H.B. 229 (Pitts), relating to bond/insurance requirements for on-site sewage disposal systems and county regulation of such systems. Passed the House.

H.B. 300 (Isett), relating to TxDoT sunset. Passed the House. (Please see the lead article in this update.)

H.B. 1229 (C. Howard), providing that: (1) in a county over 300,000 in population the members of the appraisal review board shall be appointed by the county commissioners court, not by the central appraisal district board; and (2) in all counties, the board of the appraisal district is expanded to include two elected members. Passed the House.

H.B. 1399 (Guillen), relating to inquests. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would authorize a municipal court judge to conduct an inquest and would require the city council to pay the fees of any experts the judge may require, unless the county agrees to pay the fees. (Note: it is assumed that, under the bill, the city could refuse to conduct an inquest.)

H.B. 2291 (Gattis), relating to adoption of property tax rates. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would provide that when a member of a municipal governing body makes a motion to set a property tax rate that exceeds the effective tax rate, the member must state the percentage by which the proposed rate exceeds the effective tax rate, and the city must include the same information in the adopted tax rate ordinance or resolution and on the home page of any Internet Web site operated by the city.

H.B. 2524 (Anchia), relating to elections. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would require the general custodian of election records, upon the receipt of an electronic voting system from a vendor, to: (1) verify that the system is certified by the secretary of state; (2) perform a hardware diagnostic test on the system; (3) perform a public test of logic and accuracy on the system, as well as any additional test required by the secretary of state; (4) create a pre-election security procedure; (5) secure access control keys or passwords to voting system equipment; and (6) create a contingency plan for addressing the failure of an electronic voting machine.

H.B. 2682 (Alvarado), relating to speed limits. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would limit the ability of cities to regulate vehicular speed in non-residential areas.

H.B. 3896 (Oliveira), extending tax abatement authority through September 1, 2019. Passed the House.

H.J.R. 14 (Corte), proposing to amend the Texas Constitution with regard to eminent domain authority. Passed the House. (Please see the related article elsewhere in this update.)

S.B. 61 (Zaffirini), relating to the offense of failing to secure a child in a motor vehicle. Passed the House. As passed, this bill would impose a 15-cent state fee on each conviction in municipal court for failure to secure a child passenger in a motor vehicle, with the revenue being dedicated to the purchase of child safety seats for low-income families.

S.B. 820 (Duncan), relating to the adoption of building codes. Passed the House. As passed, 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.

S.B. 1023 (Ogden), relating to eminent domain. Passed the Senate. As passed, this bill would provide that: (1) a condemnation petition must state that the facts to be proven are that the petitioner is authorized to condemn property for the purpose for which the property is sought, the use for which the property is sought is a public use, and the property sought is necessary to accomplish that public use; and (2) if a condemning entity fails to prove any of the facts, the court may deny the condemnation and award to the property owner the owner’s court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees and expert witness fees incurred in relation to the condemnation proceeding.

S.B. 1630 (Wentworth), providing that in lieu of furnishing requested information, a city may inform an open records requestor that the requested information is available on the city’s Web site and provide a means of accessing the Web site to the requestor. Passed the Senate.

S.B. 1714 (Hegar), relating to groundwater control districts (GWCDs). Passed the Senate. As passed, this bill would provide that a district may not transfer groundwater out of the district unless the applicant shows evidence of “beneficial use.”

S.B. 2085 (Davis), relating to political advertising. Passed the Senate. As passed, this bill would amend the statute criminalizing certain political advertising on measures as follows: (1) require that certain violations be “knowing”; (2) provide that it is an affirmative defense to a violation if the city relied on a written opinion by a court, the attorney general, or the Texas Ethics Commission; and (3) require the Texas Ethics Commission to prepare an advance written advisory opinion regarding a potential communication on a measure.

S.J.R. 42 (Duncan), proposing to amend the Texas Constitution to provide that “public use,” for the purposes of eminent domain, does not include the taking of property for transfer to a private entity for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue. Passed the Senate.

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