H.B. 263 (Hilderbran) – Underground Excavations: would provide, among other things: (1) that the “call before you dig” requirements in current law do not apply to an emergency excavation that is necessary to respond to a situation that endangers life, health, or property; and (2) for procedures and increased penalties for certain violations under the bill.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1217 by Estes.)

H.B. 268 (Hilderbran) – Sales Tax:  would require a person to apply for and obtain an exemption number from the comptroller in order to qualify for a sales tax exemption for certain agricultural items.

H.B. 270 (Hilderbran) – Sales Tax:  would require the state comptroller, upon request, to provide to a city information relating to the amount of sales tax paid to the city during the preceding calendar year by each entity doing business in the city that remits annual sales tax payments of more than $5,000 to the comptroller.

H.B. 274 (Creighton) – Litigation:  this is omnibus tort reform legislation and would make various procedural changes to civil litigation regarding attorney’s fees, early dismissal, expedited trials, and certain remedies and procedures.  (Note:  city attorneys need to review this bill carefully.)

H.B. 303 (McClendon) – Commuter Rail Districts:  would provide, among other things, that: (1) an agreement to create an intermunicipal commuter rail district may establish one or more transportation infrastructure tax increment zones, which may consist of a contiguous or noncontiguous geographic area in the territory of one or more local governments; (2) a district and a local government may agree that, at one or more specified times, the local government will pay to the district an amount that is calculated on the basis of increased ad valorem tax collections in a zone that are attributable to increased values of property located in the zone resulting from an infrastructure project; and (3) money received by a district may be used to, among other things, pay economic development costs associated with district projects, including a portion of the cost of affordable housing in a zone, assistance to a private entity to provide affordable housing in the zone, or for acquiring property rights for underdeveloped lands in the zone to be preserved for the benefit of the public.

H.B. 800 (C. Anderson) – Purchasing:  would provide that an interlocal contract between a governmental entity and a purchasing cooperative may not be used to purchase roofing materials or services, including materials or services for construction, repair, or replacement of a roof.

H.B. 2398 (S. Miller) – Groundwater: would: (1) recognize a landowner’s or landowner’s lessee’s ownership of groundwater in place and right to produce groundwater; and (2) permit a landowner’s or landowner’s lessee’s groundwater rights to be limited only by a rule promulgated by a groundwater conservation district if the rule is consistent with Sections 3, 17, and 19, Article I, of the Texas Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

H.B. 2447 (Hartnett) – Sales Tax: would provide that, for sales tax purposes, the sales price of telecommunications services does not include the following assessments and fees, if the assessment or fee is passed through to the purchaser of the service: (1) the utility gross receipts assessment; (2) the state universal service fund assessment; (3) the federal universal service fund charge; or (4) a municipal franchise fee or right-of-way fee.

H.B. 2490 (Solomons) – Precious Metals: would, among many new provisions regarding the sale of precious crafted metals, provide that: (1) the Texas Finance Commission shall regulate and license persons in the business of purchasing and selling crafted previous metal; (2) a peace officer who has reasonable suspicion to believe that an item of crafted precious metal in the possession of a dealer is stolen may place the item on hold by issuing to the dealer a written notice that specifically identifies the item alleged to be stolen and subject to the hold and  informs the dealer of the bill’s requirements; and (3) on receiving the notice, the dealer may not melt, deface, alter, or dispose of the identified crafted precious metal until the hold is released in writing by a peace officer or a court order.

H.B. 2527 (Harper-Brown) – Transportation Funding: would provide that, beginning in ten percent increments in 2013 and being complete in 2022, the net revenue derived from the state sales tax imposed on the sale of a motor vehicle sold in this state shall be deposited to the credit of the state highway fund. (Companion bill is S.B. 523 by Nichols.)

H.B. 2571 (Martinez) – Transportation Reinvestment Zones: would authorize a city or a county to establish a transportation reinvestment zone to provide commuter rail services in counties adjacent to the Texas-Mexico border and from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio.

H.B. 2608 (Harper-Brown) – Department of Housing and Community Affairs:  this is the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) sunset bill.  It would, among many other things, provide that: (1) TDHCA is continued for 12 years; (2) pursuant to the Texas Disaster Act, each local and interjurisdictional agency shall prepare and keep current an emergency management plan for its area providing for disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery that identifies any requirements or procedures that local agencies and officials must satisfy or implement to qualify for long-term federal disaster recovery funding, prepare for long-term disaster recovery, and  any appropriate state or local resources available to assist the local agencies and officials in satisfying or implementing those requirements or procedures; (3) TDHCA, in consultation with the Texas Department of Rural Affairs and the office of the governor, shall develop – in consultation with local government officials and others – a long-term disaster recovery plan to administer money received for disaster recovery from the federal government or any other source; and (4) if an application for low income housing tax credits satisfies TDHCA’s threshold criteria, TDHCA shall score and rank the application using a point system that takes into account – among other things – quantifiable community participation with respect to the development evaluated on the basis of a resolution concerning the development that is voted on and adopted by the governing body of a city whose boundaries contain the proposed development site or by the commissioners court of a county whose boundaries contain the proposed development site.  (Companion bill is S.B. 665 by Hinojosa.)

H.B. 2612 (Aliseda) – Elections:  would require the county or district attorney to notify the attorney general of allegations of criminal conduct in connection with an election if no prosecution is initiated.

H.B. 2619 (Callegari) – Water and Wastewater Facilities: would provide that: (1) each water and wastewater utility, including a municipally owned utility, shall submit certain infrastructure information to each retail electric provider that sells electric power to the utility, each electric utility that provides transmission and distribution service to the utility, the office of emergency management of each county in which the utility has water and wastewater facilities that qualify for critical load status under rules adopted by the Public Utility Commission (PUC), and to the PUC and the division of emergency management of the governor; and (2) if an electric utility determines that a water or wastewater utility’s facilities do not qualify for critical load status, the electric utility and the retail electric provider shall provide a detailed explanation of the electric utility’s determination to the affected utility and to the office of emergency management of the county in which the water and wastewater facilities are located.

