CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

H.B. 1379 (Y. Davis) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would require health benefit plans to provide coverage for HIV tests. (Companion bill is S.B. 877 by Ellis.)

H.B. 1380 (Y. Davis) – Mandatory Health Benefits: this bill is substantially the same as H.B. 1379, above.

H.B. 1383 (Y. Davis) – Public Information Act: would provide that: (1) the home address, home telephone number, social security number, or family member information of a current or former employee of a governing body or a current or formal official of the governing body is excepted from disclosure regardless of whether the individual elected to keep the information confidential; and (2) information that could compromise the safety of a public officer or employee is confidential if the individual applies to the governmental body’s public information officer and asserts that disclosure of certain information could compromise the individual’s safety, and the public information officer determines that the individual’s safety would be compromised if such information were released to the public. (Companion bill is S.B. 331 by Carona).

H.B. 1385 (Y. Davis) – Eminent Domain: would provide that the special commissioners in a condemnation proceeding shall admit evidence on the financial injury to the property owner including—if the condemnation makes relocation of a homestead or farm necessary—the financial damages associated with the cost of relocating from the condemned property to another property that allows the property owner, without the necessity of incurring additional debt, to: (1) have a standard of living comparable to the property owner's standard of living immediately before the condemnation; or (2) operate a comparable farm, if the condemned property is a farm.

H.B. 1389 (Y. Davis) – 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, or 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 permitting condemnation for urban renewal 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 provided in current law) be designated as blighted; (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) the special commissioners in a condemnation proceeding shall admit evidence on the financial injury to the property owner including—if the condemnation makes relocation of a homestead or farm necessary—the financial damages associated with the cost of relocating from the condemned property to another property that allows the property owner to: (a) have a standard of living comparable to the property owner's standard of living immediately before the condemnation; or (b) operate a comparable farm, if the condemned property is a farm; (7) 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 and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act; and (8) 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.

H.B. 1399 (Guillen) – Municipal Judges: would authorize a municipal judge to conduct an inquest into the death of a person who died in the city.

H.B. 1401 (Villarreal) – Property Tax: would do the following: (1) permit property owners to appeal equity matters through binding arbitration; (2) establish procedures for “expedited” appraisal arbitration that would limit argument and testimony by both sides to one hour in length; (3) permit an arbitrator to lower a property’s value to an amount less than the amount established by the appraisal review board (ARB) (Note: current law permits the arbitrator to award a lower value only if the amount determined by the arbitrator is closer to the property owner’s opinion as to the value than it is to the value determined by the ARB); (4) extend from 45 to 60 days the deadline for a property owner to judicially appeal a final appraisal; (5) provide that district courts may use, and shall give preference to, a “master in chancery” in determining judicial appeals of appraisals; (6) provide that a final appraisal order of a district court shall include mandatory mediation; (7) provide that in a district court appeal of appraised value, there is a rebuttable presumption against the consideration of comparable properties if the comparable would require an adjustment of more than 25 percent in value; and (8) prohibit property tax consultants from appearing at certain court proceedings and from soliciting clients for an attorney for the purpose of certain judicial appeals.

H.B. 1402 (Villarreal) – Taxes: would create a “select commission on periodic tax review” and a “joint legislative tax review,” both charged with periodically reviewing all state and local taxes and other revenue sources and making recommendations as to whether the taxes or revenue sources should be continued or repealed.

H.B. 1407 (Geren) – Property Tax: would: (1) provide that certain affidavits in support of a former property owner’s tax sale redemption claim are conclusive as to the facts they state; and (2) provide that a tax assessor-collector is not liable to any person for acting in reliance on such affidavits.

H.B. 1413 (Bohac) – Junked Vehicles: would change the definition of junked vehicle to include a vehicle that is missing an unexpired license plate or a valid motor vehicle inspection certificate.

H.B. 1414 (Bohac) – Elections: would: (1) require a voter to present to an election officer at the polling place a voter registration certificate and an acceptable form of identification; (2) modify the types of acceptable voter identification documents; (3) provide that a voter who presents a voter registration certificate indicating that the voter is currently registered in the precinct, but whose name is not on the precinct list of registered voters, shall be accepted for voting if the voter’s identity can be verified from the proof presented; and (4) provide for the acceptance of a provisional ballot only if the voter presents identification at the time the ballot was cast or within ten business days of the election.

H.B. 1417 (Leibowitz) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes the sale of solar or wind-powered renewable energy systems for installation at a farm or residential homestead.

H.B. 1418 (Rose) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would require a health benefit plan, including a plan issued by an intergovernmental risk pool, to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.

H.B. 1421 (Corte) – Municipal Court Fees: would permit a city less than 850,000 in population to use child safety court fees for general public safety and security programs. (Companion bill is S.B. 446 by Wentworth.)

