PRE-FILING OF BILLS CONTINUES

H.B. 4 (Orr) – Eminent Domain: would make various changes to eminent domain laws. Specifically, the bill would:

  1. require a record vote with specific wording to take each parcel of land through the use of eminent domain;
  2. require that any entity, including a private entity, authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain must submit to the state comptroller, by December 31, 2010, 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 would provide that the entity’s authority to use eminent domain will expire if the letter is not sent by the deadline;
  3. provide that any entity with eminent domain authority that wants to acquire real property for a public use shall, at the time an offer to purchase or lease the property is made, disclose to the property owner any and all appraisal reports produced or acquired by the entity that relate to the owner's property and were used in determining the final valuation offer;
  4. provide that a property owner shall disclose to the entity seeking to acquire the property any and all current appraisal reports produced or acquired by the property owner relating specifically to the owner's property and used in determining the owner's opinion of value;
  5. mandate that the initial offer to purchase made by an entity must also include: (a) a copy of provisions of law relating to various disclosures of value; (b) a written estimate of the fair market value of the property and the amount of damages to the property owner's remaining property, if any, that will result from the acquisition; and (c) a statement that the property owner has a right to make a written request to the entity for certain valuation evidence regarding the property and adjacent properties;
  6. provide for deadlines and procedures under which an entity must provide the information requested by a property owner under (5)(c), above;
  7. mandate that an entity that wants to acquire real property for a public use shall provide to a property owner at least two written offers proposing a purchase or lease of the property, as the entity determines in good faith is appropriate, and that the last offer the entity intends to make shall be in writing and be designated on its face as such;
  8. provide that after a property owner receives an offer from an entity proposing to acquire the owner's property for a public use, the property owner may request that the entity procure an appraisal report about the property by an independent and certified appraiser chosen by the property owner;
  9. require an entity to negotiate in good faith to acquire the property through a voluntary purchase or lease agreement, with good faith being defined as compliance with the bill’s requirements;
  10. provide that a condemnation petition must state with specificity the public purpose for which the entity intends to use the property;
  11. provide that the judge of a court in which a condemnation petition is filed shall provide each party a reasonable period to strike one of the three special commissioners appointed by the judge, with the court appointing a replacement;
  12. require an entity to 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 repurchase the property or request from the entity certain information relating to the use of the property and any actual progress made toward that use; and (b) that the repurchase price is the price paid to the owner by the entity at the time the entity acquired the property through eminent domain;
  13. provide that, if a court finds that the condemnor did not negotiate in good faith to acquire the property, the condemnor shall pay costs and attorney’s fees;
  14. modify the current provisions that allow a property owner to repurchase the property by providing for repurchase if: (a) the public use for which the property was acquired through eminent domain is canceled; (b) no actual progress is made toward the public use for which the property was acquired between the date of acquisition and the tenth anniversary of that date; or (c) the property becomes unnecessary for the public use for which the property was acquired;
  15. define the term “actual progress” as being the completion of two or more items in a list of expressly enumerated actions;
  16. mandate that, not later than the 180th day after the date an entity that acquired a real property interest through eminent domain determines that the former property owner is entitled to repurchase the property, the entity shall send a notice to the property owner of that fact;
  17. provide that, on or after the tenth anniversary of the date on which property was acquired by an entity, 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 whether the property will be used for its intended purpose, among other information; and
  18. make all common carrier pipelines subject to the restrictions in current law regarding the use of eminent domain for economic development.

H.B. 26 (Leibowitz) – Golf Carts: would allow an unregistered golf cart to be driven on any street for up to two miles.

H.B. 48 (Riddle) – Employment: would: (1) require the state and any political subdivision that issues a license to revoke the license for one year from any employer found to be employing undocumented workers; and (2) permit the governmental entity revoking the license to charge a fee.

H.B. 126 (Anderson) – Salvia Divinorum: would make Salvia divinorum and its derivatives and extracts subject to Penalty Group 3 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

H.B. 195 (Alonzo) – Municipal Court: would require a municipal court to set a pre-trial hearing upon the request of either party, not later than 30 days before the trial begins.