H.B. 2620 (Hancock) – Telecommunications: would provide, among other things, that: (1) a city may not by rule, order, or other means directly or indirectly regulate rates charged for, service or contract terms for, conditions for, or requirements for entry into the market for Voice over Internet Protocol services or other Internet Protocol enabled services; and (2) the limitation in (1), above, does not: (a) affect payment of municipal right-of-way fees applicable to Voice over Internet Protocol services; (b) affect any person’s obligation to provide video service as defined by S.B. 5 (2005)(the state video franchise law) under any applicable state or federal law; or (c) require or prohibit assessment of enhanced 9-1-1, relay access service, or universal service fund fees on Voice over Internet Protocol service.  (Companion bill is S.B. 980 by Carona.)

H.B. 2623 (Beck) – Critical Governmental Facilities:  would require the State Energy Conservation Office to establish guidelines for the evaluation required by state law when a critical governmental facility (including a jail, police or fire station, and water or wastewater facility, among others) is constructed, renovated, or major heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment is replaced in order to determine whether installing a combined heating and power system would result in energy cost savings over a twenty-year period.

H.B. 2628 (Branch) – Cell Phone Ban:  would: (1) repeal current requirements to post signs at school crossing zones regarding the prohibited use of wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle; and (2) remove the provision in current law that makes the absence of such a sign an affirmative defense to prosecution.

H.B. 2629 (Branch) – Gifts to Public Servants: would exempt honorariums from the list of political contributions and prohibited gifts that may be given to a public official. 

H.B. 2641 (Burnam) – Waiver of Immunity: would subject a person, including a city, to liability for damages if the city deprives a person of any immunities, rights, or privileges provided to the person under state law. 

H.B. 2651 (Allen) – Public Transportation: would provide that a public transportation provider that provides services designed for people with disabilities who are unable to use the provider’s bus or rail services shall determine if an individual who resides outside of the provider’s service area and who seeks to use the provider’s services while visiting the provider’s service area is eligible to use the services not later than 48 hours after the individual gives the provider the appropriate notice and submits any required documentation.

H.B. 2653 (V. Taylor) – Retirement Benefits:  would allow an employer, including a city, to adopt a pension revocation policy in an employment contract that would revoke an employee’s pension if the employee is finally convicted of a felony or misdemeanor of moral turpitude as specified in the employment contract.

H.B. 2656 (S. Miller) – Private Security:  would limit the exemptions for individuals required to comply with  the Private Security Act to current peace officers who are currently employed by a law enforcement agency.  (The bill is unclear as to whether all officers, or only the heads of law enforcement agencies, retain the exemption.)

H.B. 2661 (Kleinschmidt) – Litigation:  would: (1) allow governmental units, including cities, to elect to use settlement procedures in state law, including written settlement offer and acceptance requirements; and (2) if a city elects to use these provisions as a defendant and has a settlement offer rejected, the city could recover litigation costs from a plaintiff if the court judgment is more favorable to the defendant than the settlement offered by the defendant.

H.B. 2663 (Chisum) – LP Gas: would provide that the rules and standards promulgated and adopted by the Railroad Commission preempt and supersede any ordinance, order, or rule adopted by a political subdivision relating to any aspect or phase of the liquefied petroleum gas industry.

H.B. 2665 (P. King) – Plumbing: would transfer the regulatory authority of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

H.B. 2668 (Miles) – TCEQ Penalties:  would increase the range of penalties for statute and rule violations under the jurisdiction of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

H.B. 2669 (Miles) – Urban Farming: would create an advisory committee to study urban farming.

H.B. 2672 (Dutton) – Culverts and Drainage Systems: would, in relation to culverts and other enclosed flood or drainage systems, require a local government entity to:  (1) ensure that the system is protected by a bar, grate, or covering; (2) post a sign warning of the hazard for a child; and (3) provide a hinged or similar opening to permit emergency services personnel to access the system.

H.B. 2673 (Dutton) – Tree Mitigation Fees: would provide that, if a city requires as a condition for the approval of a permit that the applicant pay to the city or to a third party a tree mitigation fee to offset the impacts of the activity that the permit will authorize, the amount of the tree mitigation fee shall be roughly proportionate to the impacts of the activity on the public.

H.B. 2675 (Harper-Brown) – Department of Transportation:  this is the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) sunset bill.  Among many other things, it would:

  1. replace the Texas Transportation Commission with a single appointed commissioner who is appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate for a term of two years that expires February 1 of each odd-numbered year;
  2. require TxDOT to develop a statewide transportation plan covering a period of 24 years and that is updated every four years that contains all modes of transportation;
  3. provide that the plan must contain specific, long-term transportation goals for the state and measurable targets for each goal, identify priority corridors, projects, or areas of the state that are of particular concern in meeting the plan goals, and contain a participation plan specifying methods for obtaining formal input on the plan’s goals and priorities with input from, among others, political subdivisions;
  4. require TxDOT to establish a project information reporting system that makes available in a central location on the Internet easily accessible and searchable information regarding all of TxDOT’s transportation plans;
  5. require TxDOT to develop a process to identify and distinguish between the transportation projects that are required to maintain the state infrastructure and the transportation projects that would improve the state infrastructure in a manner consistent with the statewide transportation plan;
  6. require TxDOT to evaluate and publish a report about the status of each transportation goal for this state and to provide a copy of each district’s report to the political subdivisions located in the district that is the subject of the report;
  7. require TxDOT to develop and implement a policy for public involvement that guides and encourages public involvement with TxDOT;
  8. require TxDOT to develop a unified transportation program covering a period of 10 years and updated each year to guide the development of and authorize construction of transportation projects;
  9. provide that the commission shall develop criteria for major transportation projects, program priority categories, and funding allocation and distribution;
  10. provide that any fines or fees received under the Texas highway Beautification Act go to the state highway fund, as opposed to the state highway beautification account;
  11. create additional administrative procedures, fees, and civil penalties relating to outdoor advertising that is subject to state law;
  12. provide that the combined license and permit fees may not exceed $10 for an off-premise sign erected and maintained by a nonprofit organization in a city or a city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction if the sign relates to or promotes only the city or a political subdivision whose jurisdiction is wholly or partly concurrent with the city; and
  13. require TxDOT, in cooperation with local governments, to actively manage a system of changeable message signs located on highways under the jurisdiction of TxDOT to mitigate traffic congestion by providing current information to the traveling public, including information about traffic incidents, weather conditions, road construction, and alternative routes when applicable.