H.B. 1424 (Leibowitz) – Disannexation: would: (1) provide that a petition for disannexation for failure to provide services may be submitted by a number of voters in an annexed area that equals more than 50 percent of the number of voters of the area who voted in the most recent municipal election; (2) require the city council to certify whether such a petition is valid; (3) provide that if the petition is certified as valid, the city shall disannex the area within 60 days after the date the petition is certified, unless within that period the city brings a cause of action in a district court to request that the area remain annexed; and (4) provide that the district court shall enter an order disannexing the area if the court finds that a valid petition was filed, unless the court finds the city performed its obligations in accordance with the service plan and state law.

H.B. 1431 (Bohac) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales tax certain renewable energy technology equipment and devices.

H.B. 1432 (Jackson) – Eminent Domain: would modify current-law procedures for the repurchase of condemned property by the original owner as follows:

  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 former owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns may be entitled to repurchase the property under the bill’s provisions or 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 former owner by the entity at the time the entity acquired the property through eminent domain.
  2. A person from whom property is acquired by eminent domain for a public use is entitled to repurchase the property 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 fifth anniversary of that date; or (c) the property becomes unnecessary for the public use for which the property was acquired.
  3. Define "actual progress" as the completion of two or more of the following actions: (a) the performance of a significant amount of labor to develop the property; (b) the furnishing of a significant amount of materials to develop the property; (c) the hiring of and performance of a significant amount of work by an architect, engineer, or surveyor to prepare a plan or plat that includes the property; (d) application for state or federal funds to develop the property; (e) voter approval of a proposition authorizing the issuance of bonds or other public securities or the issuance of revenue bonds related to funding the public use project for which the property was acquired; or (f) the acquisition of a tract or parcel of real property adjacent to the property for the same public use project for which the owner's property was acquired.
  4. Not later than the 180th day after the date a condemning entity determines that the former property owner is entitled to repurchase the property, the entity shall send by certified mail to the property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns a notice containing certain information.
  5. On or after the fifth anniversary of the date on which real property was acquired by an entity through eminent domain, a former 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, among other things, whether the public use for which the property was acquired has been canceled and whether any actual progress has been made toward the public use.
  6. Not later than the 90th day following the receipt of the request for information described in number 5, above, the entity shall send a written response by certified mail to the requestor.
  7. Not later than the 180th day after the date of the postmark on a notice described in number 4, above, or a response to a request described in number 5, above, that indicates that the former property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns is entitled to repurchase the property interest, the former property owner or the owner's heirs, successors, or assigns must notify the entity of the person's intent to repurchase the property interest.
  8. 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.
  9. The person's right to repurchase the property expires on the 90th day after the date on which the entity makes the offer.

H.B. 1433 (Lucio) – Water Quality Fees: would increase the cap on the annual water quality fee imposed on a city by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from $75,000 to $200,000.

H.B. 1439 (Bolton) – Transportation Funding: would provide that a toll project entity may not finance any part of the construction of a toll project using county or municipal bond proceeds unless the use of the proceeds for the construction of the project was specifically listed in the ballot proposition to authorize the bonds.

H.B. 1443 (Hancock) – Fire/Police Civil Service: would provide that the civil service provision in Chapter 143 of the Local Government Code that prohibits a person who is 36 years of age or older from filling a beginning position in a civil service fire department does not apply in a city with a population of 25,000 or less.

H.B. 1451 (Rodriguez) – Hotel Occupancy Tax: would permit the expenditure of hotel occupancy tax revenues on affordable housing.

H.B. 1465 (Paxton) – Property Tax: would do the following: (1) require a city to join into a tax collection lawsuit a third-party transferee of a tax lien (typically known as a “mortgage lender”); (2) permit the mortgage lender to file for foreclosure; (3) as an alternative to number 2 above, permit the mortgage lender to pay all taxes and interest owed to the city, thereafter requiring the city to enter a disclaimer in the tax suit; and (4) after transfer of the lien or the filing of a disclaimer, permit the mortgage lender to foreclose on the property even if payment on any loan made by the mortgage lender to the property owner isn’t delinquent.

H.B. 1478 (Bohac) – Debt Collection: would provide that a person who provides necessary medical treatment for a life-threatening condition and who furnishes information to a consumer reporting agency regarding an amount owed by the patient shall be liable to the patient for: (1) the greater of three times the amount of actual damages or $1000; (2) reasonable attorney’s fees; and (3) court costs. (Companion bill is S.B. 977 by Ellis).

