CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

PROPERTY TAX

H.B. 826 (Harless) – Property Tax:  would limit the types of individuals who qualify as heavy equipment inventory dealers for purposes of the property taxes imposed on heavy equipment inventory. 

H.B. 835 (Eiland) – Property Tax:  would provide that a replacement structure for a structure that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by casualty or by wind or water damage is not considered to be a new improvement for property tax appraisal cap purposes if a building code, fire code, local ordinance, or government assistance program requires: (1) the square footage of the replacement structure to exceed that of the replaced structure; or (2) the exterior of the replacement structure be of higher quality construction and composition than that of the replaced structure.

H.B. 862 (S. King) – Property Tax:  would provide that an individual who qualifies for a senior or disabled property tax freeze and subsequently qualifies a different residence for a residence homestead property tax exemption in the same city may only have a limited amount of the exemption applied to the subsequently qualified homestead unless certain conditions are met.

H.B. 943 (Riddle) – Property Tax:  would require the governing body of a taxing unit to waive penalties and interest on a delinquent tax if the taxpayer, guardian of the taxpayer, attorney in fact or agent under a durable power of attorney, or representative of a taxpayer’s estate submits evidence to show that: (1) a licensed physician has diagnosed the taxpayer with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia before the tax became delinquent; (2) the tax was paid not later than the second anniversary of the date the tax became delinquent; and (3) the disease or dementia caused or resulted in the taxpayer’s failure to pay the tax before delinquency.

S.B. 359 (Hinojosa) – Property Tax:  would allow junior college districts to participate in the appointment of members of the board of directors of an appraisal district.

SALES TAX

H.B. 854 (Lucio) – Sales Tax:  would exempt books purchased by university and college students from sales taxes if purchased during a specified time period each semester. 

H.B. 896 (Menendez) – Sales Tax:  would require the comptroller to transfer to the appropriate Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)  accounts amounts from sporting goods sales tax proceeds sufficient to fund the employee benefits of TPWD employees.

H.B. 902 (M. Gonzalez) – Sales Tax:  would exempt the sale, use, or consumption of a book or magazine from sales and use taxes if the book or magazine: (1) is written for educational, instructional, or pedagogical purposes; and (2) is purchased by a student enrolled at an institution of higher education or a private or independent college or university.

H.J.R. 74 (Raymond) – Sales Tax:  would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that the legislature may not enact a general law that would impose a new, prospective state tax on the sale or use of any food, drink, or medicine.

S.B. 305 (Rodriguez) – Sales Tax:  would provide that the sale, use, or installation of a solar energy device that is installed on a retail customer’s side of the meter is exempted from sales and use taxes.

S.B. 342 (Estes) – Sales Tax: would provide that the sale of a “WaterSense product” (a product that has been designated as a WaterSense certified product under the WaterSense program operated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or a similar successor program) is exempted from sales taxes for the period beginning on Memorial Day and ending on the last Monday in May.  (Companion bill is H.B. 178 by Larson.)

S.B. 372 (Lucio) – Sales Tax:  would give the comptroller exclusive jurisdiction to interpret the state statute exempting property used in manufacturing from sales and use taxes. 

ELECTIONS

H.B. 816 (S. Davis) – Elections: would provide that the published notice of an election may provide the address of an Internet website that lists the location of each polling place rather than listing each polling place. 

H.B. 881 (Turner) – Elections: would allow a person to bring suit in district court against the person’s employer, including a governmental entity, for prohibiting or penalizing the act of voting.

H.B. 927 (Miller) – Voter Registration: would, among other things: (1) make the submittal of a voter registration application of a non-United States citizen a state jail felony; and (2) add eligibility requirements for a volunteer deputy registrar.

H.B. 961 (Sanford) – Bond Elections:  would require a city to include in a ballot proposition seeking voter approval of the issuance of bonds language that lists the total debt owed, stated as a total amount and as a per capita amount for the city population, and any surplus funds held by the city on the first day of the fiscal year in which the election is held. 