(Companion bill is S.B. 1420 by Hinojosa.)

H.B. 2677 (Shelton) – Municipal Electric Utilities: would provide that a school district served by a municipally owned electric utility that has not chosen to participate in customer choice shall, within the certificated retail service area of the utility, have the right of customer choice as if the utility had chosen to participate in customer choice.

H.B. 2679 (T. Smith) – Dangerous Dogs: would: (1) provide for a jury trial for dangerous dog trials in any court; (2) allow an appeal to county court for an animal control authority determination or a municipal court or justice court order regarding a dangerous dog; and (3) require a dog owner who utilizes the appeal process to post a bond in the amount of the cost to house the animal during the appeal.

H.B. 2683 (Lucio) – Collective Bargaining: would: (1) allow a city to negotiate changes to retirement benefits under the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) with employees covered by certain collective bargaining and meet and confer agreements; and (2) require that a change made to the TMRS benefits through certain collective bargaining or meet and confer agreements can only apply to those employees covered by the agreement. 

H.B. 2685 (Lucio) – DWI:  would: (1) prohibit a city or city officer, employee, or department from adopting a policy that prohibits or impedes the enforcement of driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws; (2) prohibit a city from receiving state grant funds for a certain amount of time if the city adopts a rule, order, ordinance, or policy that prohibits or impedes the enforcement of DWI laws; and (3) authorize the attorney general to take certain legal action against a city that violates (1), above. 

H.B. 2686 (Lucio) – Uninsured Motor Vehicle:  would: (1) require a peace officer to impound the vehicle of a person who operates a vehicle without insurance and is involved in an accident; (2) require notice of impoundment under (1), above, to the registered owner and lienholder; and (3) provide for the return of the vehicle in (1), above, to the owner or lienholder under certain circumstances or, alternatively, disposition of the vehicle by law enforcement.

H.B. 2687 (Lucio) – County Noise Regulation:  would authorize a county to regulate noise in the unincorporated areas of the county.   

H.B. 2690 (Deshotel) – Sale of Real Property: would provide that a political subdivision may – without bidding or auctioning – donate or sell for less than fair market value a designated parcel of land or an interest in real property to another political subdivision if: (1) the land or interest will be used by the political subdivision to which it is donated or sold in carrying out a purpose that benefits the public interest of the donating or selling political subdivision; (2) the donation or sale of the land or interest is made under terms that effect and maintain the public purpose for which the donation or sale is made; and (3) the title and right to possession of the land or interest revert to the donating or selling political subdivision if the acquiring political subdivision ceases to use the land or interest in carrying out the public purpose.

H.B. 2693 (Deshotel) – Manufactured Housing: would transfer regulation of manufactured housing from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

H.B. 2694 (W. Smith) – TCEQ:  this is the TCEQ sunset bill.  The bill would, among other things: (1) require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to develop and implement a policy to encourage the use of negotiated rulemaking and alternative dispute resolution procedures; (2) require the TCEQ to develop and implement a program to improve public access to information about the TCEQ and the matters the agency regulates; (3) make changes to narrow the scope of the mission of the office of public interest council; (4) authorize the TCEQ to consider additional factors when reviewing compliance history; (5) increase the penalties for statute and rule violations under the jurisdiction of the TCEQ, including increasing minimum daily fines; (6) authorize the TCEQ to approve a city’s supplemental environmental project in lieu of a fine that is necessary to bring the city into compliance with environmental laws or remediate environmental harm caused by the city’s alleged violation; (7) require the TCEQ to develop a policy to prevent a regulated entity from systematically avoiding compliance through the use of supplemental environmental projects; (8) make changes to the fees, penalties, and authorized TCEQ action for underground storage tanks; (9) require any water right holder who impounds, diverts, or otherwise uses state water to maintain water use information on a monthly basis to be made available to the TCEQ during an emergency water shortage, upon request; and (10) authorize the TCEQ to order suspension and reallocation of water rights during a drought or other emergency water shortage.  (Companion is S.B. 657 by Huffman.)

H.B. 2696 (Eiland) – Property Tax:  would provide that a replacement structure for a structure that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by casualty or by wind or water damage is not considered to be a new improvement for property tax purposes if a building code, fire code, local ordinance, or government assistance program requires: (1) the square footage of the replacement structure to exceed that of the replaced structure; or (2) the exterior of the replacement structure be of higher quality construction and composition than that of the replaced structure.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1205 by Jackson.)

H.B. 2702 (Solomons) – Population Classifications: would update the hundreds of provisions in state law that brackets certain legislation to cities of a certain population.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1246 by Eltife.)

H.B. 2707 (Burnam) – Alcoholic Beverage License:  would prohibit the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission from issuing or renewing a permit for on-premises consumption to a person with a financial interest in the permit or the premises who, within the three preceding years, held a license or permit that was canceled or not renewed because of a shooting, stabbing, or other violent act or an offense involving drugs, prostitution, or human trafficking.