H.B. 1483 (Pitts) – Eminent Domain: would make various changes to eminent domain laws, including (among other things) the following: (1) define a “public use” as one that allows the state, a political subdivision, or the general public to possess, occupy, and enjoy the property, including the specifically-enumerated public projects in current law; (2) provide that a governmental entity may not take private property through the use of eminent domain if the taking: (a) confers a private benefit on a particular private party through the use of the property; (b) is for a public use that is merely a pretext to confer a private benefit on a particular private party; (c) is for economic development purposes, unless the economic development is a secondary purpose resulting from municipal community development or municipal urban renewal activities, or (d) is not for a public use as defined by the bill; (3) require a record vote with specific wording to take each parcel of land through the use of eminent domain; (4) require an entity that wants to acquire real property for a public use to make a “bona fide offer” to acquire the property voluntarily, and to certify in the condemnation petition that the offer was made; (5) define “bona fide offer” as one that is not arbitrary or capricious and is based on a reasonably thorough investigation and honest assessment of the amount of the just compensation due to the landowner as a result of the taking; (6) provide that if a court finds that a condemnor failed to make a bona fide offer, the court shall abate the suit and order that an offer be made; (7) provide that if a court finds that a condemnor filed frivolous pleadings, the condemnor shall pay the property owner’s costs and attorney’s fees; (8) change the evidentiary standard used for determining market value to mean “the price a property will bring when offered for sale by a person who desires to sell the property, but is not obliged to sell the property, and is bought by a person who desires to buy the property, but is not under a necessity to buy the property”; (9) provide that the special commissioners shall admit, subject to the Texas Rules of Evidence, evidence on the market value of the property before the condemnation and the net change in market value to the remaining property, considering both injury and benefit to the property owner; (10) for individuals or entities displaced by eminent domain, require a city to provide a relocation advisory service that is compatible with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance Advisory Program; (11) require a city, as a cost of acquiring real property, to 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; (12) modify the current provisions that allow a property owner to repurchase the property if it isn’t used by the condemnor within ten years of the condemnation by providing that the repurchase price is the price paid to the condemnee at the time the property was condemned, and provide that the right is activated if the condemnor fails to begin the operation or construction of the project in the ten-year period; (13) add additional court costs in a condemnation proceeding; (14) provide that a person whose property is taken by eminent domain for an easement may construct streets or roads up to 40 feet wide over the easement; and (15) provide that, for property condemned for the state highway system or a county toll project, the special commissioners shall consider any diminished access to the highway and to or from the remaining property to the extent that it affects the present market value of the real property. (Note: this bill is the same as H.B. 402 by Woolley.)

H.B. 1491 (Driver) – Law Enforcement: would exempt police chiefs or other chief administrators of a law enforcement agency from the regulations of the Private Security Act.

H.B. 1493 (T. King) – Elections: would allow a person who is employed at the location at which a polling place is located to use a wireless communication device if the use of the device is in connection with the person’s employment.

H.B. 1511 (Otto) – Fire Sprinklers: would provide that: (1) a requirement of the state or a political subdivision that an automatic fire sprinkler system be installed in a new one-family or two-family dwelling may not be enforced with respect to a dwelling under 7,500 square feet in size; (2) a prospective owner of a one-family or two-family dwelling under 7,500 square feet in size in a jurisdiction in which an automatic fire sprinkler system would otherwise be required may choose whether or not to have the system installed; (3) a builder in a jurisdiction in which an automatic fire sprinkler system is required to be installed in any new one-family or two-family dwelling shall offer a person with whom the builder contracts for the construction of a new one-family or two-family dwelling under 7,500 square feet in size the option of installing an approved automatic fire sprinkler system in accordance with the International Residential Code; and (4) the bill does not apply to a state requirement or an ordinance or order of a political subdivision adopted before January 1, 2009.

H.B. 1513 (W. Smith) – Construction Contracts: would provide that the Texas Construction Fund Trust Act applies to a public construction contract, regardless of whether the contract is covered by a statutory or common law payment bond. (Note: The Texas Construction Trust Fund Act provides that any funds paid to a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier are held in trust for all parties in the construction chain. It is generally designed to protect subcontractors and suppliers from the default of a general contractor. This bill would overturn a recent court decision, Dealers Electrical Supply Company v. Scoggins Construction Company, Inc., which held that a supplier’s only remedy is under a performance or payment bond.)

H.B. 1526 (Crownover) – Gas Pipelines: would provide that a common purchaser (e.g., a gas pipeline company or gas purchaser) has the right to lay and maintain a pipeline over, under, across, and along a public road or a municipal street or alley; and (2) a common purchaser may exercise authority under the bill in relation to a municipal street or alley only with the consent of and subject to the direction of the governing body of the city.

H.B. 1531 (Bolton) – Court Fines: would increase from $50 to $75 the fee charged to a defendant when a police officer is required to execute or process an arrest warrant, capias, or capias pro fine.

