CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

H.B. 9 (Truitt) – Transportation Funding: would enact the Texas Local Option Transportation Act, which as filed would affect a limited number of cities. The bill would:

  1. Authorize several new transportation funding methods, including: (a) a county tax on the sale of motor vehicle fuel, at a rate not to exceed ten cents per gallon, a rate that would be annually adjusted according to the producer price index; (b) a local-option mobility improvement fee in an amount not to exceed $60; (c) a parking regulation and management fee in the amount of $1 per hour/per vehicle for use of a parking space; (d) an annual motor vehicle emissions fee based on the amount of pollutants released by a vehicle, not to exceed $15; (e) a fee for the renewal of a driver's license issued to a county resident; and (f) a new resident roadway impact fee, in an amount not to exceed $250, which would not be limited to the uses of other impact fees in current law.
  2. Provide that the commissioners court of a county by order may call an election on the issue of authorizing one or more funding methods under the bill for one or more mobility or transportation improvement projects located in the county, including passenger rail, transit, roadway, and freight rail projects.
  3. Provide that the commissioners court shall call an election on the issue of authorizing one or more funding methods under the bill on receipt of: (a) a resolution requesting that the election be called that was adopted by the governing bodies of at least two cities that are located partially or completely in the county and contain at least 60 percent of the county's total population; or (b) a petition requesting that the election be called signed by a number of registered voters of the county equal to at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the county for all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial general election.
  4. Provide that the commissioners court may not call an election without holding a public hearing on the matter.
  5. Provide that the election order and ballot must contain specific information about each funding option and projects to be funded.
  6. Provide that an election called under the bill must be held on a uniform election date in May or November or on a general primary election date in March.
  7. Limit an election under the bill to no more often than once per year.
  8. Provide that the commissioners court may fund a mobility or transportation improvement project under the bill only if the project is determined to be necessary and appropriate by the metropolitan planning organization for the region in which the county is located, and that the court should use its best efforts to ensure that each project selected for inclusion on a ballot benefits contributing political subdivisions in approximate proportion to the amount of revenue collected from each political subdivision.
  9. Provide that, at a minimum, the order imposing the method or methods of local-option funding shall specify: (a) the rate or amount of the method or methods approved at the election; and (b) the manner in which each method will be administered, collected, and enforced.
  10. Provide that for any method authorized by the bill, the commissioners court, after conducting a public hearing, may by order establish an exemption, waiver, or partial reduction for individuals of low or moderate income who demonstrate significant financial hardship.
  11. Mandate that the county establish a Local Option Transportation Fund and shall deposit in the fund the proceeds of any funding method imposed by the county into separate accounts.
  12. Limit the use of the money in the Local Option Transportation Fund to: (a) reimbursing or paying the costs of planning, acquiring, establishing, developing, constructing, or renovating a mobility or transportation improvement project for which a method of local option funding was imposed; (b) paying the principal of, interest on, or other costs relating to bonds or other obligations issued by the county or to refund bonds, notes, or other obligations issued by a transit or transportation authority for a mobility or transportation improvement project for which a method of local-option funding was imposed; (c) refunding the costs of operating or maintaining a mobility or transportation improvement project for which a method of local-option funding was imposed; and; (d) funding various other specifically enumerated items.
  13. Provide that a county may not be penalized with a reduction in traditional transportation funding because of the imposition of a method of local-option funding under the bill.

(Companion is S.B. 855 by Carona. It is likely that legislators will attempt to broaden the applicability of this legislation to more areas of the state.)

H.B. 1194 (Dukes) – Propane Utilities: would provide that a propane utility is considered a “gas utility” for purposes of the Gas Utilities Regulatory Act. (Note: the effect of the bill would be to grant a city original jurisdiction over the rates and services of a propane utility and allow a city’s decisions to be appealed to the Texas Railroad Commission.)

H.B. 1202 (Rose) – Property Tax: would: (1) require a person seeking a delay, because of hardship, in payment of property taxes pending appeal to give notice of the required court hearing to the tax collector for each taxing entity; and (2) permit a taxing unit to intervene in the court proceeding at which the hardship is considered.

H.B. 1205 (Button) – Property Tax: would permit tax collectors to make refunds of erroneously paid property taxes in amounts up to $5,000 without approval by the city council in a city located in a county over 2,000,000 population. (Companion bill is S.B. 797 by Carona.)

H.B. 1206 (Vo) – Cell Phone Ban: would: (1) prohibit a driver from using a cell phone while driving unless the vehicle is stopped or the cell phone is used with a hands-free device; (2) create affirmative defenses for those situations in which the cell phone was being used in an emergency; and (3) provide that the prohibition does not apply to uses in connection with the official duties of emergency response personnel and police.