H.B. 2713 (Thompson) – Loans:  would allow refinancing of loans made with disaster recovery funds, including a government loan, if the new loan has a lower interest rate, fees, and points than the refinanced loan. (Companion bill is S.B. 1391 by Gallegos.)

H.B. 2714 (Thompson) – Affordable Housing: would allow a participant in a federal housing tenant-based assistance program to seek judicial review of a decision by a housing authority to terminate the tenant-based assistance.  (Companion bill is S.B. 925 by Ellis.)

H.B. 2719 (Harper-Brown) – Sales Tax:  would provide that a dealer, distributor, supervisor, or employer may not be regarded as a retailer or seller for sales tax purposes if the entity, directly or indirectly, only maintains, occupies, operates, or uses a fulfillment center or a computer server. 

H.B. 2729 (Callegari) – Procurement: would provide that: (1) a city may contract with a private entity to act as the city’s agent in the design, development, financing, maintenance, operation, or construction, including oversight and inspection, of a facility (any improvement to real property) or civil works project; and (2) a city entering into such a contract shall select a private entity on the basis of the entity’s qualifications and experience and  enter into a project development agreement with the entity. (Companion bill is S.B. 1654 by Watson.)

H.B. 2731 (Truitt) – Public Retirement Systems:  would: (1) prohibit a public retirement system, including the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS), from reducing the rate of member or employer contributions, provide a cost-of-living adjustment, or otherwise increasing retirement benefits, unless the system can show it is funded as required by the bill; (2) limit the calculation of a  retirement benefit of a member of a public retirement system, including TMRS, to 125 percent of a period five years from the period that is used to calculate the benefits; (3) allow the pension review board or the attorney general to review complaints against a person who provides management or investment services to a public retirement system, including TMRS and other city systems; (4) require TMRS to receive pension board approval before entering into a contract with an investment managers or other contracts;  (5) provide for ethical and conflict of interest requirements for members of the governing body of a public retirement system, including TMRS; and (6) change the way the assets and liabilities of a public retirement system, including TMRS, are made.

H.B. 2732 (Oliveira) – Permit Vesting:  would provide that, for purposes of the permit vesting statute, “fair notice” means the minimum amount of information necessary to enable a reasonably prudent person to understand the general nature and objective of a project.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1442 by Shapiro.)

H.B. 2733 (Madden) – Animal Control:  would expand the drugs an animal control officer or other appropriate official may use to euthanize an animal.

H.B. 2737 (N. Gonzalez) – Public Housing:  would: (1) allow a criminal justice agency to disclose certain criminal history record information (CHRI) to a housing authority; (2) provide that a person who employs individuals to work at a residential dwelling project may: (a) obtain from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) the employee’s CHRI; and (b) request the employee to disclose the employee’s CHRI and, with authorization from the employee, verify that information with DPS; and (3) authorize DPS to adopt rules requiring an affidavit from the employer with a statement from the employee authorizing the employer to obtain the CHRI.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1553 by Rodriguez.)

H.B. 2738 (N. Gonzalez) – Public Housing: would: (1) allow a criminal justice agency to disclose certain criminal history record information (CHRI) to a housing authority or housing project; and (2) provide that a housing authority is entitled to obtain CHRI from the Department of Public Safety relating to a person who is a tenant, an applicant for housing, or a “covered person.”

H.B. 2746 (Martinez Fischer) – Property Tax:  would provide that real property transferred to a charitable organization for the improvement of the property for low-income housing is not subject to an additional tax for the change of the use of the property if the new use of the property would otherwise be exempt from property taxes. 

H.B. 2754 (Martinez Fischer) – Legislative Testimony:  would require the Texas Legislative Council to provide certain means by which a person can submit electronic testimony regarding a bill or resolution that is pending before a committee or subcommittee of the Senate or House of Representatives.

H.B. 2756 (Lavender) – Carrying of Handguns: would authorize any person who is licensed to openly carry a handgun.

H.B. 2760 (Garza) – Sales Tax:  would, among other provisions: (1) authorize a quarter-cent sales tax to be imposed by election to fund species-protection programs in certain parts of the Edwards Aquifer, Guadalupe River Basin, San Antonio River Basin, and San Antonio Bay and estuary system; (2) designate the Edwards, Guadalupe-Blanco, and San Antonio River Authorities as the taxing authorities; and (3) exempt the tax from the two-cent sales tax cap within a city’s limits.  (Companion is S.B. 1595 by Wentworth.)

H.B. 2763 (Farrar) – Solid Waste:  would prohibit the Department of Public Safety from denying the renewal of a driver’s license because of an underlying offense related to a local solid waste or heavy trash requirement.

H.B. 2774 (Bohac) – Property Tax:  would allow the city council of a city in Harris County to reduce the property tax appraisal cap on homesteads from ten percent to five percent.

H.B. 2778 (Bohac) – Water Utility Rates:  would require a city that is the regulatory authority for a non-municipally-owned water and sewer utility’s rates or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to set a ratemaking hearing if at least ten percent of the ratepayers living in the same subdivision or zip code submit a complaint about the proposed rate change.

H.B. 2780 (Bohac) – Burglary of a Vehicle:  would provide, with regard to the offense of burglary of a vehicle, that: (1) the offense is a state jail felony if the defendant has previously been convicted of that same offense or the vehicle broken into is a rail car; (2) the amount of community service work ordered by the judge may not exceed 600 hours; and (3) provisions providing for the minimum period of community supervision for an offense punishable as a misdemeanor are repealed.  (Companion bill is S.B. 203 by Huffman.)

H.B. 2782 (Callegari) – Sales Tax:  would exempt certain firearms, hunting equipment, ammunition, and related accessories from sales taxes if the sale takes place over the second weekend in October.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1411 by Hegar.) 

H.B. 2798 (Bonnen) – Electric Discounts:  would, among other things, provide that a municipally owned electric utility shall discount charges for electric service provided to a school district that is a 20-percent reduction of the utility’s base rates.

