CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

PROPERTY TAX

H.B. 732 (Raymond) – Property Tax:  would provide that, if property is owned by an individual who qualifies for a property tax exemption for a disabled veteran or the disabled veteran’s surviving spouse and minor children, the amount of the tax due on the property is calculated as if the individual qualified for the exemption on January 1 and continued to qualify for the exemption for the remainder of the tax year.

H.B. 780 (Farias) – Property Tax: would require the Legislative Budget Board to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the effect of a homestead property tax exemption of $5,000 for veterans of the United States armed services. 

H.B. 805 (Orr) – Property Tax:  would provide that a person who has served as a member of the governing body or officer of a taxing unit for which an appraisal district appraises property may serve on the appraisal review board after the second anniversary of the date the person ceased to be a member or officer if the appraisal district is established for a county with a population of between 100,000 and 250,000. (Current law requires a four-year wait.)

S.B. 247 (Carona) – Property Tax: would: (1) prohibit a property tax lender from selling, transferring, assigning, or releasing rights related to a property tax loan to a person who is not licensed by the Finance Commission of Texas; and (2) repeal the expedited foreclosure process for a tax lien by a licensed property tax lender. 

S.B. 269 (Seliger) – Property Tax:  would provide that the agriculture rollback penalty does not apply to land owned by an organization that qualifies as a school if the organization converts the land to a use for which the land is eligible for a property tax exemption.  (Companion bill is H.B. 561 by Workman.)

SALES TAX

H.B. 697 (Springer) – Sales Tax:  would exempt food products, meals, soft drinks, candy, and any school spirit merchandise from sales and use taxes if they are served or sold by a booster club or other school support organization. 

H.B. 744 (Ashby) – Sales Tax:  would exempt the sale or storage, use, or other consumption of an e-reader, personal computer, or tablet computer from sales and use taxes if the device is: (1) purchased during a specified weekend preceding the beginning of the school year; (2) purchased for less than $1,000; and (3) not purchased over the Internet. 

PURCHASING

H.B. 768 (Howard) – Public Private Partnerships:  would expand the definition of a “qualifying project” under the state’s public private partnership legislation (S.B. 1048, 2011) to include a technology facility.

ELECTIONS

H.B. 684 (Johnson) – Redistricting:  would require the comptroller to adjust population counts reported in the federal decennial census for persons incarcerated by treating the person as if the person resided at the address at which the person resided before the person’s incarceration rather than in the city where the incarceration facility is located.  (This bill is identical to H.B. 329 by Dutton.)

H.B. 728 (Price) – Candidate Eligibility: would provide that, to be eligible to be a candidate for a public elective office, one must not have been placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for a felony.

H.B. 770 (Howard) – Early Voting: would allow for an electronic transmission of an image of an application to vote by mail be submitted to the early voting clerk.

OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS

H.B. 756 (S. Davis) – Dedicated Tax and Fee Revenue:  would: (1)  require the comptroller to identify statutorily dedicate revenues derived from a state tax or fee that are deposited to the credit of an account in the general revenue fund during the preceding fiscal year that are not spent or obligated to be spent for the purpose for which they were set aside; (2) require the comptroller to transfer the funds identified in (1), above, to a special fund and appropriate them for the purpose of refunding the unspent portions of the dedicated taxes or fees to the person who paid the tax or fee in a manner provided by the comptroller; and (3) authorize the comptroller to use not more than two percent of the revenues appropriated from the special fund for the purpose of implementing a refunding program.

H.B. 785 (S. Davis) – Bond Elections: would require that a ballot proposition submitted to the voters for approval of the issuance of bonds or other debt shall specifically state: (1) the total principal amount of the bonds or other debt to be authorized, if approved; (2) a general description of the purposes for which the bonds or other debt are to be authorized, if approved; and (3) the total debt accrued by the issuer as of the first day of the fiscal year in which the election is held and any additional debt authorized as of the date of the election.

H.B. 786 (E. Rodriguez) – Payday Lending: would provide that payday and motor vehicle title lenders are subject to the same level of state regulation and oversight as other credit services organizations, and cannot assist a consumer in obtaining an extension of credit that is not in the form of a payday or motor vehicle title loan.

H.J.R. 66 (Raymond) – City Council Compensation:  would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that a public school employee or retired public school employee, other than a school district superintendent or a retired school district superintendent, may receive compensation for serving as a member of a local governing body, including a city council.

S.B. 246 (West) – Attorney General Opinions:  would allow a request for an attorney general opinion to be sent electronically to an electronic mail address designated by the attorney general.

S.B. 251 (West)– Unsworn Declaration:  would require a government employee, including a city employee, who uses an unsworn declaration in lieu of written sworn declaration, verification, certification, oath, or affidavit to include additional language in the statement regarding their employment with the governmental entity.

