SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTIONS

H.B. 8 (Otto), changing the frequency of the comptroller’s property value study of each appraisal district from annually to biennially and providing for biennial review of appraisal district methodologies. Reported from the House Ways and Means Committee.

H.B. 77 (Flynn), permitting city depository banks to pool collateral for deposit amounts in excess of FDIC insurance, giving cities and banks the option to participate in the program, requiring 102-percent collateralization, requiring state comptroller oversight of pooled collateral, and requiring third-party safekeeping of collateral in most cases. Reported from the House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Committee.

H.B. 554 (Menendez), relating to the adoption of building codes. Reported from the House Urban Affairs Committee. As reported, this bill applies only to cities over 100,000 in population. It would require a city to either: (1) have an advisory board to provide input on the city’s adoption of model codes, or (2) provide enhanced notice of and public comment on the adoption of model codes. The bill would also generally require a city to delay implementation and enforcement of a code provision for 30 days following its adoption. City officials in cities over 100,000 in population should become familiar with this bill. (Companion bill is S.B. 820 by Duncan, which has passed the Senate.)

H.B. 774 (T. Smith), relating to the protest and approval of zoning changes. Reported from the House Land and Resource Management Committee.

H.B. 917 (Dutton), limiting the authority of a peace officer to conduct a search of a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation. Reported from the House Public Safety Committee. (Note: police chiefs should review this bill thoroughly.)

H.B. 1047 (Deshotel), providing that: (1) the state highway fund may no longer be used to finance the Texas Department of Public Safety; and (2) money in the state highway fund or loans from the state infrastructure bank may be used only to improve the state highway system. (Note: please see H.J.R. 54, below.) Reported from the House Transportation Committee.

H.B. 1424 (Leibowitz), relating to annexation. Reported from the House Land and Resource Management Committee. As reported, this bill would: (1) provide that a petition for disannexation for failure to provide services may be submitted by a number of voters in an annexed area that equals more than 50 percent of the number of voters of the area who voted in the most recent municipal election; (2) require the city council to certify whether such a petition is valid; (3) provide that if the petition is certified as valid, the city shall disannex the area within 60 days after the date the petition is certified, unless within that period the city brings a cause of action in a district court to request that the area remain annexed; and (4) provide that the district court shall enter an order disannexing the area if the court finds that a valid petition was filed, unless the court finds the city performed its obligations in accordance with the service plan and state law.

H.B. 2532 (Bonnen), relating to information regarding the location of infrastructure. Reported from the House Defense and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. As reported, this bill would require each city to provide the State Division of Emergency Planning with the location of infrastructure within the city that is critical to public health and safety and that requires electricity to respond to a disaster or emergency.

H.B. 2555 (Hilderbran), extending from three years to five years the period of time for which a property may be exempted from the property tax as low-income housing. Reported from the House Ways and Means Committee.

H.B. 3454 (Otto), relating to property tax appraisals. Reported from the House Ways and Means Committee. As reported, this bill would: (1) provide that “all available evidence” relating to the value of property must be taken into account in appraising property; and (2) enumerate detailed conditions regarding the consideration of comparable sales, including a requirement that a comparable sale must have been completed within 24 months of the date of the appraisal.

H.B. 3613 (Otto), requiring that an appraisal of a residence homestead be based on its use as a residence only, regardless of the “highest and best use” of the property. (Note: please see H.J.R. 36, below.) Reported from the House Ways and Means Committee.

H.J.R. 36 (Otto), proposing to amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to provide that appraisals of residential homesteads shall be limited to the highest possible appraised value when used only as a homestead. (Note: current law can permit appraisal at the level of “highest and best use” of the property, which might include uses other than residential.) (Note: please see H.B. 3613, above.) Reported from the House Ways and Means Committee.

H.J.R. 54 (Deshotel), proposing to amend the Texas Constitution to provide that three-fourths of the net revenue from the motor fuel tax shall be used for the sole purpose of constructing and maintaining public highways, and one-fourth of the net revenue shall be allocated to school funding. (Note: please see H.B. 1047, above.) Reported from the House Transportation Committee.

S.B. 12 (Carona), relating to homeland security. Reported from the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security. As reported from committee, this bill would require that: (1) an elected city official take three hours of emergency management training provided by the state if the official has management or supervisory responsibilities; has a position description, job duties, or assignment that includes emergency management responsibilities; or plays a role in emergency preparedness, response, or recovery; (2) a city, upon request of the state Division of Emergency Management, shall conduct an evaluation of the city’s response to a disaster, identify areas for improvement, and issue a report of the evaluation to the division; and (3) the division shall create a phased reentry plan for disasters that recognizes the role of local emergency management directors and allows them to adjust the plan as needed.