H.B. 2803 (Raymond) – Colonias: would: (1) provide that the secretary of state shall establish and maintain a statewide system for identifying colonias that must include a method for a city or county to nominate an area for identification as a colonia and may provide for the review of a nominated area by the Texas Water Development Board, the office of the attorney general, or any other appropriate state agency as determined by the secretary of state; (2) to augment regulatory compliance by political subdivisions, provide that the model subdivision rules may impose requirements for platting, replatting, or any other method authorized by law; (3) notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a political subdivision that has adopted the model rules may impose the platting requirements of Local Government Code Chapter 212 (city platting authority) or 232 (county platting authority) to a division of real property that is required to be platted or replatted by the provisions of the model rules; and (4) before an application for certain funding may be considered by the Water Development Board, if the applicant is located: (a)  in a city, the city must adopt and enforce the model subdivision rules; (b) in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city, the applicant must demonstrate that the model subdivision rules have been adopted and are enforced in the extraterritorial jurisdiction by either the city or the county; or (c) outside the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city, the county must adopt and enforce the model subdivision rules. (Companion bill is S.B. 1816 by Zaffirini.)

H.B. 2810 (S. Miller) – Sales Tax:  would exempt from sales taxes tangible personal property incorporated into a commercial dairy-free stall barn, commercial dairy structures, or commodity structures used to process feed for dairy cows.

H.B. 2811 (Coleman) – Drugs:  would allow a city or county to prohibit the sale of any abusable drug or chemical so long as the drug is not approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

H.B. 2813 (Christian) – Sales Tax:  would require the comptroller to provide notice to a person who the comptroller considers to be a retailer or seller for sales tax purposes. 

H.B. 2815 (L. Taylor) – Prop 2:  would exempt from property taxes an energy storage system or technology used as a facility, device, or method for the control of air pollution. 

H.B. 2817 (L. Taylor) – Elections:  would, among other things: (1) eliminate the current provision in state law that requires the secretary of state to either prescribe the terms that a county elections administrator must accept, or instruct the county elections administrator to decline to enter into a contract with a city, if a city and county are unable to initially reach an agreement to furnish election services; (2) provide that an election watcher may not be accepted for service if the watcher has possession of a device capable of recording images or sound unless the watcher agrees to disable or deactivate the device; (3) provide that the custodian of keys to early voting ballot boxes must retain possession of the keys until delivered to the presiding judge of the central counting station; (4) require that a plan for counting votes cast on an electronic voting system include a process for comparing the number of voters who signed the combination form with the number of votes cast for the entire election; (5) require a city to post notice of dates of the filing period for an application for a place on the ballot not later than the 30th day before: (a) the first day on which a candidate may file an application; or (b) the last day on which a candidate may file the application, if the election code does not designate a first day on which the candidate may file the application: (6) provide that a withdrawal from an election that is not made in writing and signed by the candidate, or is not timely filed with the appropriate authority or agent of an authority, has no legal effect and is not considered filed; and (7) require a notice relating to a local option liquor election that is published in a newspaper to include: (a) the individual or entity that is applying for the petition to gather signatures for a local option liquor election; (b) the type of local option liquor election; (c) the name of the political subdivision in which the petition will be circulated; and (d) the name and title of the person with whom the application will be filed.  (Companion bill is S.B. 849 by Duncan.) 

H.B. 2823 (Coleman) – Peace Officer Training:  would require a peace officer to complete eight hours of training on ethical decision making every two years.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1676 by Ellis.)

H.B. 2826 (Murphy) – Municipal Setting Designations:  would, among other provisions:  (1) require a city with a population of more than two million to give notice and 120 days to pass a resolution in opposition to a municipal settings designation (MSD) to any city or public utility within a certain distance from the proposed MSD; and (2) require that no resolution has been filed in opposition for the MSD to be issued.

H.B. 2833 (White) – Working Dogs:  would exempt working dogs, including those used for police, therapy, or livestock handling, from any ordinance or law regulating:  (1) spaying or neutering; (2) number of pets in households; (3) housing of dogs; (4) insurance requirements; or (5) breed restrictions. 

H.B. 2849 (Simpson) – Mineral Estates: would grant considerable new rights to an owner of the surface estate in land in connection with mineral exploration and production operations on the land.

H.B. 2850 (Mallory Caraway) – Law Enforcement Vehicles:  would prohibit a city from selling or transferring a marked patrol car or other law enforcement vehicle to the public unless the city first removes any equipment or insignia that could mislead a reasonable person into believing the vehicle is a law enforcement vehicle.

H.B. 2852 (Mallory Carraway) – Red Light Cameras: would provide that: (1) a city shall install a sign at each intersection at which a photographic traffic monitoring system is in active use and at which turning right is permissible; and (2) the sign must indicate the location at which the operator of the vehicle must stop the vehicle when facing a steady red signal.

H.B. 2853 (J. Davis) – Tax Increment Financing:  among other things, would: (1) repeal the requirement that a city adopting a reinvestment zone financing plan mail a copy of the plan to the governing body of each taxing unit that levies taxes in the proposed zone; (2) allow a city to designate a reinvestment zone so long as: (a) less than 30 percent of the property in the proposed zone is used for residential purposes; or (b) the total appraised value of taxable real property in the proposed zone and in existing zones is less than 25 percent of the total appraised value for a city with a population of 100,000 or more, or 50 percent of the total appraised value for a city with a population of less than 100,000; (3) allow a city council that designated a reinvestment zone by ordinance or resolution to adopt an ordinance or resolution extending the term of all or a portion of the zone after notice and a hearing; (4) authorize a city council to appoint a reinvestment board of directors consisting of nine members if fewer than seven taxing units other than the city are eligible to appoint members of the board of directors; (5) provide that if at least seven taxing units other than the city are eligible to appoint members of the reinvestment zone’s board of directors, then the city creating the zone may appoint only one member; (6) allow an agreement to specify the projects to which a participating taxing unit’s tax increment will be dedicated and that the taxing unit’s participation may be computed with respect to a base year later than the original base year of the zone; and (7) provide that an act or proceeding of a city, a reinvestment zone board, or other entity acting pursuant to a reinvestment zone financing plan is conclusively presumed valid after two years have passed and a lawsuit to annul or invalidate the act or proceeding has not been filed.