S.B. 266 (Seliger) – Hotel Occupancy Tax:  would allow a city to use hotel occupancy tax revenue to conduct audits of hotels that fail to report or are delinquent in their payment to the city. 

S.B. 267 (Seliger)– Liability: would limit a city’s liability for space flight activities conducted at a municipal airport. (Companion bill is H.B. 278 by Craddick).

S.J.R. 23 (Estes) – State Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit using dedicated revenues or account or fund balances for non-dedicated general governmental purposes or for certification of appropriations for non-dedicated purposes or entities. 

MUNICIPAL COURTS

H.B. 625 (Harper-Brown) – License Plates:  would provide that it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200 to operate a vehicle without the required license plates.

H.B. 657 (Lavender) – License Plates: would require Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to issue for attachment at the rear of a vehicle only one license plate and would create an offense for operating a passenger car or light truck without a license plate attached at the rear.

H.B. 678 (Sheets) – Financial Responsibility:  would allow a motor vehicle operator to provide proof of insurance in an electronic format displayed on a wireless communication device.

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC  DEVELOPMENT

H.B. 654 (Cortez) – Housing Authority Commissioners:  would repeal term limits for local housing authority commissioners in a city with a municipal housing authority with a total number of units of 150 or more.

H.B. 674 (Ratliff) – Zoning Notice:  would provide that, before the tenth day before the hearing date, written notice of each public hearing before the zoning commission on a proposed change in a zoning classification affecting residential or multifamily zoning shall be sent to each school district in which the property for which the change in classification is proposed is located. 

H.B. 675 (Ratliff) – Sexually Oriented Business Advertising:  would provide that a city may regulate the location of off-premise signs advertising a sexually oriented business by requiring those signs to be located in a particular area of the city or prohibiting those signs from being located within a certain distance from a land use that the governing body finds to be inconsistent with sexually oriented business advertising, including: (1) a school; (2) a place of worship; (3) a residential neighborhood; or (4) an interstate highway, a United States highway, or a state highway.

H.B. 691 (Phillips) – Halfway Houses:  would provide that: (1) the governing body of a county or city, by order or ordinance, may adopt regulations regarding the location of halfway houses as defined by the bill as the governing body considers necessary to promote the public health, safety, or welfare; and (2) a regulation adopted by a county applies only to the unincorporated area of the county and a regulation adopted by a city applies only to the incorporated area of the city.

H.B. 737 (Farias) – Payday Lenders:  would grant certain payday lending protections to certain members of the Texas National Guard and armed forces of the United States and their dependents.

H.B. 754 (Ashby) – Eminent Domain:  would prohibit a state agency, political subdivision, or a corporation created by a governmental entity from taking private property through the use of eminent domain if the taking is for a recreational purpose, including a parks and recreation system or a specific park, greenbelt, or trail.

PERSONNEL

H.B. 626 (Harper-Brown) – Texas Municipal Retirement System: would change the definition of “employee” for purposes of participation in the Texas Municipal Retirement System to require that an employee work 1,500 hours per year instead of 1,000 hours a year.

H.B. 651 (Capriglione) – Texas Municipal Retirement System:  would: (1) allow a city to adopt an ordinance, which applies to new employees only, that changes the definition of “employee” for purposes of participation in the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) to require that an employee work not less than 1,500 hours instead of 1,000 hours a year; and (2) require a city with such an ordinance to file it with TMRS 30 days before it becomes effective.

H.B. 667 (Martinez) – Employee Leave Discrimination:  would make it an unlawful employment practice to administer a policy relating to leave to care for sick children that does not apply to foster children.

H.B. 710 (Callegari) – Peace Officers:  would prohibit an active peace officer from using his or her rank or officer status to advertise or promote his or her private business. 

H.B. 718 (Smithee)– Texas Municipal Retirement System:  would: (1) allow a participating Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) city to adopt a non-retroactive flat rate cost of living adjustment (COLA); (2) to comply with federal law applicable to qualified plans, provide that any increased payment to an annuitant resulting from such a COLA adopted by a city would be limited to the cumulative increase the annuitant would have been entitled to receive if the 70 percent of CPI limit under TMRS’s existing law had been applied to the annuity; and (3) require that, if a city adopts an ordinance to either discontinue an annually repeating COLA or to reduce an annually repeating COLA, the city must give written notice to members and annuitants at least 60 days prior to the effective date of the change adopted in the ordinance.

H.B. 731 (Raymond) – Personnel:  would: (1) require a city’s construction contracts to mandate that a contractor: (a) provide at least a 15-minute rest break for every four hours of work its employees perform; and (b) ensure that employees do not work more than three-and-a-half hours without receiving a break; (2) require a city to develop procedures for administering the bill’s provisions; and (3) allow a city to impose an administrative penalty if a contractor violates the provisions.

