SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTIONS

H.B. 301 (Berman), Relating to the establishment of English as the official language of Texas and the requirement that official acts of government be performed in English.  Reported from the House Committee on State Affairs.

H.B. 345 (Kleinschmidt), Relating to limitations on awards in an adjudication brought against a local governmental entity for breach of contract. Reported from the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee.  As reported, the bill would modify the damages available under a breach of contract claim against a city to include interest as allowed by law, including interest as calculated according to the Prompt Payment Act.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1382 by Wentworth.)

H.B. 405 (Quintanilla), Relating to the storage, transportation, and disposal of tires; providing criminal penalties. Reported from the House Committee on Environmental Regulation.  As reported, the bill would, among several other provisions, state that a person may not store more than five hundred used or scrap tires for any period unless the person registers the site with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

H.B. 471 (C. Anderson), Relating to election through secret ballot of a labor union as the exclusive bargaining representative.  Reported from the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

H.B. 472 (C. Anderson), Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.  Reported from the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.B. 524 (F. Brown), Relating to a court order to disannex an area from a municipality.  Reported from the House Committee on Land and Resource Management.  As reported, the bill would make it easier for a landowner to require a city to disannex for failure to provide services.

H.B. 695 (Allen), Relating to the establishment of a program for the collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of mercury-added thermostats. Reported from the House Committee on Environmental Regulation.  As reported, the bill would: (1) create a program for collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of mercury-added thermostats as they are removed from buildings; and (2) require that, in order to avoid liability, an owner or operator of a solid waste treatment, processing, or disposal facility must post in a conspicuous location a sign stating that mercury-added thermostats are not accepted at the facility and must notify in writing at least once per calendar year until the end of 2014 each solid waste collector contracted to dispose of solid waste and inform them that mercury-added thermostats are not accepted at the facility.

H.B. 874 (C. Howard), Relating to the provision of information by tax officials related to ad valorem tax rates.  Reported from the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.B. 1240 (Zedler), Relating to the application of foreign and international laws and doctrines in this state.  Reported from the House Select Committee on State Sovereignty.

H.B. 1384 (Kleinschmidt), Relating to the eligibility of land for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land on the basis of its use for wildlife management.  Reported from the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.B. 1684 (Fletcher), Relating to the regulation of fireworks in areas annexed by a municipality for limited purposes. Reported from the House Committee on Urban Affairs.

H.B. 2291 (Callegari), Relating to government regulation of an individual's occupation. Reported from the House Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform.  As reported, the bill would provide that: (1) an individual may engage in an occupation not prohibited by law without being subject to administrative rules or government practices that regulate the occupation and that are substantially burdensome and unnecessary to fulfill the purpose and intent of the statute authorizing the regulation of the occupation; (2) the government may substantially burden an individual's right to engage in an occupation only if the government demonstrates that the burden is necessary to fulfill the purpose and intent of the statute authorizing the regulation of the occupation; and (3) for various administrative and judicial remedies to enforce the bill’s purposes.

H.B. 2672 (Dutton), Relating to safety measures for culverts or other similar flood or drainage systems maintained by governmental entities.  Reported from the House Committee on Urban Affairs.

H.B. 2679 (T. Smith), Relating to appeals regarding dangerous dogs.  Reported from the House Committee on County Affairs.

H.B. 2694 (W. Smith), Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  Reported from the Senate Natural Resources Committee.  This is the TCEQ sunset bill. As reported, 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) change how compliance history is used in certain enforcement situations; (5) increase the penalties and create a minimum fine amount for statute and rule violations under the jurisdiction of the TCEQ; (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; (10) 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 or in response to a complaint, upon request; and (9) authorize the TCEQ to order suspension and reallocation of water rights during a drought or other emergency water shortage and require recipients of a water transfer to comply with drought management measures.

H.B. 2852 (Mallory Caraway), Relating to requiring signs at intersections with photographic traffic monitoring systems and photographic traffic signal enforcement systems.  Reported from the House Committee on Urban Affairs.

H.B. 2896 (T. King), Relating to duties of law enforcement involving damaged fences and to compensation to property owners for property damage resulting from vehicular pursuit.  Reported from the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

H.B. 2957 (J. Davis), Relating to due process for certain law enforcement officers.  Reported from the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

H.B. 3105 (Keffer), Relating to the applicability of the Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act to certain governmental actions.  Reported from the House Committee on Energy Resources.  As reported, the bill would make a city regulation that damages, destroys, impairs, or prohibits development of a mineral interest subject to the Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act, which would: (1) waive sovereign immunity to suit and liability for a regulatory taking; (2) authorize a private real property owner to bring suit to determine whether the governmental action of a city results in a taking; (3) require a city to prepare a “takings impact assessment” prior to imposing certain regulations; and (4) require a city to post 30-days notice of the adoption of most regulations prior to adoption.