H.B. 2856 (Gallego) – Felony Forfeiture: would: (1) prohibit prosecutors from executing a plea bargain agreement that would waive a person’s interest in property seized under the felony forfeiture laws; (2) provide that post-judgment interest on money seized under the felony forfeiture laws shall be used for the same purposes as the principal; (3) prohibit the use of felony forfeiture funds for: (a) political campaigns; (b) donations to certain organizations that do not assist in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime or provide rehabilitation services; (c) judicial training; (d) certain travel expenses; (e) alcoholic beverages; (f) any expenditure not approved by the city council if the law enforcement agency head holds elective office and is not running for reelection or did not prevail in a reelection bid; or (g) a salary, expense, or allowance increase for an employee of the law enforcement agency that was not approved by the city council; (3) require more detailed local audits of the expenditure of felony forfeiture funds; (4) permit the state auditor to investigate at any time the expenditure of felony forfeiture funds; (5) permit the attorney general to sue a law enforcement agency or prosecutor who misuses felony forfeiture funds; and (6) permit up to a $100,000 civil fine for misuse of felony forfeiture funds. (Companion bill is S.B. 316 by Whitmire.)

H.B. 2860 (Y. Davis) – Public Improvement Districts:  would provide that: (1) a city may establish a public improvement district in noncontiguous areas if the areas share a common characteristic or use; (2) a petition for the establishment of a public improvement district must state the proposed assessment schedule, the appraised value of taxable real property that is liable for assessment, and an estimate of property value appreciation for real property in the district for the period after the district is created and before the deferred assessment will be assessed; (3) if a proposed assessment schedule in a petition includes a deferred assessment, a city council must use the services of city employees before the hearing to estimate the appraised value of taxable real property liable for assessment in the district and the cost of improvement; and (4) the cost of an improvement may be assessed as a percentage of sales or receipts, or as a percentage of increased property value attributable to the improvement. 

H.B. 2866 (Harper-Brown) – Public Information:  would: (1) allow open records letter ruling requests to be filed electronically with the attorney general’s office; and (2) allow notices, decisions, and other public information documents to be transmitted electronically by the attorney general’s office.  (Companion bill is S.B. 933 by Ellis).

H.B. 2871 (Aliseda) – Tire Disposal:  would require a person who sells new or used motor vehicle tires to collect at the time of sale a tire disposal fee to be used only for the purpose of properly disposing of or recycling used or scrap tires.

H.B. 2874 (Geren) – Telecommunications: would provide that: (1) a city may not by rule, order, or other means directly or indirectly regulate rates charged for, service or contract terms for, conditions for, or requirements for entry into the market for Voice over Internet Protocol services or other Internet Protocol enabled services; and (2) the limitation in (1) does not: (a) affect payment of municipal right-of-way fees applicable to Voice over Internet Protocol services; (b) affect any person’s obligation to provide video service as defined by S.B. 5 (2005)(the state video franchise bill) under any applicable state or federal law; or (c) require or prohibit assessment of enhanced 9-1-1, relay access service, or universal service fund fees on Voice over Internet Protocol service.  (Companion bill is S.B. 985 by Carona.)

H.B. 2875 (S. Davis) – Elections:  would: (1) provide that a voter who presents a voter registration certificate indicating that the voter is registered in a different precinct in the same county in the precinct in which the voter is offering to vote, or a voter who does not present a voter registration certificate, shall be accepted for provisional voting only if the voter executes an affidavit; (2) require an election officer to enter the voter’s registration number beside the voter’s name on the poll list, if applicable; (3) require an election officer to indicate beside the voter’s name on the poll list that the voter was accepted for provisional voting and enter the voter’s address; and (4) require a copy of the poll list to be included in Envelope No. 4.

H.B. 2878 (Berman) – Immigration:  would:  (1) make a person liable to the state for actual damages for employing or contracting with an unauthorized alien; (2) authorize a private individual to sue on behalf of the State of Texas for a violation of (1), above (a “qui tam lawsuit”); (3) identify as contraband and require forfeiture of certain property in relation to certain criminal offenses involving unauthorized aliens; (4) create the felony offense of criminal trespass by an unauthorized alien; and (5) create the felony offense of employing or contracting with an unauthorized alien.

H.B. 2879 (P. King) – Texas Historical Commission:  would abolish the Texas Historical Commission and transfer its duties to the Parks and Wildlife Commission, the General Land Office, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

H.B. 2885 (Workman) – Liquid Propane Tanks:  would prohibit a city from enacting or enforcing an ordinance that prohibits, restricts, or has the effect of prohibiting or restricting a property owner from installing a liquid propane gas tank of a reasonable size to service the property above ground on residential property, except that a city may require the owner to screen the tank from view with reasonable screening materials.

H.B. 2886 (Workman) – Immigration:  would: (1) create a resident alien card program for undocumented immigrants; (2) require an employer, including a city, who employs someone with a resident alien card to: (a) deduct a state tax equal to the federal income tax from the individual’s wages; and (b) provide the same benefits to the individual as other employees; (3) give an employer, including a city, an affirmative defense from federal prosecution for hiring an undocumented immigrant if the employee has a  resident alien card; (4) require a city to give preference to a lawful resident over a resident alien card holder; (5) create a fine of $10,000 for hiring an undocumented immigrant who does not have a resident alien card; and (6) give the taxes collected to local governments, including cities, which provide services to resident aliens. 

