Finance and Administration

Property Tax

H.B. 97 (Perry/Van de Putte) – Property Tax Exemption: this bill provides, among other things: (1) that a disabled veteran who has a disability rating of less than 100 percent is entitled to an exemption from taxation of a percentage of the appraised value of the disabled veteran’s residence homestead equal to the disabled veteran’s disability rating if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization at no cost to the disabled veteran; and (2) that the exemption in (1), above, continues for the surviving spouse of the veteran if: (a) the surviving spouse has not remarried; (b) the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the disabled veteran died; and (c) the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse. (Effective January 1, 2014, but only if H.J.R. 24, summarized below, is approved by the voters.)

H.B. 242 (Otto/Hegar) – Property Tax Notice: requires a chief appraiser to provide certain property tax notices relating to agricultural land by certified mail. (Effective January 1, 2014.)

Please go here for the rest of the Property Tax legislation

Sales Tax

H.B. 78 (Simpson/Eltife) – Sales Tax Exemption: exempts from sales taxes the sale of any gold, silver, or numismatic coins, or platinum, gold, or silver bullion. (Effective October 1, 2013.)

H.B. 697 (Springer/Duncan) – Sales Tax Exemption: exempts food products, meals, soft drinks, and candy from sales and use taxes if they are served or sold at an event sponsored or sanctioned by an elementary or secondary school or a school district at a concession stand operated by a booster club or other school support organization, but only if the proceeds benefit the school or school district.  (Effective September 1, 2013.)

H.B. 800 (Murphy/Deuell) – Sales Tax Exemption: this bill, among other things, provides a sales tax exemption for certain personal property used in research and development activities. (Effective January 1, 2014.)

Please go here for the rest of the Sales Tax legislation

Purchasing

H.B. 194 (Farias/Hinojosa) – Historically Underutilized Businesses: provides that a veteran with at least a 20-percent service-connected disability is eligible to be listed as a historically underutilized business by the state.  (Effective September 1, 2013.)

H.B. 1050 (Callegari/Fraser) – Construction Contracts:  this bill: (1) prohibits a local government from entering into a contract to purchase construction-related goods or services through a purchasing cooperative in an amount greater than $50,000 unless a person designated by the local government certifies in writing that: (a) the project for which the construction-related goods or services are being procured does not require the preparation of plans and specifications by an architect or engineer under current law; or (b) if current law requires plans and specifications to be prepared by an architect or engineer, that has been done; (2) provides that a governmental entity may not award a governmental contract to a nonresident bidder unless the nonresident underbids the lowest bid submitted by a responsible resident bidder by an amount that is not less than the amount by which a resident bidder would be required to underbid the nonresident bidder to obtain a comparable contract in: (a) the state in which the nonresident's principal place of business is located; or (c) a state in which the nonresident is a resident manufacturer; (3) authorizes a governmental entity with a population of 500,000 or more within the entity’s geographic boundary or service area to enter into design-build contracts for not more than six civil works projects in any fiscal year; (4) provides that a design-build firm responding to a request for detailed proposals must identify its project team and may not make changes to that team, except under limited exceptions; (5) if the design-build firm makes team changes in violation of (4), above, provides that any cost savings resulting from the change accrue to the governmental entity and not to the design-build firm; (6) if a change order for a public works contract in a city with a population of 300,000 (current law is 500,000) or more involves a decrease or an increase of $100,000 or less, or a lesser amount as provided by ordinance, provides that the governing body of the city may grant general authority to an administrative official of the municipality to approve the change order; and (7) repeals the requirement that a governmental entity make a formal finding on the criteria used for selection of a design-build firm for civil works projects before preparing a request for qualifications.  (Effective September 1, 2013.)

Please go here for the rest of the Purchasing legislation

Elections

H.B. 195 (Farias/Van de Putte) – Campaign Reports:  requires the clerk of a city with a population of 500,000 or more to post on the city’s website reports of political expenditures and contributions that are filed with the clerk by the mayor or a member of the city council not later than the fifth business day after receipt of the report.  (Effective September 1, 2013.)

H.B. 259 (Simmons/Paxton) – Electioneering: prohibits a city that owns a building used as a polling place from restricting electioneering during early voting and on Election Day, including the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature on the building’s premises outside the prescribed limits, but allows a city to enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of electioneering. (Effective September 1, 2013.)