H.B. 206 (Jackson) – Alcoholic Beverages: would: (1) allow the holder of an on-premises alcohol consumption permit to allow an individual to bring alcoholic beverages onto the permitted premises for consumption by that individual; (2) grant the Alcoholic Beverage Commission the ability to suspend or cancel a permit if a breach of the peace occurs on the premises covered by a permit; and (3) make it an offense for a commercial establishment that charges a fee for being admitted to the establishment to allow customers to bring alcoholic beverages onto the premises if the establishment does not have an on-premises consumption permit.

H.B. 224 (Olivo) – School Police Officers: would require a city that employs a school police officer or school resource officer to provide additional training to the officer.

H.B. 229 (Pitts) – On-Site Sewage Disposal: would require a person applying for a license (or license renewal) to install on-site sewage disposal systems to show proof of a bond or insurance policy.

H.B. 334 (Aycock) – Elections: would require an election authority to provide notice at least four days in advance of any meeting called by the election authority to the county chair of each political party that made nominations by primary election for the general election for state and county officers.

H.B. 337 (Harless) – Elections: would provide that an independent school district that holds a joint election with a county is not required to pay any of the costs associated with the conduct of voting on election day or during the early voting period.

H.B. 342 (Herrero) – Debt Payment: would require a city that is a creditor for a consumer debt of an individual to defer payment or suit for the debt if: (1) the individual is in active military service; (2) the debt was incurred before the person was called into active military service; (3) the individual is called up for 180 days or more of service; (4) the individual is earning ten percent less income than on the date the debt was incurred; and (5) the city receives the required paperwork.

H.B. 343 (Herrero) – Debt Payment: would require a city that is a creditor of a consumer debt to defer payment or suit for a debt of an individual injured in a combat zone until: (1) one year after the individual is released to active duty or nonmilitary work; (2) one year after the individual has completed any needed retraining; or (3) the individual is dishonorably discharged.

H.B. 385 (Ortiz) – Graffiti: would: (1) redefine “contraband” to include items used in graffiti offenses; and (2) change the activity of creating graffiti in order to enter or remain a member of a gang to a “gang-related activity,” possibly affecting criminal penalties.

H.B. 417 (Callegari) – Eminent Domain: would provide that:

  1. the term "blighted area" means an area that presents four or more of the following conditions for one year after a property owner receives notice of the condition: (a) the area contains uninhabitable, unsafe, or abandoned structures; (b) the area has inadequate provisions for sanitation; (c) there exists at the area an imminent harm to life or other property caused by fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, storm, or other natural catastrophe declared to be a disaster; (d) the area has been identified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund site or as environmentally contaminated to an extent that the property requires remedial investigation or a feasibility study; (e) the area has been the location of substantiated and repeated illegal activity of which the property owner knew or should have known; (f) the maintenance of the property is below county or municipal standards; (g) the property is abandoned and contains a structure that is not fit for its intended use because the utilities, sewerage, plumbing, heating, or a similar service or facility of the structure has been disconnected, destroyed, removed, or rendered ineffective; or (h) the property presents an economic liability to the immediate area because of deteriorating structures or hazardous conditions;
  2. the current statutory provisions relating to urban renewal eminent domain apply only to blighted areas (as opposed to "slum" areas);
  3. a municipal governing body must determine that each unit of property (as opposed to an “area,” as is current law) be designated as blighted, and make corresponding procedural changes to urban renewal laws;
  4. notwithstanding any other law, an area may not be considered a blighted area on the basis of a condition described in number (1) above unless the city has given notice in writing to the property owner regarding the imminent harm to life or other property caused by the condition of the property, and the property owner fails to take reasonable measures to remedy the harm caused by the property;
  5. an area may not be considered blighted solely for aesthetic reasons;
  6. a city shall 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 Advisory Program;
  7. a city shall, as a cost of acquiring real property, 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;
  8. the special commissioners in a condemnation hearing shall admit evidence on the injury to the property owner, including the financial damages associated with the cost of relocating from the condemned property, if the property was habitable, to another property that allows the property owner to have a standard of living comparable to the property owner's standard of living before the condemnation of the property; and
  9. the provisions of the bill shall supercede broad eminent domain powers relative to tax increment financing.