H.B. 2888 (Munoz) – Certificates of Convenience and Necessity (CCNs):  would:  (1) expand the situations in which a landowner would be able to petition the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for release from a CCN; (2) remove a landowner in a platted subdivision receiving water or sewer service from a rural water supply corporation that has federal debt from the group of landowners entitled to contest an involuntary certification of property; and (3) authorize a landowner whose property is within city limits and is receiving water or sewer service from a rural water supply corporation that has federal debt and has refused or is not capable of providing service in the same manner that the city would be required to if it held the certificate to the property to petition for expedited release from a CCN.

H.B. 2889 (Madden) – Expunction of Arrest Records:  would require a police department to expunge all records of the arrest of a person when the office of the attorney who is authorized to prosecute the offense for which the person was arrested declines to prosecute and does not object to the court entering an order of expunction.  (Companion is S.B. 1473 by Hinojosa.)

H.B. 2891 (Sheets) – Elections:  would require the early voting clerk to include a disposable fingerprint inked strip and instructions for use with balloting materials that are mailed to a voter. 

H.B. 2895 (D. Miller) – Water Ratemaking:  would: (1) authorize a city council that is the regulatory authority for water rates for a non-city-owned utility within city limits to authorize reduced rates for a minimal level of service to be provided to a class or classes of low-income or elderly customers; and (2) require a city acting as a regulatory authority for water rates to allow the utility in question to choose whether to have a forward-looking or historical test year used as part of the calculation of the utility’s expenses during a ratemaking determination.

H.B. 2896 (T. King) – Peace Officer: would require a peace officer to remain at the location of a damaged fence if: (1) the officer responds to a car accident that damages the fence; and (2) the officer believes that the fenced area contains livestock.

H.B. 2897 (Naishtat) – Driver Education Courses:  would: (1) create requirements for a driver education course specifically for individuals under twenty-five years of age; and (2) require that a driver under the age of twenty-five who commits a moving violation and receives a deferred adjudication or deferred disposition complete a driver education course for drivers under the age of twenty-five.  (Companion is S.B. 1330 by Watson.)

H.B. 2901 (D. Miller) – Property Tax:  would provide that a transferee holding a tax lien assumes the lien priority of the taxing unit for funds advanced to pay taxes, penalties, interest, and collection costs. 

H.B. 2920 (Reynolds) – Elections:  would provide that the city council of a type C general law city with a population of over 10,000 may adopt an ordinance to determine if commissioners may be elected in alternate years or in the same election year. 

H.B. 2925 (Farias) – Consumer Credit:  would require a creditor that extends consumer credit to certain members of the United States armed forces or a member of the Texas National Guard and their dependents give those persons the same benefits and protections that the creditor is required to apply to persons covered under the federal John Warner National Defense Authorization Act.

H.B. 2927 (Farias) – Property Tax:  would: (1) provide that, for a property that qualifies for a residence homestead exemption that was acquired by a property owner as a bona fide purchaser in the preceding year, the appraised value of the property for the first tax year may not exceed the lesser of: (a) the market value of the property; (b) the appraised value of the property; or (c) an amount equal to the sum of the purchase price paid by the owner and the market value of all new improvements to the property; (2) limit re-appraisals of residential homesteads to no more often than once every three years; and (3) prevent taxable value increases in years in which homesteads are not re-appraised. 

H.B. 2934 (Castro) – Texas Municipal Retirement System:  would give the members of the Texas Municipal Retirement System another option when calculating possible increases in annuities or supplemental benefits given to retirees and beneficiaries of deceased retirees. (Companion bill is S.B. 1164 by Wentworth).

H.B. 2943 (Coleman) – Debt Instruments:  would require a city to report all proposed bond initiatives and debt to the Bond Review Board, but only if the legislature appropriates state money for the payment or reimbursement of costs incurred by the city in complying with the mandate.  

H.B. 2944 (Coleman) – Debt Instruments:  would require the Bond Review Board to establish on its Web site a database of outstanding bonds and other debt obligations issued by each local government.  

H.B. 2946 (Coleman) – Mandatory Health Benefit:  would require coverage for care and treatment of loss of language or impairment of speech.

H.B. 2949 (Cook) – Municipal Court:  would repeal the penalty prohibiting a city from withholding its ten percent of many state court fines if the city is not in compliance with state fee reporting and remitting rules.

H.B. 2952 (Cain) – Property Tax:  would provide that a city council may not adopt a budget that exceeds the revenue adopted in the previous year by the lesser of: (1) the growth in the state’s gross state product; or (2) population growth in the local government plus inflation.  The bill would allow the voters in a city to nullify a limitation on the growth of the budget as provided by the bill if a majority of the voters in the city vote in a referendum election in favor of nullification. 

H.B. 2957 (J. Davis) – Law Enforcement:  would adopt the Law Enforcement Officers’ Due Process Act, which includes provisions that: (1) limit the way in which a city may conduct a disciplinary investigation or question an officer; (2) limit the times and places that a peace officer may be questioned; (3) give the right to counsel to a peace officer under investigation or questioning; (4) give the right to access to documents related to the investigation to peace officers; (5) require the employing city to give a notice of investigation or questioning within a specific period of time; (6) provide for hearing procedures for peace officer investigations and the resulting employment action;  (7) require a written or taped record of any proceedings; and (7) prohibit peace officers from engaging in political activity while the officer is on duty, in uniform, or acting in an official capacity.

H.B. 2958 (Paxton) – Property Tax:  would provide that: (1) if changes in the items subject to sales tax would result in an average increase in the amount of sales tax revenue received by a city, the effective tax rate and rollback tax rate of a city that also imposes a sales tax are reduced by a rate that would impose an amount of taxes equal to the amount of revenue gained because of the changes; and (2) if changes in the items subject to sales tax would result in an average decrease in the amount of sales tax revenue received by a city, the effective tax rate and rollback tax rate of a city that also imposes a sales tax are increased by a rate that would impose an amount of taxes equal to the amount of revenue lost because of the changes.

