H.B. 479 (Orr/Birdwell) – Economic Development Corporations:  permits the board of directors for a Type A or Type B economic development corporation located in a county with a population of less than 30,000 to conduct a board meeting anywhere within the boundaries of the county. (Previously, the law required that a meeting be held within the limits of the creating city.)  (Effective immediately.) 

H.B. 1147 (W. Smith/Wentworth) – Geospatial Data Products: provides that: (1) a city must provide certain notice on each geospatial data product (including any basic map) that: (a) is created or hosted by the city; (b) appears to represent property boundaries; and (c) was not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor; (2) the notice must be in substantially the following form:  “This product is for informational purposes and may not have been prepared for or be suitable for legal, engineering, or  surveying purposes. It does not represent an on-the-ground survey and represents only the approximate relative location of property boundaries.”; (3) the required notice may: (a) include language further defining the limits of liability of a geospatial data product producer; (b) apply to a geospatial data product that contains more than one map; or (c) for a notice that applies to a geospatial data product that is or is on an Internet Web site, be included on a separate page that requires the person accessing the website to agree to the terms of the notice before accessing the geospatial data product; and (4) a city is not required to include the notice on a  geospatial data product that does not contain a legal description, a property   boundary monument, or the distance and direction of a property line; is prepared only for use as evidence in a legal proceeding; is filed with the clerk of any court; or  is filed with the county clerk.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 1643 (Zerwas/Hegar) – Development Agreements: provides that the governing body of a city may make a written contract, for which the total duration and any successive renewals or extensions may not exceed 45 years, with an owner of land that is located in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city to guarantee the continuation of the extraterritorial status of the land and its immunity from annexation by the city.  (Effective immediately.)

VETOED H.B. 2608 (Harper-Brown/Hinojosa) – Housing:  this is the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) sunset bill.  The bill, among many other things, provides 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: (a) any requirements or procedures that local agencies and officials must satisfy or implement to qualify for long-term federal disaster recovery funding and prepare for long-term disaster recovery; and (b) 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.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 2690 (Deshotel/Duncan) – Sale of Real Property: provides that a political subdivision may – without complying with notice and bidding requirements – 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. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 2785 (J.Davis/Shapiro) – Economic Development:  establishes the Select Committee on Economic Development to ensure that economic development initiatives in the state are effective in encouraging new investment, employment, and income, and in retaining existing facilities and employment.  (Effective September 1, 2011.) 

S.B. 18 (Estes/Geren) – Eminent Domain this is the governor’s emergency item eminent domain bill.  Among other things, it:

  1. provides that a governmental or private entity may not take private property through the use of eminent domain if the taking is not for a “public use.”
  2. makes changes to the permitted activities of a surface owner with regard to easements acquired for a pipeline to be used for oil or gas exploration or production activities.
  3. with regard to permissible roads built over an easement for an oil and gas pipeline, provides that the property owner and easement owner may agree to any terms related to the road that they wish.
  4. provides that a city may exercise the right of eminent domain only for a public use to acquire public or private property, whether located inside or outside the city, for any of an enumerated list of uses in current law, including providing, enlarging, or improving of only a municipally-owned city hall or other project.
  5. Enacts the Truth in Condemnation Procedures Act, which requires – among other things – a record vote with specific procedures and wording to take each parcel of land through the use of eminent domain.
  6. requires that any entity authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain must submit to the state comptroller, by December 31, 2012, a letter stating that the entity is authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain and identifying the provision or provisions of law that grant the entity that authority, and provides that the entity’s authority to use eminent domain will expire if the letter is not sent by the deadline.
  7. provides, among other things, that an entity with eminent domain authority that wants to acquire real property shall disclose to the property owner any and all appraisal reports produced or acquired by the entity relating specifically to the owner’s property and prepared in the ten years preceding the offer.
  8. provides that: (1) an entity seeking to acquire property may not include a confidentiality provision in an offer or agreement to acquire the property; and (2) the entity shall inform the owner of the property that the owner has the right to: (a) discuss any offer or agreement regarding the entity’s acquisition of the property with others; or (b) keep the offer or agreement confidential (subject to the requirements of the Texas Public Information Act).
  9. requires an entity with eminent domain authority that wants to acquire real property for a public use to make a bona fide offer to acquire the property from the property owner voluntarily, and list specific criteria that must be met to meet the bona fide offer requirement.
  10. provides that a court that determines that a condemnor did not make a bona fide offer to acquire the property from the property owner voluntarily must abate the suit, order the condemnor to make a bona fide offer, and order the condemnor to pay costs and attorneys’ and other professionals’ fees.
  11. provides that a condemnation petition must state with specificity the public use for which the entity intends to acquire the property and that the city made a bona fide offer to acquire the property voluntarily.
  12. provides, among other things, that each party has a reasonable period to strike one of the three special commissioners appointed by the judge in the case, with the judge appointing a replacement.
  13. provides that the special commissioners shall consider an injury or benefit that is peculiar to the property owner and that relates to the property owner’s ownership, use, or enjoyment of the particular parcel of real property, including a material impairment of direct access on or off the remaining property that affects the market value of the remaining property, but they may not consider an injury or benefit that the property owner experiences in common with the general community, including circuity of travel and diversion of traffic.
  14. requires a city, as a cost of acquiring real property, to: (a) provide a relocation advisory service for an individual, a family, a business concern, a farming or ranching operation, or a nonprofit organization that is compatible with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act; and (b) pay moving expenses and rental supplements, make relocation payments, provide financial assistance to acquire replacement housing, and compensate for expenses incidental to the transfer of the property if an individual, a family, the personal property of a business, a farming or ranching operation, or a nonprofit organization is displaced in connection with the acquisition.
  15. provides that an entity that is not subject to the Public Information Act, such a gas pipeline operator, must disclose certain information relating to its use of eminent domain upon request.
  16. modifies the current provisions that allow a property owner to repurchase the property if it isn’t used by the condemnor within 10 years of the date of acquisition by providing that:
    1. an entity with eminent domain authority shall disclose in writing to the property owner, at the time of acquisition of the property through eminent domain, that: (a)  the owner or the owner’s heirs, successors, or assigns may be entitled to: (i) repurchase the property; or (ii) request from the entity certain information relating to the use of the property and any actual progress made toward that use; and (b) the repurchase price is the price paid to the owner by the entity at the time the entity acquired the property through eminent domain.
    2. a person from whom a real property interest is acquired by an entity through eminent domain for a public use, or that person's heirs, successors, or assigns, is entitled to repurchase the property as provided by this subchapter if: (a) the public use for which the property was acquired through eminent domain is canceled before the property is used for that public use; (b) no actual progress – as defined in the bill – is made toward the public use for which the property was acquired between the date of acquisition and the 10th anniversary of that date; or (c) the property becomes unnecessary for the public use for which the property was acquired, or a substantially similar public use, before the 10th anniversary of the date of acquisition.
    3. not later than the 180th day after the date that the former property owner is entitled to repurchase the property, the entity shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns a notice containing – among other things – an identification of the public use for which the property had been acquired, a statement that the person has a right to repurchase the property under the bill, and an explanation of the reason under the bill the person has acquired the right to repurchase the property.
    4. on or after the 10th anniversary of the date on which real property was acquired by an entity through eminent domain, a property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns may request that the condemning entity make a determination and provide a statement and other relevant information regarding:  (a)  whether the public use for which the property was acquired was canceled before the property was used for the public use; (b) whether any actual progress was made toward the public use between the date of acquisition and the 10th anniversary of that date, including an itemized description of the progress made, if applicable; and (c) whether the property became unnecessary for the public use, or a substantially similar public use, before the 10th anniversary of the date of acquisition.
    5. the right to repurchase provided by the bill is extinguished on the first anniversary of the expiration of the period for an entity to provide notice required under the bill if the entity: (a) is required to provide repurchase notice to a landowner; (b) makes a good faith effort to locate and provide notice to each person entitled to notice before the expiration of the deadline for providing notice; and (c) does not receive a response to any notice provided in the period for response.
    6. as soon as practicable after receipt of a notice of intent to repurchase, the entity shall offer to sell the property interest to the person for the price paid to the owner by the entity at the time the entity acquired the property through eminent domain.
    7. provide that a city council may adopt a development plan for a public use project at a public hearing to toll the 10-year right to repurchase if certain other criteria are met.
  17. modifies the standard for determination of the fair value of the state’s interest in access rights to a highway right-of-way to be the same legal standard that is applied by the Texas Transportation Commission according to the Texas Transportation Code, which may include the impairment of highway access to or from real property where the real property adjoins the highway.

(Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 173 (West/Dutton) – Substandard Buildings: provides that: (1) a city may bring a civil action in rem (against the property) for, among other things, the enforcement of a building standards ordinance (Note: the effect of an in rem action is a judgment against the structure as well as a judgment against the defendant, which can aid in enforcement against subsequent purchasers); (2) a home rule city may bring an action in district court against an owner of property that is not in substantial compliance with municipal ordinances regarding: (a) the materials or methods used to construct a building or other structure or improvement; (b) the preservation of public health or the fire safety of a building or other structure or improvement; (c) dangerously damaged or deteriorated structures or improvements; (d) conditions caused by accumulations of refuse, vegetation, or other matter that creates breeding and living places for insects and rodents; or (e) point source effluent; and (3) with some exceptions, a court may appoint as a receiver for substandard property a nonprofit organization or an individual with a demonstrated record of rehabilitating properties if the court makes certain findings.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 309 – Major Events Trust Fund:  this bill: (1) updates the list of events eligible to receive funding from the Major Events Trust Fund to include the Academy of Country Music Awards, the National Cutting Horse Triple Crown, and a national political convention of the Republican National Committee or the Democratic National Committee; and (2) requires the comptroller to complete a study in the market area of an event eligible for disbursements from the fund not later than 18 months after the last day of an event in order to evaluate the measurable economic impact attributable to the event.    

S.B. 402 (West/Oliveira) – Community Land Trusts:  provides that the governing body of a city or county by ordinance or order may create or designate one or more community land trusts (CLTs), including a housing finance corporation or a land trust operated by a community housing development organization certified by the city or county, to operate in the city or county. (Note: A CLT is an affordable housing tool generally used in gentrifying areas in which the CLT acquires title to land, sells or leases housing units located on the land, and leases the land through ground leases with terms of at least 99 years.)  The bill makes land in a CLT tax-exempt.  (Effective January 1, 2012.)

S.B. 1082 (Hegar/Laubenberg) – Strategic Partnership Agreements:  provides that: (1) a city may enter into a strategic partnership agreement (SPA) only with certain conservation and reclamation districts; (2) to be annexed for limited purposes under an SPA, an area must be in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and contiguous to the corporate or limited purpose boundaries unless the district consents to noncontiguous annexation pursuant to an SPA with the city; and (3) a city may not regulate the sale, use, storage, or transportation of fireworks outside the city’s boundaries pursuant to an SPA.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

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