H.B. 3252 (Chisum), Relating to a prohibition against the knowing employment of unauthorized foreign nationals; providing administrative penalties.  Reported from the House Committee on State Affairs.

H.B. 3324 (McClendon), Relating to intelligence data standards and protected personal information.  Reported from the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

H.B. 3388 (Fletcher), Relating to the transport of fireworks within a municipality. Reported from the House Urban Affairs Committee.  As reported, the bill would prohibit a city from regulating the transport of fireworks that are unopened and in original packaging.

H.B. 3607 (Kuempel), Relating to construction managers-at-risk used by local governments.  Reported from the House Committee on Urban Affairs.

H.B. 3668 (Callegari), Relating to certificates of public convenience and necessity for water or sewer services.  Reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources.

H.J.R. 48 (C. Anderson), Authorizing legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation the homestead of the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran in an amount equal to amount of the homestead exemption to which disabled vet was entitled. Reported from the House Committee on Ways and Means.  (Companion bill is H.J.R. 52 by McClendon.)

S.B. 332 (Fraser):  Relating to the ownership of groundwater below the surface of land, the right to produce that groundwater, and the management of groundwater in this state.  Reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources.  As reported, the bill would: (1) recognize that a landowner owns the groundwater below the surface of the landowner’s land as real property, including entitling the landowner or his lessees, heirs, or assigns to drill for and produce the groundwater below the surface of real property, but without entitling a landowner or his lessees, heirs, or assigns, to the right to capture a specific amount of groundwater below the surface of the land or affecting the existence of common law defenses or other defenses to liability under the rule of capture; (2) clarify that a groundwater conservation district has the authority to enforce minimum well spacing or tract size requirements, regulate groundwater production as authorized by current state law, and that a district is not required to allocate by rule a proportionate share of groundwater to each landowner based on surface land ownership; and (3) require that, when creating rules governing water withdrawal, a groundwater conservation district consider the groundwater ownership and rights outlined in this bill, the public interest in conservation, preservation, protection, recharging, and prevention of waste of groundwater, and of groundwater reservoirs or their subdivisions, and in controlling subsidence caused by withdrawal of water from those groundwater reservoirs or their subdivisions, and the goals developed as part of the district’s comprehensive management plan.

S.B. 516 (Patrick), Relating to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran. Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.  (Companion bills are H.B. 95 by Fletcher, H.B. 313 by Pickett, and H.B. 781 by P. King.)

S.B. 555 (Watson), Relating to the regulation of LP-gas utility companies.  Reported from the Senate Natural Resources Committee. 

S.B. 875 (Fraser), Relating to compliance with state and federal environmental permits.  Reported from the House Committee on Environmental Regulation. 

S.B. 1309 (Hinojosa), Relating to rate adjustments by gas utilities.  Reported from the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. 

S.B. 1771 (Williams), Relating to the provision of information by tax officials related to ad valorem tax rates. Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.  (Companion bill is H.B. 874 by C. Howard.)

S.B. 1826 (Gallegos), Relating to the definition in the open meetings law of the term “deliberation.” Reported from the Senate Select Committee on Open Government.  As reported, the bill would provide that, as defined by the Open Meetings Act: (1) the term “deliberation” means an exchange, whether oral or written, between a quorum of a governmental body, or between a quorum of a governmental body and another person, concerning an issue within the jurisdiction of the governmental body or any public business; (2) the term “deliberation” includes an e-mail, letter, or other written communication that is produced by or originates from a member of the governmental body, is circulated among a quorum of the governmental body, concerns an issue within the jurisdiction of the governmental body or any public business; and (3) the term “meeting” includes a gathering: (a) that is conducted by the governmental body or for which the governmental body is responsible; (b) at which a quorum of members of the governmental body is present or actively participating; (c) that has been called by the governmental body; and (d) at which the members receive information from, give information to, ask questions of, or receive questions from any third person, including an employee of the governmental body, about the public business or public policy over which the governmental body has supervision or control.

S.J.R. 14 (Van de Putte), Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran or the principal residence of the surviving minor children.  Reported from the Senate Finance Committee.

S.J.R. 16 (Estes), Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.  Reported from the House Committee on Ways and Means.


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