H.B. 1534 (Burnam) – Eminent Domain: would provide that: (1) a governmental entity with eminent domain authority that acquires property for public use or a person with eminent domain authority that produces, gathers, transports, distributes, or sells natural gas (both defined as a “person” under the bill) who wants to use eminent domain authority to acquire real property shall provide, by certified mail, to the property owner a copy of any and all existing appraisal reports produced or acquired by the person; (2) a property owner shall provide to the acquiring person a copy of any and all existing appraisal reports produced or acquired by the property owner relating specifically to the owner's property and used in determining an opinion regarding value; (3) the property owner shall provide each copy within 10 days of receipt of appraisal reports but no later than 10 days prior to the special commissioner's hearing; (4) the initial offer to purchase made by the acquiring person must also include: (a) a copy of the section of law detailing the information in numbers 1-3, above, (b) a written estimate of the fair market value of the property the acquiring person is offering to acquire or lease and the amount of damages to the property owner's remaining property, if any, that will result from the acquisition or lease; and (c) a statement that the property owner has a right to make a written request to the acquiring person for an appraisal of the property, at the acquiring person's expense, and information described in number 5, below, regarding transactions involving the acquiring person for property the acquiring person intends to use for a similar purpose; and (5) on a property owner's written request, the acquiring person shall disclose each appraisal report completed, offer to purchase or lease made, and negotiated purchase or lease price paid by the acquiring person for property acquired or leased by the acquiring person for a purpose related to the purpose for which the acquiring person seeks to acquire or lease the property owner's property and that is adjacent to the property owner's property.

H.B. 1535 (Burnam) – Gas Pipelines: would, in certain populous counties located over the Barnett Shale, prevent a gas corporation from using eminent domain for the purpose of constructing a gas pipeline unless the gas corporation applies for and receives a permit from the Railroad Commission of Texas that authorizes the pipeline and the route of the pipeline.

H.B. 1536 (Burnam) – Gas Pipelines: would provide that a gas corporation may not condemn or appropriate property for a project related to constructing a gathering or transmission pipeline for transporting gas for a single producer in certain populous counties located over the Barnett Shale.

H.B. 1537 (Burnam) – Gas Pipelines: would impose certain safety requirements on gas pipelines in certain populous counties located over the Barnett Shale.

H.B. 1538 (Burnam) – Gas Pipelines: would provide that certain cities in certain populous counties located over the Barnett Shale may impose safety requirements regarding gas pipelines.

H.B. 1544 (Miklos) – Municipal Court: would require a municipal court to dispose of a case without requiring any additional appearance by the defendant if the defendant mails or delivers in person a plea of guilty or no contest or a waiver of jury trial at any time before the date on which the trial is to begin.

H.B. 1545 (Miklos) –Fire/Police Civil Service: would amend Chapter 143 of the Local Government Code to provide that: (1) if a civil service commission finds that a period of disciplinary suspension should be reduced, the commission may order a reduction in the period of suspension; and (2) if the commission or a hearing examiner orders that a suspended firefighter or police officer be restored to the position or class of service from which the person was suspended, the firefighter or police officer is entitled to immediate reinstatement to the position or class of service from which the person was suspended, notwithstanding any action filed in a court by the city or department head challenging the commission's decision. (Companion bill is S.B. 1045 by Gallegos.)

H.B. 1546 (Creighton) – Property Tax: would permit the commissioners court of Montgomery County to call a county-wide election to lower the residential property tax appraisal cap for all taxing units in the county from ten percent to a percentage of not less than three percent. (Note: please see H.J.R. 67, below).

H.B. 1547 (Creighton) – Property Tax: would: (1) require every appraisal district to operate an Internet Web site; and (2) require the district to post on the Web site information relating to homestead exemptions, the right to inspect records, and the appraisal methodology used by the district.

H.B. 1548 (Creighton) – Property Tax: would permit the commissioners court of a county to require that each member of an appraisal district board of directors must: (1) be a resident of the district; (2) be an elected official of a taxing unit in the district; and (3) have resided in the district for at least two years before taking office.

H.B. 1556 (Ortiz) – Public Safety: would direct the Texas Department of Public Safety to create a system for cities to issue local public health and public safety alerts through the existing system of dynamic message signs.

H.B. 1558 (Martinez Fischer) – Graffiti: would: (1) require a court to order a defendant convicted of a graffiti offense to make restitution to the victim; (2) make changes to the way in which graffiti restitution may be made; (3) require a court granting probation for a graffiti offense to require community service as a condition; and (4) require a juvenile court to bar a child found to have engaged in a graffiti offense from receiving a driver's license for a certain period.

H.B. 1560 (Aycock) – Irrigation Systems: would remove the requirement that certain cities must require a permit for irrigation systems built in the city's ETJ.

H.B. 1566 (England) – Natural Gas Facilities: would provide that: (1) the governing body of a city by ordinance may adopt zoning regulations applicable to natural gas compressor stations; (2) in adopting zoning such regulations, the governing body shall consider the proximity of the station's location to residential areas, the height and size of the station relative to surrounding improvements, the aesthetic compatibility of the station with the surrounding area, and compliance with the municipality's comprehensive plan; (3) the governing body by ordinance may adopt safety standards applicable to natural gas compressor stations by agreement with or through certification from the United States Department of Transportation as provided by the federal Pipeline Safety Act; and (4) to the extent consistent with federal law, the governing body of a municipality by ordinance may adopt safety standards applicable only to aboveground features of natural gas compressor stations without entering into an agreement or obtaining certification.