Please go here for the rest of the Elections legislation

Open Government

H.B. 367 (Martinez/Davis) – Public Information:  provides that:  (1) if a legislator or the lieutenant governor discloses to a governmental unit that is a “covered entity” for purposes of medical records privacy all or part of certain communications between the legislator or lieutenant governor and residents of this state, the record or information in the possession of the governmental unit is confidential and may only be disclosed to another person to the extent that the member of the legislature or lieutenant governor elects to disclose the record or information; (2) if a governmental unit that is a covered entity for purposes of medical records privacy receives a request for public information and the responsive information is information described in (1), above, the governmental unit must promptly notify the legislator or lieutenant governor that the request was received.  (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 2414 (Button/Deuell) – Open Meetings:  provides that:  (1) for purposes of the Open Meetings Act, “videoconference call” is defined to mean a communication conducted between two or more persons in which one or more of the participants communicate with the other participants through duplex audio and video signals transmitted over a telephone or data network; (2) a member or employee of a governmental body may participate remotely in a meeting of the governmental body by means of a videoconference call if the video and audio feed of the member’s or employee’s participation, as applicable, is broadcast live at the meeting and complies with the provisions of the bill; (3) a member of a governmental body who participates in a meeting as provided by (2), above, shall be counted as present at the meeting for all purposes; (4) a meeting of a governmental body may be held by videoconference call only if: (a) the governmental body makes available to the public at least one suitable physical space located in or within a reasonable distance of the geographic jurisdiction, if any, of the governmental body that is equipped with videoconference equipment that provides an audio and video display, as well as a camera and microphone by which a member of the public can provide testimony or otherwise actively participate in the meeting; (b) the member of the governmental body presiding over the meeting is present at that physical space; and (c) any member of the public present at that physical space is provided the opportunity to participate in the meeting by means of a videoconference call in the same manner as a person who is physically present at a meeting of the governmental body that is not conducted by videoconference call; (5) the notice of a meeting to be held by videoconference call must specify as a location of the meeting the location of the physical space described by (4)(a), above; (6) the physical location specified under (4)(a), above, shall have two-way audio and video communication with each member who is participating by videoconference call during the entire meeting, and that each participant in the videoconference call, while speaking, shall be clearly visible and audible to each other participant and, during the open portion of the meeting, to the members of the public in attendance at the physical location and at any other location of the meeting that is open to the public; (7) the audio and video signals perceptible by members of the public at each location of the meeting be of sufficient quality so that members of the public at each location  can observe the demeanor and hear the voice of each participant in the open portion of the meeting; and (8) essentially the same provisions as those found in S.B. 1297, summarized below and related to online communications amongst members of a governmental body, are included in the bill.  (Effective immediately.)

Please go here for the rest of the Open Government legislation

Other Bills

H.B. 7 (Darby/Williams) – Dedicated State Revenue:  this bill: (1) develops and implements a process to review the dedication, appropriation, and accumulation of general revenue dedicated funds and requires the Legislative Budget Board to incorporate into budget recommendations appropriate measures to reduce reliance on available dedicated revenue for certification; (2) reduces certain solid waste disposal “tipping” fees by approximately one quarter and would prohibit tipping fees from being applied to materials that are processed at composting and mulch processing facilities, except for materials that are utilized in the operation of or are disposed of in a landfill; (3) increases the allocation of tipping fee revenue deposited to the general revenue dedicated waste management account 549 from 50 to 66.7 percent and expands the purposes for which money in the account may be appropriated to include site remediation; and (4) expands the purposes for which money in the general revenue dedicated 9-1-1 service fees account 5050 may be appropriated to include maintaining 9-1-1 service levels during transitions to newer technology, planning and deploying certain emergency network systems, and updating geospacial mapping technologies.  (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 86 (Callegari/Lucio) – Sunset Review of Licensing Agency:  relates to the review by the Sunset Advisory Commission of a state agency that licenses an occupation, and provides that:  (1) in an assessment of an agency that licenses an occupation or profession, the commission and its staff shall consider: (a) whether the licensing program serves a meaningful, defined public interest and provides the least restrictive form of regulation that will adequately protect the public interest; (b) the extent to which the regulatory objective of the licensing program may be achieved through market forces, private or industry certification and accreditation programs, or enforcement of other law; (c) the extent to which any licensing criteria ensure that applicants have occupational skills sets or competencies that correlate with a public interest and the impact those criteria have on applicants, especially those with low income, seeking to enter the occupation or profession; and (d) the impact of the regulation, including the extent to which the program stimulates or restricts competition and affects consumer choice and the cost of services; (2) a legislator may submit proposed legislation that would create or affect an occupational licensing program to the commission for review and analysis; (3) if the commission reviews a legislative proposal described in (2), above, the commission shall submit a report to the legislature before the next legislative session; and (4) if the commission analyzes a legislative proposal to create a new licensing program, it must determine whether: (a) the unregulated practice of the occupation would be inconsistent with the public interest; (b) the public can reasonably be expected to benefit from an assurance of initial and continuing professional skill sets or competencies; and (c) the public can be more effectively protected by means other than state regulation.  (Effective September 1, 2013.)

Please go here for the rest of the Other Bills in the finance and administration legislation

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