H.B. 966 (Murphy) – Voter Registration: would provide that, with certain exceptions, a voter’s residence is established by the address: (1) the person claims as a homestead; (2) stated on an unexpired driver’s license issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS); (3) stated on an unexpired personal identification card issued by DPS; (4) stated on an unexpired license to carry a concealed handgun issued by DPS; and (5) corresponding to a residence at which the person receives mail that is not a commercial post office box or similar location.

H.B. 983 (Elkins) – Temporary Election Officers: would provide that a political subdivision’s temporary election worker, officer, or official is not subject to the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act.

H.B. 985 (Elkins) – Elections: would, among other things, extend the deadline for conducting the local canvass for an election held on the November uniform election date.

H.B. 986 (Elkins) – Elections: would provide that, for an election in which a mail ballot is required to be printed in a language other than English: (1) the applicant may indicate his preferred language; and (2) if this applicant does not indicate his preferred language, the ballot will be delivered in English.

S.B. 315 (Uresti) – Voter Registration: would create a program to allow a person to complete a voter registration application over the Internet from the official website of the state and the websites of the secretary of state, the Department of Public Safety, and/or counties participating in the program.

OPEN GOVERNMENT

H.B. 889 (Fallon) – Meetings on the Internet: would: (1) require a county, school district, or home-rule city with a population of 50,000 or more to broadcast each regularly-scheduled open meeting over the Internet and make archived video and audio of those meetings available; and (2) allow the broadcast and archive described in (1), above, to be broadcast over an existing Internet site, including a public accessible video-sharing or social network site.

H.B. 919 (Fletcher) – Vehicle Location Information:  would except from public disclosure information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that relates to the location of a vehicle used for law enforcement if:  (1) the information would directly or indirectly reveal the physical location of or route used by a peace officer or vehicle operated by a peace officer; or (2) the law enforcement agency determines that the release of the information may create a hazard to a peace officer, the public, or another person.

H.B. 973 (Capriglione) – Public Retirement System Records:  would:  (1) take away a public retirement system’s discretion to determine whether a record is confidential information; (2) provide that the bill’s provisions regarding confidentiality of information held by a public retirement system prevail over any conflicting law; and (3) repeal the provision of the Public Information Act providing that records of individual members, annuitants, retirees, beneficiaries, alternate payees, program participants, or persons eligible for benefit from a retirement system are confidential. 

H.B. 987 (Marquez) – Public Information Act:  would add motor vehicle title or registration information to the list of confidential motor vehicle records that a governmental body can redact under the Public Information Act without requesting a decision from the attorney general.

S.B. 394 (West) – Juvenile Records:  would provide that records and files relating to a child who has received a dismissal after deferral of disposition for a misdemeanor offense punishable by fine only (other than a traffic offense) are confidential and may not be disclosed, except in relation to required school notifications.

OTHER FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION BILLS

H.B. 858 (Lucio) – Euthanasia:  would: (1) prohibit an animal shelter from euthanizing a dog or cat by administering compressed carbon monoxide; and (2) require the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, rather than the State Board of Health, to adopt rules regarding the use of compressed carbon monoxide to euthanize animals other than dogs or cats.

H.B. 865 (J. Davis) – Insurance Premiums:  would remove the requirement to create a single nonprofit trust to be eligible for an municipal exemption from the tax on group health, accident, and life insurance premiums for its officers, employees, retirees, and their independents.  (Note:  Under current law, a city must establish a single, nonprofit trust to take advantage of this exemption.) 

H.B. 880 (Turner) – Alcoholic Beverage Permits: would:  (1) require that a person holding a permit to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption maintain liability insurance that will pay for damages arising out of the sale or service of alcoholic beverages; and (2) require the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to adopt rules relating to the insurance policy providing, among other things, at least $500,000 in coverage per person and $1 million per occurrence giving rise to damages covered under the policy.