H.B. 419 (B. Brown) – Elections: would provide that: (1) a city with a population of less than 5,000 is exempt from certain electronic voting requirements, and (2) the exemption shall not apply in a joint election where a federal office appears on the ballot.

H.B. 423 (Guillen) – Municipal Court: would authorize municipal judges to perform wedding ceremonies.

H.B. 424 (Castro) – Sales Tax: would add school supplies to the list of items that are exempt during the August sales tax holiday.

H.B. 430 (Castro) – Municipal Court: would authorize a municipal court judge who is also a licensed attorney to issue certain types of search warrants.

H.B. 433 (Lucio) – Solid Waste: would create new requirements for notice and public meetings during the application process for a new municipal solid waste facility or new municipal solid waste management facility, including signage requirements and mailed notice to property owners within a mile of the proposed facility.

H.B. 438 (Lucio) – Cell Phone Ban: would prohibit a driver from using a cell phone while driving, except for uses in connection with the official duties of emergency response personnel and police.

H.B. 442 (Edwards) – Property Tax: would reduce the interest rate on deferred senior property taxes from eight to five percent.

H.B. 450 (Taylor) – Sales Tax: would create a three-day sales tax holiday in June for certain hurricane preparation supplies. (Companion bill is S.B. 360 by Patrick.)

H.B. 451 (Allen) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would require health benefit plans to cover autism in a child up to age eighteen. (Note: current law requires coverage up to age six.)

H.B. 452 (Allen) – Elections: would provide that: (1) any qualified person who will be absent from his/her county on election day is eligible for early voting by mail; and (2) a person who is in jail on a misdemeanor charge is eligible for early voting by mail in certain circumstances. (Companion bill is S.B. 137 by Ellis.)

H.B. 453 (Gonzalez Toureilles) – Law Enforcement: would authorize a police department to use funds transferred to the agency after the auction of an abandoned vehicle to compensate property owners who suffered property damage during a police pursuit.

H.B. 457 (Alvarado) – Building Regulations: would require a city to verify that certain coastal gas service stations have alternate electrical generators before the city may issue a certificate of occupancy to the service station.

H.B. 463 (Eissler) – Swimming Pool Safety: would: (1) require a person who sells or installs a pool to provide a pool yard enclosure gate and a device to prevent entrapment by a pool drain; (2) for pools installed on or after September 1, 2010, require a pool to have either more than one drain, one or more unblockable drains, or no main drain; (3) require a pool that has a main drain to be equipped with a drain cover that conforms to ASME/ANSI Standard A112.19.8M, as well as possess at least one specified anti-entrapment device; (4) allow the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission to adopt additional safety requirements; and (5) require the Department of State Health Services to conduct an education program to inform the public of these safety requirements. (Companion bill is S.B. 96 by Van de Putte.) (Note: the drain requirements of this bill match the federal standards enacted in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was signed into law on December 19, 2007.)

H.B. 468 (Paxton) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain telecommunications equipment.

H.B. 475 (Allen) – Early Voting: would require all early voting polling places, the main early voting place, and temporary branch polling places to be open from 7a.m. to 7p.m., regardless of the size of the city or county.

H.B. 489 (Pickett) – Graffiti: would: (1) authorize a city to require a property owner to remove graffiti from the property; (2) allow the city to remove the graffiti and charge the expense to the property owner; and (3) exempt from the Texas Tort Claims Act any claim arising from property damage caused by the removal of graffiti by the city.

H.B. 496 (Zerwas) – Elections: would: (1) require mailed notice of a special election to each registered voter in the jurisdiction covered by the election or notice by announcement during news segments on radio or television stations in the jurisdiction covered by the election; and (2) provide that, to the extent practicable, the location of the polling place for a special election shall be the same as the location used in the most recent election for state and county officers.

H.J.R. 20 (Anderson) – Hunting and Fishing: would amend the Texas Constitution to give every citizen the right to hunt and fish.