H.B. 1207 (Vo) – Cell Phone Ban: would prohibit a person from reading, writing, or sending a text message while operating a motor vehicle, bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device.

H.B. 1208 (McClendon) – Rail Relocation Funding: would provide that some of the proceeds from the collection of state franchise and sales taxes on the purchase of taxable items by a rail carrier shall be deposited to the credit of the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund.

H.B. 1211 (C. Howard) – Property Tax: would reduce the annual property tax appraisal cap from ten percent to five percent. (Note: please see H.J.R. 61, below.)

H.B. 1213 (Rios Ybarra) – Golf Carts: would require the commissioner of the General Land Office to establish rules regarding the way in which a city may regulate the use of golf carts by disabled persons on public beaches. (Companion bill is S.B. 804 by Lucio.)

H.B. 1221 (C. Howard) – Property Tax: would do the following: (1) eliminate the requirement that appraisal value notices must include estimated tax liability based on an application of last year’s tax rate to this year’s appraised value; (2) require tax assessors to submit the appraisal roll to a city not later than 21 days after the date the appraisal roll is certified to the assessor; (3) require a city to calculate its effective tax rate not later than 30 days after it receives the certified appraisal roll from the assessor; (4) require the person who calculates the effective tax rate to submit the rate to the city council within five days of making the calculation; (5) require the chief appraiser, after receipt of preliminary tax rate information by the city, to send a notice to property owners indicating detailed proposed tax information; (6) extend from 60 to 90 days the deadline for a city to adopt its tax rates after receiving a late certified appraisal roll; (7) provide that if the requirements of number 5, above, are not met due to circumstances beyond the city’s control, such as a natural disaster, the city must adopt a default property tax rate for the year that is the lower of the effective tax rate or last year’s adopted rate; (8) eliminate the application of the default tax rate provision in cases where the city council fails to meet the statutory deadline for adopting a tax rate (Note: it appears that the confusing provisions in numbers 7 and 8, above, may be unintended features of this bill); and (9) require a city council, before giving notice of tax increase hearings, to take a record vote on the proposal to increase taxes and that the motion for that vote must be as follows: “I move that a proposal to increase property taxes by the adoption of a tax rate of (specify tax rate) be placed on the agenda for the meeting to be held on (date at which the governing body anticipates adopting the tax rate).”

H.B. 1224 (Laubenberg) – Sex Offenders: would authorize a general law city to determine the area, surrounding a premise where children commonly gather, within which a registered sex offender may not reside.

H.B. 1227 (Mallory Caraway) – Gas Utility Billing: would provide that a gas utility or municipally-owned utility providing service to a retail customer may not disconnect service or pursue any other collection options for nonpayment of a balance due before the 30th day after the date on which the statement is issued.

H.B. 1228 (Jackson) – Law Enforcement: would expand the rights of victims of felony property offenses with regard to access to information regarding the criminal case involving their property, including a requirement that law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation must provide requested information regarding the case to the victim.

H.B. 1229 (C. Howard) – Property Tax: would provide that appraisal review board members shall be appointed by the county commissioners court rather than by the appraisal district’s board of directors as current law provides.

H.B. 1234 (Menendez) – Graffiti: would: (1) allow a city to require a person who sells aerosol paint to require proof of identification before making a sale; (2) allow the city to require that the sale be recorded in a log to be maintained for at least two years; and (3) make it a crime for a person who purchases aerosol paint to fail to take reasonable steps to prevent access to the paint by a minor.

H.B. 1236 (Menendez) – Court Fines: would: (1) increase the maximum fine to $4,000 for the offense of failure to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian when the pedestrian is disabled or visually impaired and when a collision causes serious injury or death; (2) require offenders to complete community service in an organization that primarily serves disabled or visually impaired persons; (3) require a court to keep separate records of the money collected under this provision; and (4) require a court to remit ten percent of the total fine money collected under this provision to the state.

H.B. 1245 (Brown) – Water and Sewer Ratemaking: would: (1) remove the ability of a party appealing a ratemaking decision by a city’s governing body, including an investor-owned water utility and utility customers in the ETJ, to request interim rates during a ratemaking appeal to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ); and (2) permit the executive director of the TCEQ to establish interim rates during a ratemaking appeal. (Companion bill is S.B. 719 by Nichols.)