H.B. 886 (Anchia) – Motor Vehicle Title Loans: would provide that: (1) motor vehicle title loans may not exceed 70 percent of the retail value of the vehicle; (2) refinanced payments or installments payments on a motor vehicle title loan must be paid in certain amounts; and (3) the credit access business that provides the loan is limited in the types of fees that can be imposed upon a borrower. 

H.B. 888 (Sheets) – Roofing Contractors:  would provide: (1) that a person may not perform or offer to perform roofing services unless the person holds a certificate issued by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; (2) detailed procedures and penalties; (3) that an authorized employee or representative of a city is exempt from the bill’s requirements; and (4) that the bill is not intended to conflict with or affect the authority of any state or local agency, board, or department that administers or enforces any law or ordinance or that establishes, administers, or enforces a policy, rule, qualification, or standard for a trade or profession.  (Companion bill is S.B. 311 by Carona.)

S.B. 311 (Carona) – Roofing Contractors:  this bill is the same as H.B. 888, above.

S.B. 318 (Uresti) – Hotel Occupancy Tax:  would limit the hotel occupancy tax exemption for “permanent residents” to stays of longer than 90 days. (Note:  current law requires stays of longer than 30 days.)

S.B. 319 (Uresti) – Hotel Occupancy Tax:  would limit the application of the hotel occupancy exemption for permanent residents to “an individual” and not “a person.” (Note: the Texas Code Construction Act provides that the use of the word “person” includes a corporation or other legal entity.)

S.B. 360 (Watson) – Euthanasia:  this bill is the same as H.B. 858, above.

S.B. 392 (West) – Litigation:  would require a party who challenges the constitutionality of a statute to serve notice on the attorney general if the attorney general is not a party to or counsel involved in the litigation.

S.J.R. 24 (Watson) – State Fee Diversions: would amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit the legislature from diverting statutorily-dedicated revenues for other purposes.

MUNICIPAL COURTS

H.B. 823 (Anchia) – Magistrates: would require a magistrate to inform an arrestee that, if the person is not a citizen of the United States, a plea of guilty or no contest for the offense charged may affect the person’s immigration or residency status and may result in deportation. (Companion bill is S.B. 361 by Watson.)

H.B. 933 (Turner) – Juvenile Expunctions: would automatically entitle a person to have the person's juvenile record expunged after the person's 17th birthday if the person: (1) has completed a deferred prosecution program; and (2) was not referred to the juvenile justice system for any other delinquent conduct before the person's 17th birthday that resulted in adjudication or deferred adjudication.  The bill would also create an offense for a person who: (1) acquires knowledge of a deferred prosecution of a juvenile and disseminates it; or (2) is ordered by a court to return identifying portions of a record or file ordered expunged and knowingly fails to return or destroy the record or file. 

S.B. 361 (Watson) – Magistrates: this bill is the same as H.B. 823, above.  

S.B. 389 (West) – Court Costs: would require the amount of court costs imposed on the defendant in a criminal proceeding to be the amount established under the law in effect on the date the defendant is convicted of the offense. 

S.B. 393 (West) – Juvenile Offenders:  would, among other things:  (1) authorize a municipal court, with approval of the city council, to enter into an interlocal agreement to jointly employ a case manager to provide services in cases involving juvenile offenders who are referred by a school administrator or designee before a complaint is filed with a court for certain school offenses; (2) authorize a municipal court, with approval of the city council, to employ one or more juvenile case managers to provide prevention and early intervention services to juveniles considered at-risk of dropping out of school and referred to the case manager by school administrators before cases are filed with the court for alleged Class C misdemeanors (other than traffic offenses); (3) require that a municipal court dismiss a truancy complaint or referral made by a school district if the complaint is not filed correctly by the school district; (4) prohibit a peace officer from issuing a citation to a child who is alleged to have committed, among other things, a class C misdemeanor disorderly conduct offense on the property of a school district; (5) allow a law enforcement officer to dispose of the case of a child accused of a class C misdemeanor offense (other than a traffic offense) without filing a complaint in criminal court if certain requirements are met; and (6) provide that a child accused of a class C misdemeanor (other than a traffic offense) may be referred to a first offender program if certain requirements are met.