S.B. 254 (Estes), exempting volunteer fire departments from state motor fuel taxes. Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 402 (Eltife), relating to property tax and sales tax. Reported from the Senate Finance Committee. As reported, this bill would authorize a new city sales tax for property tax relief with the following features: (1) the additional sales tax authorized by the bill would not count as part of the two-percent cap on the local sales tax rate; (2) both a city and the county may adopt the additional sales tax for property tax relief; (3) the rate of the sales tax is one-fourth of one percent; (4) the tax must be adopted by an election of the citizens; (5) such election of the citizens may only be called by the governing body of the city or county; (6) the governing body may call an election to abolish an already established additional sales tax for property tax relief; (7) revenue from the additional sales tax shall be used to reduce the property tax rate; and (8) a city or county that adopts the sales tax shall have its rollback property tax rate reduced from eight percent to five percent.

S.B. 552 (Hegar), providing that a local law enforcement agency is eligible for peace officer training funds only if it annually submits a detailed personnel training report to the state comptroller. Reported from the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. (Companion bill is H.B. 502 by England.)

S.B. 908 (Williams), relating to the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS). Reported from the Senate State Affairs Committee and recommended for the Local/Uncontested Calendar. As reported, this bill 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. (The companion bill – H.B. 360 by Kuempel – has been reported from a House committee and recommended for the House Local and Consent Calendar.

S.B. 947 (Duncan), relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of certain tangible personal property stored temporarily at a location in this state. Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 1011 (Estes), continuing the existence of the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. Reported from the Senate Government Organization Committee. As reported, this bill would, among other things: (1) make it optional (rather than mandatory, as is current law) for the Texas Commission on Fire Protection to consult with the firefighter advisory committee; (2) encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution in adopting commission rules; (3) require that some commission fees be based on the amount designed to recover the commission’s costs, with no maximum fee listed; (4) require criminal background checks for individuals applying for certification by the commission; (5) change current law to allow the commission to enter a default order if a fire department does not respond to a violation notice within the commission deadlines; and (6) abolish the fire department emergency program which provides scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial assistance to eligible local fire departments. (Note: fire chiefs should study this bill thoroughly.)

S.B. 1203 (West), relating to the regulation of metal recycling entities. Reported from the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

S.B. 1320 (Wentworth), requiring a city to include an “information purposes” notice on geospatial data, such as maps for mapping services, that are created or hosted by the governmental entity and were not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted by or under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor. Reported from the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee. (City planning departments should review this bill.)

S.B. 1591 (Ogden), extending from three years to five years the length of time certain low-income housing may be exempted from the property tax. Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.B. 1741 (Carona), relating to emergency management. Reported from the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security. As reported from committee, this bill would require that: (1) an elected city official take three hours of emergency management training provided by the state if the official has management or supervisory responsibilities; has a position description, job duties, or assignment that includes emergency management responsibilities; or plays a role in emergency preparedness, response, or recovery; and (2) a city, upon request of the state Division of Emergency Management, shall conduct an evaluation of the city’s response to a disaster, identify areas for improvement, and issue a report of the evaluation to the division.

S.B. 1970 (Duncan), relating to certain election practices and procedures. Reported from the Senate State Affairs Committee. As reported, this bill would: (1) provide that a special election of a city is considered to be a separate election from a general election for city officers or another special election of the city held at the same time; (2) require a city to post a copy of the order declaring each unopposed candidate elected at each polling place that would have been used in an election; (3) require a city to print on each ballot for a separate election the names and offices of those candidates who were unopposed and declared elected for an election that was to be held at the same time; (4) allow a city that orders an election on a measure to declare the measure moot and remove it from the ballot if the city determines that the action to be authorized by the voters may not be taken regardless of the outcome of the election; (5) require the notice of a general or special election to state the location of each polling place, including each early voting polling place; (6) require that an insufficient number of ballots or a malfunction of electronic voting system equipment must be remedied through the use of emergency paper ballots when no other method of voting is available; (7) provide that for an election held on the uniform election date in May and any resulting runoff election, the period for early voting by personal appearance begins on the 12th day before election day and continues through the fourth day before election day; (8) require an election order to state the location of each early voting polling place; (9) require an early voting clerk to notify the voter registrar of a federal postcard application that states a voting residence address located outside the registrar’s county; (10) provide that a person who changes residence to another county may cast a vote during the early voting period if the person is registered to vote in the county of former residence at the time the person offers to vote in the new county; (11) allow a city to have a voting system technician present at a polling place, a meeting of the early voting ballot board, or a central counting station to maintain or operate voting system equipment; (12) require a city to post notice of the dates of the filing period for an application for a place on the ballot in a public place within the main city office building not later than the 30th day before the first day on which the application may be submitted; (13) require the recount deposit to be $60 for each precinct in which paper ballots are used, and $100 for each precinct where an electronic voting system is used; and (14) allow for joint elections only if elections are ordered by the authorities of two or more political subdivisions to be held on the same day in all or part of the same county.

S.J.R. 52 (Davis), proposing to amend the Texas Constitution to allow the legislature to authorize a county to levy a gasoline/diesel fuel tax, assess an additional vehicle registration fee, and use the revenue for mobility projects. Reported from the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee.

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