H.B. 1247 (Jackson) – Property Tax: would: (1) provide that requests for refunds of property tax overpayments shall be made to the tax collector rather than to the auditor as current law requires; and (2) in a city located in a county over 2 million in population, streamline the process for taxpayers to apply for refunds of property taxes if the amount to be refunded does not exceed $5,000. (Companion bill is S.B. 798 by Carona.)

H.B. 1254 (Callegari) – Red Light Cameras: would require a city with a red light camera system to attach a flashing caution light to the sign that indicates the presence of a red light camera.

H.B. 1256 (Allen) – Elections: would require an election judge to post notice at one or more locations at a polling place regarding whom to contact to complain about the conduct of the election.

H.B. 1257 (Legler) – Property Tax: would permit certain small businesses (defined generally in the bill as businesses with less than $5 million in yearly gross receipts) that are located in a disaster area and were damaged by the disaster to pay property taxes in four equal installments over an eight-month period.

H.B. 1260 (Hopson) – DWI Offender Registration Program: would create a DWI offender registration program requiring, among other things, that local law enforcement authorities must serve as the primary registration point for those individuals subject to registration.

H.B. 1267 (Turner) – Cell Phones: would prohibit a driver from using a wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text message unless the vehicle is stopped. (This bill is identical to H.B. 1179 by Chavez.)

H.B. 1268 (P. King) – Impact Fees: would provide that a school district is not required to pay fees for an individual meter connection to a city's water or wastewater system, unless the board of trustees of the district consents to the payment of the fees by entering into a contract with the political subdivision that imposes the fees.

H.B. 1269 (Hughes) – Property Tax: would make certain organizations that are engaged primarily in charitable activities (typically fraternal organizations) automatically eligible to receive a charitable tax exemption, whereas current law requires action by the city council or an election to grant the exemption. (Companion bill is S.B. 475 by Wentworth.)

H.B. 1283 (Eiland) – Property Tax: would: (1) permit the owner of any property that is located in a disaster area and is damaged by the disaster to pay property taxes in four equal installments over an eight-month period (Note: current law only permits owners of residential homesteads to pay in installments); and (2) lower from twelve to eight percent the penalty on taxes paid after the due date under such an installment plan.

H.B. 1287 (Eiland) – Property Tax: would require appraisal districts to biennially adopt a plan for the reappraisal of property following a natural disaster. (Companion bill is S.B. 590 by Jackson.)

H.B. 1290 (Oliveira) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would require the issuer of a health benefit plan, including a local government risk pool, to provide coverage for certain tests for the detection of cardiovascular disease.

H.B. 1292 (Eiland) – Property Tax: would: (1) permit a city to adopt a complete homestead property tax exemption for active duty military personnel serving at least 60 miles from their homestead for longer than six months; and (2) provide that a city adopts the exemption either by council action or by an election called upon receipt of a petition signed by 20 percent of the qualified voters who voted in the most recent city election. (Note: please see H.J.R. 64, below.)

H.B. 1301 (Frost) – Firearms: would: (a) 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 (b) provide that the bill’s restriction on an employer do not 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 course and scope of duty. (Companion bill is S.B. 730 by Hegar.)

H.B. 1305 (Aycock) – DWI: would remove legal liability for a person who takes a blood alcohol specimen (except in cases of negligence in the taking of the specimen) if the specimen is taken pursuant to a search warrant or at the request or order of a peace officer.

H.B. 1315 (Ortiz) – Child Abuse Reports: would: (1) require a law enforcement agency to provide reports of child abuse or neglect in response to a request from either the child who is the subject of the reported abuse or the child’s parent or guardian, unless the parent or guardian is alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect; (2) require a law enforcement agency to redact any personally identifiable information regarding a victim or witness under 18 years of age who is not the child requestor or other child of the parent or guardian; and (3) require a law enforcement agency to redact any information that is otherwise excepted from required disclosure under law.

H.B. 1328 (McClendon) – Property Tax: would provide that once granted, a property tax exemption for certain solar and wind-powered energy devices located on land that qualifies for a homestead exemption need not be reapplied for in subsequent tax years. (Companion bill is S.B. 832 by Wentworth.)

H.B. 1338 (Leibowitz) – Retaliatory Lawsuits: would: (1) allow a person to file suit and recover damages, including exemplary damages, against a complainant who files a claim, in bad faith, with a governmental or quasi-governmental agency against the person; (2) allow a complainant to recover damages, including exemplary damages, from a person who files suit under the above provision in an effort to intimidate or harass the complainant, when the complainant filed the complaint with the governmental or quasi-governmental agency in good faith; and (3) disallow a cause of action against a governmental or quasi-governmental agency in such cases.