S.B. 395 (West) – Fines and Court Costs:  would:  (1) require that a municipal court allow a child defendant to choose to discharge a fine or cost by either paying the fine or cost as allowed under current law or by performing community service; (2) require that the defendant’s choice under (1), above, be made in writing, signed by the defendant or the defendant’s parent, guardian, or managing conservator, and entered in the record; and (3) allow a court to waive payment of a fine or cost imposed on a defendant who defaults in payment if the court determines that the defendant is a child and discharging the fine or cost in an alternative method, including performing community service, would impose an undue hardship.

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC  DEVELOPMENT

H.B. 910 (Kolkhorst) – Regulation of Farmers Markets:  would require any permit issued for an individual who sells food at a farmers market to: (1) be valid for at least a year; (2) cost less than $50 each; and (3) cover sales at all locations within the permitting authority’s jurisdiction.

H.B. 954 (Button) – E-Verify:  would prohibit a governmental entity, including a city, from awarding an economic development incentive to a business that does not participate in E-verify.

H.B. 970 (E. Rodriguez) – Cottage Food Regulation:  would: (1) prohibit a city, local governmental entity, or a local health department, from regulating a cottage food production operation; (2) prohibit a city or county from using its zoning authority to prohibit a home from being used as a cottage food production operation; (3) allow a private nuisance actions against such an operation; and (4) expand the definition of cottage food production operation to include additional products produced at an individual’s home, including candy, dried fruit, and snacks.

PERSONNEL

H.B. 950 (Thompson) – 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 to include every instance an individual is paid based on a past discriminatory decision made by an employer; and (2) allow back pay and benefit damages for up to two years preceding the date of filing a complaint for pay discrimination. 

S.B. 341 (J. Rodriguez) – 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.  (Companion bill is H.B. 731 by Raymond.)

S.B. 366 (L. Taylor) – Retirement Benefits :  would authorize a city to: (1) establish a Roth IRA program for its employees; and (2) develop procedures to allow retirement plan vendors to lend money to a participating employee. 

S.B. 399 (Hancock) – Personnel :  would allow an employer, including a city, to create an ombudsman program for employees that provides an alternative dispute resolution service to help employees resolve workplace disputes.

PUBLIC SAFETY

H.B. 848 (Lucio) – Uninsured Motor Vehicle:  would: (1) require a peace officer to impound the vehicle of a person who operates a vehicle without insurance and is involved in an accident; (2) require a peace officer to provide written notice of impoundment under (1), above, to the owner as to how the owner may recover the vehicle; (3) require a law enforcement agency to send notice of impoundment to both the last known registered owner and lienholder of the vehicle if the person operating the vehicle is not the owner; (4) allow a law enforcement agency to release the vehicle to the owner only if the owner: (a) provides certain kinds of evidence to the law enforcement agency; (b) claims the vehicle within 60 days after it is impounded; and (c) pays for the cost of the impoundment; (5) allow a law enforcement agency to release the vehicle to a recorded lienholder if the owner of the vehicle does not comply with (4), above, and the lienholder pays for the impoundment and presents certain types of information to the law enforcement agency; (6) provide that if a lienholder does not take possession of the motor vehicle pursuant to (5), above, the lienholder forfeits any interest in the vehicle and the law enforcement agency may auction the vehicle; and (6) provide that a law enforcement agency that impounds a vehicle may auction the vehicle if the owner does not comply with (4), above, and there is no lienholder.