H.B. 741 (Walle) – Personnel:  would: (1) require a public employer, including a city, to develop breastfeeding policies for its employees that encourage and accommodate breastfeeding; (2) require a public employer to provide breaks and a room for breastfeeding; and (3) make it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate against an individual based on the employee’s exercise of her right to breastfeed in the workplace. 

S.B. 237 (Van de Putte) – Employment Discrimination:  would prohibit an elected city official or a city that employs fifteen or more employees from discriminating against an employee or an employment applicant on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

S.B. 248 (Davis) – Employment Discrimination:  would track the language of the Federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and would: (1) extend the statute of limitations on pay discrimination claims every time an individual is paid based on a past discriminatory decision made by an employer; and (2) allow back pay and benefits for up to two years preceding the date of filing a complaint of pay discrimination. 

PUBLIC SAFETY

H.B. 689 (Marquez) – Red Light Cameras:  would permit red light cameras at railroad crossings.

H.B. 700 (Lavender) – Handguns:  would, among many other things, authorize a concealed handgun license holder to openly carry a handgun.

H.B. 706 (Capriglione) – Handguns:  would, among other things, provide that: (1) a public institution of higher education may not adopt any rule, regulation, or other provision prohibiting concealed handgun license holders from carrying handguns on the campus of the institution; (2)  a private institution of higher education may, after consulting with students, staff, and faculty of the institution, adopt rules, regulations, or other provisions prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns on premises that are owned or operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution; and (3)  a public or private institution of higher education may establish rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories that are owned or operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution.

H.B. 730 (Raymond) – Police Officer Training: would require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education to create a voluntary training program on the use of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) devices for police officers.  (An EMP device is used to disable a fleeing suspect’s engine in a police chase.)

H.B. 746 (Ashby) – Volunteers:  would: (1) provide a program for in-state and out-of-state volunteer health care and veterinary practitioners to practice in Texas during an emergency declaration; and (2) limit their liability in certain circumstances.

H.B. 762 (Guillen)–Disaster Remediation Contracts:  would expand state law protections related to disaster remediation contracts to include locally-declared disasters.

H.B. 767 (King) – Disabled Parking: would: (1) allow a city to assess a civil penalty on a person who parks in a designated disabled parking space without a license plate or placard indicating the individual is disabled; and (2) increase the maximum fine amount for the corresponding criminal penalty.

H.B. 765 (King) – Commercial Driver’s Licenses: would allow deferred disposition or driver safety course dismissal for a holder of a commercial driver’s license who violates a state law or local ordinance relating to motor vehicle control, so long as the individual was not operating a commercial motor vehicle and held a commercial driver’s license when the offense occurred.

H.B. 790 (Turner) – Driver Responsibility Program:  would repeal the state driver responsibility program.  (This bill is identical to H.B. 104 by L. Gonzales).

H.B. 793 (Lozano) – Transport of Undocumented Persons: would create a criminal offense for a person who transports an undocumented person in a manner that is designed to conceal the undocumented person from local, state, or federal law enforcement authorities.

S.B. 263 (Huffman) – Synthetic Derivative of Marihuana:   would designate certain additional synthetic cannabinoids as controlled substances and controlled substance analogues under the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

S.B. 264 (Huffman) – Synthetic Hallucinogens:  would add a synthetic hallucinogenic substance (commonly known as 25I) to Penalty Group 2 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

S.B. 271 (Seliger) – Child Passenger Safety Seat: would repeal the defense in the Transportation Code that allows a defendant to provide evidence that the defendant possesses an appropriate child passenger safety seat system for each child required to be secured.

S.B. 299 (Estes) – Unlawful Carrying of Handgun: would amend Penal Code language to provide that it is unlawful to display a handgun in plain view of another person in a public place in a manner calculated to cause alarm and not pursuant to a justified use of force or threat of force. 

UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT

H.B. 648 (Farias) – Disposal of Equipment: would prohibit a person from discarding or disposing of computer equipment or covered television equipment at a municipal solid waste facility, but would not impose any obligation on an owner or operator of a solid waste facility. 

H.B. 711 (Murphy) – Electric Rate Cases:  would provide that a city or the Texas Railroad Commission, when computing an electric utility’s federal income tax expenses in a rate case, must include with an allowable expense or investment the applicable reduction in income tax liability. 

H.B. 788 (W. Smith) – Greenhouse Gas Emissions: would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to, in accordance with federal law, adopt a program for issuing permits that include the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. 