H.B. 1575 (Isett) – Property Tax: would do the following: (1) provide that homestead exemptions are effective on January 1 of the tax year in which the person qualifies for the exemption; (2) extend from one year to five years the deadline for filing certain late homestead exemptions; (3) limit property tax appraisals to an amount based on the current use of the property rather than the potential “highest and best use” use of the property; (4) require appraisal notices to include additional comparative information based on the past five years of appraisal history; (5) lower the property tax rollback rate from eight percent to five percent; (6) provide that a city must hold a ratification election to adopt a tax rate that exceeds the five-percent rollback rate (as opposed to current law, which requires an election only if a petition is received from the citizens); (7) permit the electronic filing of certain appraisal protests; (8) permit appeals of appraisals to small claims court, instead of district court, if the amount in dispute is within the jurisdictional amount of the small claims court; and (9) provide that decisions on appraisal appeals to small claims court are not further appealable. (Companion bill is S.B. 700 by Patrick.)

H.B. 1576 (Isett) – Property Tax: would: (1) lower the property tax rollback rate from eight percent to three percent; and (2) provide that a city must hold a ratification election to adopt a tax rate that exceeds the three-percent rollback rate (as opposed to current law, which requires an election only if a petition is received from the citizens).

H.B. 1578 (Isett) – Health Plan Reinsurance: would: (1) prohibit a reinsurer from selling reinsurance to a self-funded health benefit plan; (2) create the “Texas Medical Reinsurance System” under the supervision and control of the state insurance commissioner; and (3) require all health benefit plans to purchase reinsurance from the Texas Medical Reinsurance System.

H.B. 1583 (Flynn) – Office of State-Federal Relations: would, among other things: (1) abolish the state’s Office of State-Federal Relations as an independent agency and transfer the duties and functions of that agency to the office of the governor; (2) require a political subdivision of the state to report to the office on any contract between the subdivision and a federal lobbyist; (3) mandate that a political subdivision shall submit one report under the bill not later than the 30th day after the date the contract is executed and a second report not later than the 30th day after the date the contract is terminated; (4) provide that the report must include the name of the lobbyist or firm, the issue for which the lobbyist was hired, and the amount of compensation paid or to be paid to the lobbyist under the contract; and (5) provide that a political subdivision contracting with a federal lobbyist before September 1, 2009, shall, if the contract has not terminated before that date, submit a report not later than September 30, 2009. (Companion bill is S.B. 1003 by Deuell.)

H.B. 1585 (Rose) – Property Tax: would provide a $5,000 residential homestead property tax exemption for persons who have served as any of the following for at least one year: (1) volunteer firefighter, (2) volunteer EMS worker, or (3) foster parent. (Note: please see H.J.R. 68, below.)

H.B. 1591 (Hamilton) – Sales Tax: would create a ten-day sales tax holiday in June for certain hurricane preparation items sold in first and second-tier coastal counties.

H.B. 1606 (Branch) – Construction Manager-Agents: would apply to a governmental entity, including a city and any entity owned by a city, and would modify the way in which the services of a construction manager-agent are procured by providing that: (1) a person may not engage in the practice of construction and program management as a construction manager-agent for a governmental entity in this state unless the person holds a certificate of registration issued under the bill by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; (2) a person must meet certain criteria prior to being registered; (3) a governmental entity may use the construction manager-agent method for the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of a facility in a construction project or a program of multiple construction projects; (4) a construction manager-agent is a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or other legal entity that complies with the registration requirements of the bill and that provides consultation to the governmental entity regarding construction, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of the facility; (5) a construction manager-agent is not a contractor, and a governmental entity may not require a construction manager-agent to provide performance and payment bonds; (6) a governmental entity using the construction manager-agent method shall procure, in accordance with applicable law, a general contractor, trade contractors, or subcontractors who will serve as contractors for their specific portion of the work and will provide performance and payment bonds to the governmental entity in accordance with applicable law; (7) a construction manager-agent may not: (a) perform any aspect of the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of a facility; (b) be a party to a construction subcontract; or (c) provide project bonding; and (8) the bill’s provisions would not apply to a professional architect or professional engineer who is licensed in this state and is providing construction or program management services as a construction manager-agent to a governmental entity, but the firm employing the person must maintain professional liability insurance in the amount of at least $1 million for each occurrence. (Companion bill is S.B. 1090 by Deuell.)

H.B. 1616 (Kuempel) – Impact Fees: would prohibit a city from taking an adverse action or penalizing a school district that, pursuant to a statute passed in 2007, does not consent to paying city impact fees. (Neither “adverse action” nor “penalize” is defined in the bill.)

H.B. 1632 (Christian) – Engineering Services: would: (1) apply to a building or other facility that is occupied exclusively by a volunteer fire department in a county with a population of 80,000 or less and is not routinely used by the public; and (2) exempt such a building or facility from the requirement that the engineering plans, specifications, and estimates have been prepared by an engineer, and the requirement that the engineering construction is to be performed under the direct supervision of an engineer.