H.B. 884 (Murphy) – Seized Property:  would:  (1) authorize a peace officer who seizes property at the time the owner of the property is arrested for a class C misdemeanor offense to give the owner written notice that – if the property remains unclaimed after 31 days after the owner signs the notice – the property will be disposed of; and (2) require a peace officer who gives the notice described in (1), above, to deliver any unclaimed property to a person designated by the city who shall sell or donate the property and deposit any proceeds to the treasury of the city. 

H.B. 912 (Gooden) – Surveillance:would make it a class C misdemeanor for a person to use or authorize the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or occupies the real property captured in the image, unless the image is captured: (1) pursuant to a valid search or arrest warrant, (2) by a law enforcement officer in immediate pursuit of a person suspected of committing a felony, (3) for the purpose of fire suppression or rescuing a person whose life is in imminent danger, (4) within 25 miles of the United States border for the sole purpose of enforcing border laws, (5) without magnification or other enhancement from not more than six feet above ground in a public place, or (6) on public real property. 

H.B. 917 (Walle) – Police Training:  would require a peace officer who is a school resource officer or school district peace officer to complete a 24-hour education and training program before being allowed to work as a school resource officer or school security personnel for longer than 90 days.

H.B. 928 (Krause) – Firearms:  would prohibit the state or a political subdivision of the state from contracting with or in any other manner providing assistance to a federal agency or official with respect to the enforcement of a federal statute, rule, or regulation purporting to regulate a firearm, a firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition that remains exclusively within the borders of this state if the statute, order, rule, or regulation imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation that does not exist under the laws of this state. 

H.B. 942 (King) – Crafted Precious Metal Dealers:  would:  (1) delete scrap or broken items selling at five percent or more of the scrap value from the definition of the term “crafted precious metal;” (2) require that a dealer record certain information in relation to crafted precious metal transactions and authorize a chief of police to receive the record by electronic submission; (3) prohibit a dealer from purchasing crafted precious metal from a person younger than 18 years; (4) prohibit a dealer from purchasing, other than from a manufacturer or dealer, a crafted precious metal object that has been defaced, altered, or broken; and (5) provide certain criminal penalties.

H.B. 956 (Isaac) – Noise:  would: (1) provide that a noise is presumed to be unreasonable if, after the person making the noise receives notice from a magistrate or peace officer that the noise is a public nuisance, it exceeds 85 decibels or 70 decibels if the noise is made in an unincorporated area during the nighttime and emanates from a device that produces, amplifies, or projects music or other sound; and (2) define “nighttime” for purposes of (1), above, to mean the period beginning at 11 p.m. on Friday or Saturday or at 10 p.m. on any other day and ending immediately before 6 a.m. on the following day.

H.B. 975 (Raymond) – Emergency Medical Services :  would require a private emergency medical services provider to receive a certificate of local need and necessity based on specified criteria from a city or county before providing services within that geographic region. 

H.B. 978 (Raymond) – Transportation of a Committed Patient: would remove the authority of a court to authorize a relative or other responsible person who has a proper interest in the patient’s welfare to transport a committed patient to the designated mental health facility. 

S.B. 249 (Patrick) – Computer Crimes: would expand the offense of “breach of computer security” under the Penal Code to include a person accessing a computer, computer network, or computer system with the intent to obtain a benefit.

S.B. 335 (Rodriguez) – Red Light Cameras: would permit red light cameras at railroad crossings if the crossing meets certain requirements.

S.B. 343 (Estes) – Seized Property:  would:  (1) authorize a court to order, in certain instances, that a seized weapon be sold at a public sale or auction; (2) allow only a licensed firearms dealer to purchase a weapon at a public sale held under (1), above; and (3) require that the proceeds from the sale of a weapon be transferred, after the deduction of court and auction costs, to the law enforcement agency holding the weapon.

S.B. 367 (Whitmire) – Seized Property:  this bill is nearly identical to H.B. 884, above.