S.B. 4 (Fraser) – State Water Plan Funding:  would provide:  (1) that the Texas Water Development Board is composed of three, rather than six, members who serve on a full-time basis; (2) for various changes to certain administrative provisions relating to the board; (3) the state water implementation fund for Texas is created as a special fund outside the state treasury; (4) that the fund consists of: (a) money transferred or deposited to the credit of the fund by law; (b) the proceeds of any fee or tax imposed by this state that the legislature by statute dedicates for deposit to the credit of the fund; (c) any other revenue that the legislature by statute dedicates for deposit to the credit of the fund; and (d) interest earned on the balance of the fund; (5) that the Texas Water Development Board (board) may use money in the fund only to provide financing for certain projects included in the state water plan; (6) that not less than 10 percent of the money from the fund used by the board in any state fiscal biennium must be used to finance projects that are designed to serve rural areas and not less than 10 percent of the money must be used to finance water conservation or reuse; (7) that the board may direct the comptroller to transfer amounts from the fund to the credit of: (a) the water infrastructure fund to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (b) the rural water assistance fund to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (c) the Texas Water Development Fund II state participation account to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (d) the agricultural water conservation fund to be used for projects included in the state water plan; or (e) the Texas Water Development Fund II economically distressed areas program account to be used for projects included in the state water plan; (8) that the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee is created and is composed of members appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, the lieutenant governor, and the governor; (9) that the advisory committee shall submit recommendations to the board regarding the use of money in the fund for use by the board; and (10) that the board shall use those recommendations to adopt rules providing for the use of money in the fund, including rules: (a) establishing standards for the eligibility for financing of projects designed to serve rural areas and water conservation and reuse projects; and (b) specifying the manner for prioritizing projects based on whether the project will have a major effect across a region or will serve an area that is projected to experience a high rate of population or economic growth.

S.B. 235 (Fraser) – Regional Water Authorities:  would, among other things, provide that: (1) two or more governmental entities may submit a petition to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requesting the creation of a regional authority for water infrastructure projects; (2) if TCEQ determines that creation of the authority satisfies the criteria adopted by TCEQ under the bill, TCEQ shall issue an order creating the authority and notify the petitioners; (3) an authority's territory is the combined territory of its member entities; (4) an authority may, among other things, study, evaluate, design, finance, acquire, construct, maintain, repair, and operate water projects, individually or as one or more water systems; (5) an authority may enter into an agreement with one or more persons to provide, on terms and conditions approved by the authority, personnel and services to design, construct, operate, maintain, expand, enlarge, or extend the water project of the authority; (6) if authorized at an election held for that purpose, an authority may impose an operation and maintenance tax on taxable property in the authority: (7) an authority, by bond resolution, may authorize the issuance of bonds to pay all or part of the cost of a water project, to refund any bonds previously issued for the water project, or to pay for all or part of the cost of a water project that will become a part of another water system; and (8) various administrative procedures apply to an authority.

S.B. 272 (Seliger) – Groundwater Conservation Districts:  would provide, among other things: (1) that a groundwater conservation district shall require that records be kept and reports be made of the drilling, equipping, and completing of water wells and of the production and use of groundwater; (2) a district may adopt rules, consistent with rules adopted by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) under the bill, that require an owner or operator of a water well that is required to be registered with or permitted by the district, including a domestic use well, to report groundwater withdrawals; (3) TWDB, after consulting with representatives of districts regarding reasonable and appropriate reporting methods and frequency of reporting, shall adopt rules requiring the owner or operator of a well to report groundwater withdrawals; and (4) TWDB may exempt domestic, and certain other, wells from the reporting requirements.

S.B. 291 (Nelson) – Utilities:  would provide that: (1) a gas utility or a municipally owned utility that has an easement in or a right-of-way over or through real property must give written notice to the owner or person in possession of the property before a member, agent, or employee of the utility may enter the property for utility business; (2) the utility must give the notice not later than the fifth day before the date of entry; (3) certain exceptional situations do not require the notice; and (4) the Texas Railroad Commission may impose an administrative penalty of up to $200 per violation on a person who fails to give the notice required by the bill.

TRANSPORTATION

H.B. 782 (Phillips) – Transportation Funding:  would provide that, from 2015 through 2024, certain revenue derived from the state sales tax imposed on the sale of a motor vehicle sold in this state shall be deposited at an increasing rate to the credit of the state highway fund. (Note:  Please see H.J.R. 68, below.)(Companion bill is S.B. 287 by Nichols.) 

H.J.R. 68 (Phillips) – Transportation Funding:  would provide that the net revenue derived from the state sales tax imposed on the sale of a motor vehicle sold in this state, minus certain school funding allocations, shall be deposited to the credit of the state highway fund.  (Note:  Please see H.B. 782, above.)(Companion bill is S.J.R. 20 by Nichols.) 

S.B. 287 (Nichols) – Transportation Funding:  this bill is the same as H.B. 782, above.

S.J.R. 20 (Nichols) – Transportation Funding:  this bill is the same as H.J.R. 68, above.

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.

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