S.B. 96 (Van de Putte) – Swimming Pool Safety: this bill is the same as H.B. 463 by Eissler, above.

S.B. 141 (Ellis) – Elections: would allow an individual who has been convicted of a felony to register as a qualified voter as long as the individual is not confined in a facility operated by or under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

S.B. 213 (Shapleigh) – Solid Waste: would require a city that generates, collects, conveys, transports, processes, stores, or disposes of municipal sewage sludge, grit trap waste, or grease trap waste to: (1) keep records using a uniform transportation manifest created by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ); (2) archive the records for at least three years; and (3) make the records available to TCEQ upon request in order to verify that the amount reported as transported matches the amount of waste reported as created by the city.

S.B. 222 (West) – Employment Agreements: would make an arbitration agreement between an employer city and an employee void and unenforceable unless the arbitration provision is part of a collective bargaining agreement.

S.B. 303 (Shapleigh) – Health Insurance: would: (1) limit the way in which health benefit insurers may use application forms to accept insureds; and (2) limit the situations under which an insurer may cancel an insured’s health policy.

S.B. 375 (Carona) – Accident Report Information: would: (1) provide for the confidentiality of certain types of accident reports; and (2) allow the Department of Transportation to release aggregated or statistical information relating to motor vehicle accidents, subject to certain exceptions.

S.B. 383 (Carona) – Rail Relocation Fund: would dedicate $200 million of the annual proceeds of the state motor vehicle sales tax to the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund.

S.B. 387 (Carona) – Law Enforcement: would allow a complaint or an arrest warrant to be forwarded not only by telegraph, but also by secure fax transmission or other secure electronic means.

S.B. 388 (Carona) – Law Enforcement: would: (1) create a statewide Law Enforcement Integrity Unit within the Department of Public Safety to assist with the investigation and prosecution of law enforcement corruption; (2) require a local law enforcement agency to cooperate with the unit by providing information requested for investigatory purposes; and (3) allow the Public Safety Commission to transfer administration of the integrity unit to the office of inspector general under certain circumstances.

S.B. 389 (Patrick) – Police Vehicles: would permit privately own vehicles to qualify as city police vehicles for purposes of various exceptions to traffic offenses, provided the vehicle is: (1) owned by a peace officer; and (2) the police chief has approved the use.

S.B. 391 (Patrick) – Elections: would: (1) require the secretary of state to cancel the voter registration of a previously registered voter whose name appears on a list of individuals excused or disqualified from jury duty because of citizenship status; (2) require that an individual be an eligible voter in order to be appointed as a volunteer deputy registrar; (3) establish as early voting dates the 12th through fourth day before election day for any runoff election; and (4) set the maximum total amount that a county may charge another political subdivision for leasing county-owned voting equipment at ten percent of the purchase price, rather than ten percent of the purchase price for each day the equipment is leased.

S.B. 402 (Eltife) – Sales Tax: 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. 410 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would: (1) require a complaint in municipal court to be presented within two years of the date of the offense; and (2) define “presentation” as a filing of the complaint by the proper officer in the proper court.

S.B. 411 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would permit a city to enter a restitution lien against a defendant in order to secure the payment of: (1) certain fines or costs entered against the defendant in a misdemeanor criminal judgment; and (2) damages incurred by the city as a result of a vehicle pursuit while the defendant was evading arrest.

SB 412 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would allow a judge to require a defendant in municipal court, after a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, to post a bond in the amount of the fine assessed to secure payment of any fine or special expense that could be imposed.

S.B. 413 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would require a complaint to be filed in municipal court if a defendant fails to appear based on written notice, such as a citation, that has been filed with the court.

S.B. 414 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would provide that, for purposes of a commitment hearing in municipal court, a defendant may be brought before the court in person or by means of an electronic broadcast system through which an image of the defendant is presented to the court, including secure Internet videoconferencing.

S.B. 415 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would require a defendant who has been accused of a fine-only offense to be arraigned in a municipal court or justice court, instead of a county or statutory count court.

S.B. 416 (Carona) – Municipal Court: would provide that the $25 child safety fund court fee for traffic offenses that occur in school zones applies only when the offense occurs within a city.

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