UTILITIES AND ENVIRONMENT

H.B. 824 (Callegari) – Accidental Discharges: would exempt an individual from notifying the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of an accidental discharge or spill of 1,500 gallons or less from a wastewater treatment facility or collection facility if the discharge or spill does not reach waters of the state.

H.B. 832 (Giddings) – Mosquito Abatement: would: (1) authorize a city, county, or local health authority to abate, without notice, certain collections of water in which mosquitoes are breeding that: (a) are located on residential property reasonably presumed to be abandoned or uninhabited due to foreclosure; and (b) are an immediate danger to the health, life, or safety of any person; (2) allow enforcement officials, agents, and employees to enter the premises described in (1), above, at a reasonable time to inspect, investigate, or abate the nuisance; (3) limit mosquito abatement described in (1), above, to treatment of stagnant water with a mosquito larvicide; and (4) require a notice on the front door stating the treating authority, the purpose and date of treatment, the area treated, the type of larvicide used, and the known risks of the larvicide to humans or animals.  (Companion bill is S.B. 186 by Corona.)

H.B. 857 (Lucio) – Water Loss Audits: would require all municipally owned utilities to perform and file with the Texas Water Development Board an annual water audit computing the utility’s system water loss during the preceding year.  (Note:  Current law requires only utilities that receive state aid to file such audits.)

H.B. 876 (Allen) – Solid Waste:  would require a solid waste permit application to include: (1) a certification from the applicant that an explanation of the site’s proposed operations and a questionnaire seeking community comments was mailed to each resident and community organization, nonprofit organization, or civic club within a certain distance of the proposed site; and (2) any comments made in response to the questionnaire.

H.B. 898 (Creighton) – Municipally Owned Electric Utility Power Lines: would, with respect to municipal power lines, provide that: (1) a "distribution line" means a power line operated below 60,000 volts when measured phase to phase, and a "transmission line" means a power line operated at 60,000 volts or more when measured phase to phase; and (2) distribution and transmission lines shall be constructed along highways and at other places in accordance with the national electrical safety code.

S.B. 302 (Seliger) – Groundwater Conservation Districts:  would, among other things, provide that a groundwater conservation district’s groundwater management plan requires approval by the Texas Water Development Board.

S.B. 325 (Carona) – Municipal Electric Rates: would, in addition to imposing many low income rate requirements on investor owned utilities, provide that until a municipally owned utility or electric cooperative implements customer choice the utility or cooperative may not reduce, in any manner, programs already offered to assist low-income electric customers. (Companion bill is H.B. 550 by Turner.) 

S.B. 327 (Carona) – State Cable Franchises: would modify the provisions of the state cable franchise law to comport with the recent federal court order in Texas Cable and Telecommunications Association v. P.U.C. Commissioners, which concluded that “grandfathering” of prior local cable franchise agreements is unconstitutional. 

TRANSPORTATION

S.B. 300 (Uresti) – Transportation Funding: would: (1) create the Transportation Infrastructure Fund to be supported by a partial diversion of the state’s oil and gas tax revenue; and (2) provide that the Texas Department of Transportation shall provide grants from the funds to counties for transportation infrastructure projects.

S.B. 309 (Paxton) – Transportation Funding: would provide that the comptroller shall deposit a certain portion of the sales tax on motor vehicle sales, new and used motor vehicle tires, and new and used motor vehicle parts to the credit of the state highway fund.  (Please see S.J.R. 25, below.)

S.J.R. 25 (Paxton) – Transportation Funding: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that a certain portion of the sales tax on motor vehicle sales, new and used motor vehicle tires, and new and used motor vehicle parts shall be used for the sole purpose of funding public roadways. (Please see S.B. 309, above.)

S.J.R. 26 (Estes) – Dedicated State Fee Diversions: would amend the Texas Constitution to, in increments beginning in 2015 and completed in 2018, prohibit the comptroller from using dedicated revenues to certify the state budget.

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