H.B. 1633 (Walle) – Graffiti: would require a juvenile court or a court granting community supervision to a defendant convicted of a graffiti offense to require a juvenile defendant to perform a certain number of hours of community service depending on the amount of pecuniary loss resulting from the commission of the offense.

H.B. 1634 (T. Smith) – Public Information: would make a motor vehicle accident report and any personal identifying information contained therein confidential to all but certain enumerated parties during the first 30 days following the accident.

H.B. 1635 (T. Smith) – Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC): would abolish the TRCC and repeal section 214.906 of the Local Government Code, which requires a city, before issuing a building permit, to verify that the builder is registered with the TRCC.

H.B. 1638 (F. Brown) – Elections: would prohibit a city from making a deduction from the salary, wages, or accrued leave of an officer or employee of the city because that individual serves as an election judge or clerk.

H.B. 1644 (Dukes) – Municipal Court: would require certain language to be added to citations for class C misdemeanors and certain court proceedings.

H.B. 1648 (Menendez) – Fire/Police Civil Service: would amend Chapter 143 of the Local Government Code to limit the way in which a civil service city may investigate a complaint against a police officer or firefighter, including: (1) limiting to times at which a police officer or firefighter may be interrogated; (2) not allowing interrogation of a police officer or firefighter at his/her home; (3) specifying the individuals who may perform the investigation; and (4) limiting the way in which an interrogation of a police officer or firefighter may be conducted.

H.B. 1649 (Menendez) – Cell Phones: would: (1) prohibit a person under 18 years of age from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device; (2) prohibit a person under 17 years of age from operating a moped or motorcycle while using a wireless communications device; (3) enhance the penalty for such an offense when the violation is committed within a school zone; and (4) create an affirmative defense to these offenses in the case of certain emergencies.

H.B. 1658 (P. King) – Sales Tax: would exempt from sales taxes certain telecommunications equipment. (Note: this bill is the same as H.B. 468 by Paxton.)

H.B. 1660 (P. King) – Central Appraisal District (CAD) Board: would provide that a CAD board shall be made up of five directors: four appointed by the county’s local administrative judge and one elected by the county’s voters. The bill also repeals the authority of the taxing units in the CAD to disapprove an action by the CAD board.

H.B. 1661 (P. King) – Property Tax: would provide a $60,000 residential homestead property tax exemption for active duty military personnel. (Note: please see H.J.R. 69, below.)

H.B. 1663 (King) – Search Warrants: would allow any magistrate who is also an attorney to issue a search warrant for a blood specimen in intoxication offenses.

H.B. 1669 (Callegari) – Certificates of Convenience and Necessity: would provide that: (1) if a city refuses to provide services to property located in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), a retail public utility may apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) to serve the property, and the TCEQ may grant the certificate irrespective of whether the city consents to the certification; (2) the TCEQ may not extend a city’s CCN beyond its ETJ without the written consent of the landowner who owns the property in which the CCN is to be extended, and the portion of any CCN that extends beyond the ETJ without the consent of the landowner is void; (3) as an alternative to decertification, the owner of a tract of land that is at least 50 acres in size and that is not in a platted subdivision actually receiving water or sewer service may petition the TCEQ for expedited release of the area from a CCN so that the area may receive service from another retail public utility, and the fact that a CCN-holder is a borrower under a federal loan program is not a bar to such a request; (4) a petitioner under number 3, above, must demonstrate that a written request for service, other than a request for standard residential or commercial service, has been submitted to the CCN-holder identifying, among other things, the approximate cost of the alternative service and whether the petitioner intends for fire protection to be part of the requested level of service; and (5) if the CCN-holder has never provided service to the area the petitioner seeks to have released, the TCEQ is not required to find that the proposed alternative provider is capable of providing better service than the certificate holder, but only that the proposed alternative provider is capable of providing the requested service.

H.B. 1677 (W. Smith) – Geospatial Data: would require a city to provide certain notice on each geospatial data product that: (1) is created or hosted by the city; (2) appears to represent property boundaries; and (3) was not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor.

H.B. 1681 (Gallego) – Sex Offenders: would permit a general law city to prohibit a registered sex offender from going in, on, or within a specified distance of a child safety zone within the city.

H.B. 1702 (Laubenberg) – Information Related to Bonds: would provide that: (1) at least thirty days prior to a general obligation bond election, a city must submit to the state comptroller, for publication on the comptroller’s Web site, information regarding the amount of the bonds, the way in which the bond proceeds will be used, the effect of the bonds on the tax rate, the city’s total bonded indebtedness, and more; and (2) each calendar quarter, a city must prepare a report, for posting on the state comptroller’s Web site, detailing the city’s bonded indebtedness.

H.B. 1715 (Gonzalez Toureilles) – Rural Economic Development: would: (1) create the “Texas Rural Development Fund” as an account in the state’s general revenue fund; and (2) provide that money in the account may be spent in rural areas of the state on entrepreneurship programs, regional planning, rural leadership enhancement, and rural youth corps programs. (Companion bill is S.B. 684 by Lucio.)