H.B. 1341 (B. Brown) – Water and Sewer Utilities: would prohibit a city’s governing body or other regulatory authority from considering legal expenses incurred by a non-municipal water or sewer utility in a contested ratemaking case, or an appeal of that case, except for certain cost reimbursements outlined in current state law.

H.B. 1342 (Menendez) – Health Benefit Plan Information: would require health benefit plan providers, including intergovernmental risk pools, to use technology that provides: (1) real-time information, at the point of service, concerning deductibles and the enrollee’s potential total financial responsibility; and (2) real-time adjudication of claims at the point-of-service. The bill also prohibits a plan from charging a fee for such information services. (Companion bill is S.B. 863 by Harris.)

H.B. 1343 (Menendez) – Court Fines: this bill is substantially the same as H.B. 1236 by Menendez, above. (Companion bill is S.B. 647 by Van de Putte.)

H.B. 1344 (Menendez) – Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS): would require the TMRS Board to establish a nine-member advisory committee. (Note: TMRS has had an advisory committee for many years. This bill would establish the committee in state law.)

H.B. 1354 (Vaught) – DWI: would allow any magistrate who is a licensed attorney to issue a search warrant to collect a blood specimen from individuals arrested for certain intoxication offenses.

H.B. 1360 (Anchia) – Public Information Act: would allow an attorney representing the state to release information to defense counsel regarding a pending or reasonably anticipated criminal case without waiving the right to assert that the information is excepted from disclosure under the Public Information Act in the future.

H.B. 1373 (D. Howard) – Sovereign Immunity: would waive sovereign immunity to permit nurses to sue local governments, including cities, for retaliation. (Companion bill is S.B. 886 by Nelson.)

H.B. 1376 (Thompson) – Sales Tax: would do the following regarding intrastate sourcing of city sales taxes: (1) eliminate sourcing at the location from which an item is shipped if an order is placed at another location in the state that is also a place of business of a retailer; and (2) generally source city sales taxes at the location where an order is received when there is more than one place of business of the retailer. (Companion bill is S.B. 852 by Patrick.)

H.B. 1377 (Thompson) – Sales Tax: would do the following regarding the reallocation of city sales tax revenues due to a mistake: (1) reduce the statute of limitations (also known as the “look back” provision) for reallocation of city sales taxes from four years to one year; (2) grant cities a right to notification and hearing regarding reallocation decisions, as well as a right of appeal to a Travis County district court; and (3) prohibit cities from using reallocated sales tax proceeds for certain economic development grants. (Companion bill is S.B. 851 by Patrick.)

H.B. 1378 (Thompson) – Electric Utilities: would allow an electric utility to include in a base rate proceeding the utility’s “system restoration costs” and “self-insurance reserves” following weather-related events or natural disasters. (Companion bill is S.B. 769 by Williams.)

H.J.R. 9 (Truitt) – Rail Funding: would provide that the state motor fuels tax may be used for the purpose of constructing, maintaining, and operating passenger rail, transit, and freight rail. (Companion bill is S.J.R. 24 by Carona.)

H.J.R. 61 (C. Howard) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to reduce the property tax appraisal cap from ten percent to five percent. (Note: please see H.B. 1211, above.)

H.J.R. 64 (Eiland) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to do the following: (1) permit a city to adopt a complete homestead property tax exemption for active duty military personnel serving at least 60 miles from their homestead for longer than six months; and (2) provide that a city adopts the exemption either by council action or by an election called upon receipt of a petition signed by 20 percent of the qualified voters who voted in the most recent city election. (Note: please see H.B. 1292, above.)

S.B. 777 (Ogden) – Law Enforcement: would require a city police department to report information to the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding: (1) the number of arrests the department made for intoxication offenses relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated; and (2) how many of those arrests resulted in a release with no charges.

S.B. 792 (Nelson) – Sales Tax: would permit the board of directors of a fire control district, an emergency services district, or a crime control and prevention district to repeal the sales tax exemption on residential gas and electricity in the portion of the district that is located in a city that has also acted to repeal the exemption.

S.B. 797 (Carona) – Property Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 1205 by Button, above.

S.B. 798 (Carona) – Property Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 1247 by Jackson, above.

S.B. 801 (Hegar) – Property Tax: would move the timber production property tax exemption from the wildlife management section of the Tax Code to the open-space management section of the Tax Code. (Note: cities with significant numbers of timber production property tax exemptions should examine the effect of the proposed bill.)

S.B. 804 (Lucio) – Golf Carts: this bill is the same as H.B. 1213 by Rios Ybarra, above.