H.B. 2961 (Darby) – Solar Energy: would apply to a municipally owned electric utility (MOU) with retail sales of more than 500,000 megawatt hours in 2009 and provide – among many other things – that, beginning not later than March 1, 2012, an MOU shall annually report to the Public Utility Commission information regarding the efforts of the MOU with regard to its efforts to promote solar energy generation incentive programs goals. 

H.B. 2962 (Bohac) – Certificates of Convenience and Necessity:  would (1) create a process allowing sixty percent of the customers in a geographic area to file a petition with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to be released from a certificated area; and (2) make the decision final, unappealable, and not subject to judicial review.

H.B. 2966 (Naishtat) – Public Information:  would make confidential any communication or record that contains identifying information regarding a person who receives a forensic medical examination that is created by, provided to, or in the control of the Department of Public Safety in reference to certain sexual assault survivors.  

H.B. 2972 (T. Smith) – Street Maintenance Sales Tax:  would: (1) allow a city that has already held two reauthorization elections in which at least 66 percent of the voters in the last two consecutive elections approved of the tax to call an election to reauthorize the tax for eight years; and (2) allow revenue from the street maintenance sales tax to be used to maintain and repair sidewalks. 

H.B. 2973 (Hunter) – Litigation:  would:  (1) provide for the dismissal of a lawsuit if shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the legal action is based on, relates to, or is in response to the exercise of the defendant’s right of free speech, right to petition, or right of association; (2) prohibit dismissal as described in (1), above, if the party bringing the action establishes by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim; (3) require a court, if dismissal is ordered as described in (1), above, to award court costs, attorney’s fees, and expenses, and impose sanctions against the person and attorney who brought the legal action; (4) require a court, if a motion under (1), above, is found to be frivolous, to award court costs and attorney’s fees to the responding party; and (5) exempt from the application of this bill: (a) an enforcement action brought by a city; and (b) certain legal action brought against a person who sells or leases goods or services.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1565 by Ellis.)

H.B. 2974 (Hunter) – Litigation: would: (1) allow a party to a lawsuit to file a motion to dismiss if the lawsuit relates to the party’s exercise of the right of free speech, right to petition, or right of association; and (2) award attorney’s fees and expenses to the party if the lawsuit is dismissed based on the motion. 

H.B. 2977 (Hunter) – Open Meetings:  would provide that a member or group of members of a governmental body commits an offense if the member or group of members knowingly: (1) conspires to circumvent the Open Meetings Act by meeting in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations in violation of the Act; or (2) transmits an electronic communication during a public meeting.   The bill defines an “electronic communication” as an e-mail, text message, instant message, or posting on an Internet Web site, and does not apply to an electronic communication that contains only administrative or ministerial information or that is sent in relation to an emergency situation.

H.B. 2980 (Hunter) – Public Information:  would require a court to consider, when assessing costs of litigation and reasonable attorney’s fees for a suit brought by a governmental body seeking declaratory relief from an open records letter ruling issued by the attorney general, whether the conduct of the governmental body had a reasonable basis in law or whether the litigation was brought in good faith.

H.B. 2981 (Hunter) – Traffic Safety:  would provide that, with some exceptions, a person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle on a highway or street and another person occupies a boat or personal watercraft being drawn by the motor vehicle.

H.B. 2986 (Parker) – Union Political Expenditures:  would: (1) require a union to: (a) segregate any funds to be used for political expenditures, including expenditures for lobbying, political advertising, and other political activities; (b) ensure that any contribution to a political fund is voluntary; (c) ensure that no union dues are used for political expenditures; and (d) maintain records showing that the union has not engaged in any prohibited practices; (2) prohibit a public employer, including a city, from deducting from wages any amount for certain political expenditures including for a union fund created for political expenditures; and (3) allow a public employer, including a city, to deduct from wages for certain political expenditures if the employer receives written authorization with specific language.

H.B. 2989 (Deshotel) – Construction Employees:  would: (1) require any person who contracts for construction services, including a city, to ensure that each individual is classified correctly as either an employee or an independent contractor; (2) provide an administrative penalty if an individual is incorrectly classified; (3) require a contract between a city and a construction contractor to include an affidavit that each individual performing services under the construction contract has been correctly classified as either an employee or independent contractor; and (4) allow a city to rescind a contract if the city finds that the contractor has incorrectly classified its workers. 

H.B. 2994 (Miles) – Urban Farming:  would provide for the creation, operation, and funding of the urban farm microenterprise support program by the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority.

H.B. 2995 (Miles) – Wastewater Fees:  would prohibit a city-owned water or sewer utility from receiving compensation for wastewater service provided to an owner or operator of an urban farm when the wastewater is used for farming purposes.

H.B. 2996 (Miles) – Urban Farming:  would provide for the creation of the Texas Urban Agricultural Innovation Authority and, among other things, implement an urban farmer interest rate reduction program and an urban farmer grant program for certain individuals in cities with a population of at least 1.5 million.

H.B. 2997 (Miles) – Urban Farming: would require the Texas Department of Agriculture to establish the urban farming pilot program and would create the Select Committee on Urban Farming to study the program, urban farming trends, and various related topics.

H.B. 2998 (Miles) – Property Tax:  would require the Department of Agriculture to develop standards for determining whether: (1) an urban farm qualifies for a property tax appraisal as open-space land; (2) an urban farm or green roof qualifies for a property tax credit; or (3) an urban farm or green roof qualifies for an abatement of property taxes.

H.B. 3001 (Thompson) – Sex Offenders:  would, among several other provisions: (1) require a city police department designated as the primary registration authority for certain sex offenders to use a required m