing contracts); (2) repeal a municipal court’s jurisdiction over cases involving photographic traffic signal enforcement offenses; (3)  repeal provisions of the Health and Safety Code that establish regional trauma accounts; (4) repeal provisions of the Transportation Code that establish the amount of and direct the deposit of civil and administrative penalties collected as a result of a photographic traffic signal enforcement system; and (5) repeal Chapter 707 of the Transportation Code, which authorizes a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.

S.J.R. 17 (Carona) – Unfunded Mandates:  would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that no bill enacted on or after January 1, 2012 that imposes on a city, or a special district created by a city, a duty that requires the expenditure of revenue is effective unless an appropriation or other form of payment or reimbursement is provided from a resource other than the revenue of the city or special district. 

S.J.R. 20 (Patrick) – Property Tax:  would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to apply a ten-percent appraisal cap to business property. (Note: please see S.B. 474, above.) 

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