S.B. 820 (Duncan) – Building Codes: would: (1) provide that the governing body of a city may establish a model building codes advisory board to review and recommend the adoption of and amendment or addition to national model codes to govern the construction, renovation, use, or maintenance of buildings and building systems in the city; (2) mandate that the board have twelve members representing specific groups in the city; (3) force a city that has not established a board under (1) above (or that has not established a substantially similar advisory body) before the effective date of the bill to provide to any person who registers with the city secretary written notice when the city considers the adoption of or amendment or addition to an ordinance or a national model code that is intended to govern the construction, renovation, use, or maintenance of buildings and building systems in the city; (4) mandate that the notice be sent at least 30 days before the date the governing body takes action to consider the adoption of or amendment or addition to an ordinance or code provision; (5) provide that, if a delay in the adoption of or amendment or addition to an ordinance or code provision would cause imminent harm to the health or safety of the public, the city may provide alternative reasonable notice to each person who registers; and (6) mandate that a city that adopts an ordinance or national model code provision that is intended to govern the construction, renovation, use, or maintenance of buildings and building systems in the city shall delay implementing and enforcing the ordinance or code provision for at least 30 days after final adoption to permit persons affected to comply with the ordinance or code provision, unless the delay would cause imminent harm to the health or safety of the public. (Companion is H.B. 554 by Menendez.)

S.B. 828 (Whitmire) – Criminal Law: would provide that multiple financial transactions must be accumulated for purposes of enhancing punishment under the criminal offense of abuse of official capacity.

S.B. 832 (Wentworth) – Property Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 1328 by McClendon, above.

S.B. 851 (Patrick) – Sales Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 1377 by Thompson, above.

S.B. 852 (Patrick) – Sales Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 1376 by Thompson, above.

S.B. 855 (Carona) – Transportation Funding: this bill is the same as H.B. 9 by Truitt, above.

S.B. 863 (Harris) – Health Benefit Plan Information: this bill is the same as H.B. 1342 by Menendez, above.

S.B. 873 (Harris) – Property Tax: would require an appraisal district that operates an Internet Web site to implement a system for electronic filing of appraisal protests.

S.B. 877 (Ellis) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would generally require health benefit plans to provide coverage for HIV tests.

S.B. 883 (Carona) – Transportation Funding: would prohibit the Texas Department of Transportation from pledging or otherwise encumbering money deposited in the state highway fund to: (1) guarantee a loan obtained by a public or private entity for costs associated with a toll facility of the public or private entity; or (2) insure bonds issued by a public or private entity for costs associated with a toll facility of the public or private entity.

S.B. 886 (Nelson) – Sovereign Immunity: this bill is the same as H.B. 1373 by D. Howard, above.

S.B. 894 (Nelson) – Public Funds Investment: would permit a city to invest revenues from oil, gas, and mineral leases in any investment that is legal under the Texas Trust Code.

S.B. 898 (Shapleigh) – Rail Funding: would, among other things, add the enhancement of a city's ability to provide for freight or passenger rail facilities or systems to the permissible purposes of a municipal transportation reinvestment zone.

S.B. 901 (Deuell) – Regulation of Health Benefit Plans: would establish procedures under which the state would regulate the rates charged for health benefit coverage.

S.B. 907 (Williams) – Flags: would require that: (1) a U.S. flag purchased by a city must be manufactured in the United States; and (2) a Texas flag purchased by a city must be manufactured in Texas.

S.B. 908 (Williams) – Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS): would make the following changes to the TMRS statute: (1) guarantee an annual interest credit of at least five percent to member accounts and set the annuity purchase rate for retirees at a minimum of five percent; (2) allow the crediting of unrealized income to certain accounts; and (3) allow city accounts to receive annual interest at a rate different from the member rate, including negative interest. (This bill is identical to H.B. 360 by Kuempel.)

S.B. 922 (Harris) – Magistrates: would: (1) allow a judge to refer criminal cases to district-court-appointed magistrates for proceedings including bail, agreed orders of expunction, asset forfeiture hearings, agreed orders of nondisclosure, and hearings on motions to revoke probation, as well as civil cases arising out of certain criminal proceedings; (2) prohibit a district-court-appointed magistrate from hearing a jury trial on the merits of a bond forfeiture; (3) allow a district-court-appointed magistrate to accept a negotiated plea on a probation revocation, conduct a contested probation revocation hearing, and sign a dismissal in a misdemeanor case; and (4) allow certain district-court-appointed magistrates to issue certain types of search warrants.

S.J.R. 24 (Carona) – Rail Funding: this bill is the same as H.J.R. 9 by Truitt, above.

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