H.B. 1720 (Bohac) – Political Advertising: would make it an offense for a city official or employee to spend public funds on a communication describing an election measure if the communication contains material information that the official or employee knows is false.

H.B. 1724 (Menendez) – Casinos and Gaming: would authorize: (1) the establishment of up to twelve casinos in Texas, (2) the placement of slot machines at racetracks, and (3) gaming on the lands of three recognized Indian tribes in Texas. A casino would be authorized in a county only if that county’s voters approve it at an election called by the county’s commissioners court or mandated by a citizens’ petition. Finally, the bill provides that a casino shall pay a tax of fifteen percent of the gross gaming revenue and that one-thirtieth of that revenue shall be allocated to the city in which the casino is located. (Companion bill is S.B. 1084 by Ellis.)

H.B. 1726 (Chavez) – Property Tax: would modify the Super-Freeport property tax exemption to clarify that the exemption is not available for goods stored at a warehouse that is in “any way” owned or controlled by the owner of the goods. (Companion bill is S.B. 947 by Duncan.)

H.B. 1727 (W. Smith) – Fireworks: would provide that a city may not prohibit the transport of fireworks in unopened and original packaging in a motor vehicle within the city limits.

H.B. 1747 (T. Smith) – Public Information: this bill is identical to H.B. 1634 (above), also by T. Smith.

H.B. 1751 (Leibowitz) – Property Tax: would exempt from property taxes the portion of a homestead or agricultural property that represents the value attributable to the installation of renewable energy devices, structures, or systems that were installed after October 1, 2007.

H.B. 1753 (Leibowitz) – Graffiti: would require a child who has been found to have engaged in a graffiti offense on multiple occasions to perform not less than 100 hours of community service.

H.B. 1759 (Thompson) – Mandatory Health Benefits: would require the issuer of a health benefit plan, including a local government risk pool, to provide coverage for orally administered anticancer medication.

H.J.R. 65 (Y. Davis) – Eminent Domain: would amend the Texas Constitution to provide that adequate compensation for the taking of property that is a homestead or farm, if the taking makes relocation of the homestead or farm necessary, includes the cost of relocation from the condemned property to another property that allows the property owner to: (1) have a standard of living comparable to the property owner's standard of living immediately before the taking, if the property taken is a homestead; or (2) operate a comparable farm, if the property taken is a farm.

H.J.R. 67 (Creighton) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the commissioners court of Montgomery County to call a county-wide election to lower the residential property tax appraisal cap for all taxing units in the county from ten percent to a percentage of not less than three percent. (Note: please see H.B. 1546, above.)

H.J.R. 68 (Rose) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to provide a $5,000 residential homestead property tax exemption for persons who have served as any of the following for at least one year: (1) volunteer firefighter, (2) volunteer EMS worker, or (3) foster parent. (Note: please see H.B. 1585, above.)

H.J.R. 69 (P. King) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to provide a $60,000 residential homestead property tax exemption for active duty military personnel. (Note: please see H.B. 1661, above.)

H.J.R. 70 (Menendez) – Slot Machines/Casino Gaming: would amend the Texas constitution to, among other things, provide that all or part of the state's net revenue from the regulation and taxation of casino gaming and slot machines shall be used to fund transportation and to provide additional financial aid for higher education students. (Companion bill is S.J.R. 31 by Ellis.)

H.J.R. 72 (Leibowitz) – Property Tax: would amend the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to exempt from property taxes certain renewable energy devices. (Note: please see H.B. 1751, above.)

S.B. 926 (Huffman) – Red Light Cameras: would prohibit a city from imposing a civil penalty on an emergency vehicle for running a red light that is monitored by a red light camera. (Companion bill is H.B. 998 by Fletcher).

S.B. 927 (Huffman) – Electronic Voting Machines: would allow the attorney general, with the consent of the local county or district attorney, to investigate and prosecute the offense of tampering with an electronic voting machine.

S.B. 935 (Seliger) – Municipal Judges: would authorize municipal judges to perform wedding ceremonies. (Companion bill is H.B. 423 by Guillen.)

S.B. 938 (Carona) – Street Gangs: would require: (1) certain gang members to register with the local law enforcement agency at least annually; (2) certain gang members who operate online businesses to register the business with the agency; and (3) a city police department to forward all registration information to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

S.B. 942 (Wentworth) – Transportation Funding: would authorize several new local transportation infrastructure funding options. Specifically, the bill would provide that:

  1. Several transportation funding options would be available at the county level: a county gasoline and diesel fuel tax; a county motor vehicle sales; an additional county sales and use tax; a real estate transfer fee; an additional vehicle registration fee; a passenger motor vehicle sales tax; a fee on each new resident of the county; a nonresident commuter fee on nonresidents who commute into the county; a fee based on the number of miles traveled by a motor vehicle registered to a resident of the county; a fee on each motor vehicle inspected in the county; and a high congestion area fee imposed during peak traffic times in designated areas.
  2. A county may exercise a funding option under the bill if the commissioners court imposes the option or if the commissioners court calls an election and the imposition of the option is approved by a majority of the voters of the county.
  3. The ballot must designate each funding option and specify the rate or amount of each funding option, the effective date of the imposition of each funding option, the manner in which each funding option will be administered, collected, and enforced, and must allow the voters to vote for or against each funding option separately.
  4. The order calling the election may specify one or more county transportation projects or services to which revenue from a proposed funding option will be dedicated or provide that a funding option will expire when the associated transportation project is completed.
  5. A commissioners court may: (1) abolish one or more funding options previously imposed; (2) increase or decrease the rate or amount of one or more funding options previously imposed; (3) decrease the rate or amount of one or more funding options previously approved at an election; or (4) call an election on any of these options.
  6. A commissioners court shall call an election under number 5(4), above, if the commissioners court receives a citizen petition.
  7. A county shall use the money only for county transportation purposes.

S.B. 947 (Duncan) – Property Tax: this bill is the same as H.B. 1726 by Chavez, above.

S.B. 951 (Shapleigh) – Property Tax: would: (1) permit the owner of certain historic property to receive a special property tax appraisal for ten years based on the property’s historic status; (2) provide that the appraised value of such property shall be the market value minus the cost needed to rehabilitate the property; and (3) provide a rollback penalty for property that ceases to qualify for the reduced appraisal.

S.B. 977 (Ellis) – Debt Collection: this bill is the same as H.B. 1478 by Bohac, above.

S.B. 978 (West) – Public Improvement Districts: this bill is a substantial re-write of the law governing municipal public improvement districts (PIDs). Among other changes, the bill would: (1) require a city to specifically designate the boundaries of a PID; (2) define the “qualified costs” that may be funded by PID assessments; (3) provide that a PID is not a “separate body politic” from the city that created it; (4) permit entities other than cities and counties to create PIDs; (5) permit the city council to directly create a PID, rather than waiting for a petition of landowners as current law provides; (6) permit projects to be pursued outside the PID; (7) prohibit the narrowing of streets using PID assessment revenue; (8) provide that only publicly-owned streets may be benefited using PID assessment revenue; (9) permit PID projects in the ETJ of a city; (10) permit light rail transit to be improved with PID assessment revenue; (11) expand the use of PID assessment revenue for parks to include open spaces and trails; (12) permit school facilities to be funded by PID assessment revenue; (13) allow cities more discretion in the methodology of levying assessments in a PID; (14) give property owners increased ability to petition into or out of a PID; (15) allow payment of assessments in installments; and (16) provide that PID assessments run with the land.

S.B. 990 (Ellis) – Rural Land Bank: would allow a rural city to be part of a land bank program to acquire land for low income affordable housing.

S.B. 1003 (Deuell) – Office of State-Federal Relations: this bill is the same as H.B. 1583, above.

S.B. 1023 (Ogden) – Eminent Domain: would provide that: (1) a public or private entity that obtains through the use of eminent domain a property interest that is less than fee simple title must, with respect to the property owner from whom the interest is obtained, use the least intrusive means for achieving the purpose for which the interest is obtained; (2) the court in which the property interest was condemned has continuing jurisdiction over the condemning entity's use of the property interest condemned for the purpose of ensuring compliance of the entity with the bill’s provisions; (3) a property owner from whom a property interest subject to the bill was taken may petition the court in which the property interest was condemned at any time for injunctive relief to obtain compliance by the condemning entity; (4) a condemnation petition must state that the facts to be proven are that: (a) the petitioner is authorized to condemn property for the purpose for which the property is sought; (b) the use for which the property is sought is a public use; (c) the property sought is necessary to accomplish that public use; and (d) with respect to the property owner, the petitioner will use the least intrusive means for achieving that public use; (5) in a condemnation proceeding subject to the bill, a property owner may submit evidence that a less intrusive means of achieving the purpose for which the condemning entity seeks the property interest exists; (6) if the property owner submits evidence under number 5, above, the condemning entity has the burden of proving that the means sought through the condemnation is less intrusive than the means proposed by the property owner; (7) if a condemning entity fails to prove any of the facts or meet the entity's burden under the bill, the court shall deny the condemnation and award to the property owner the owner's court costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred in relation to the condemnation proceeding; and (8) if the special commissioners award greater damages than the condemnor offered to pay before a condemnation proceedings began or if the decision of the commissioners is appealed and a court awards greater damages than the commissioners awarded, the condemnor shall pay all costs and the property owner's reasonable attorney's fees and expert witness fees.

S.B. 1025 (Ogden) – Elections: would provide that for a non-federal office, the candidate that receives the highest number of votes must defeat the candidate with the second highest number of votes by one percent or more, or else the candidates are considered to have tied for the highest number of votes.

S.B. 1041 (Patrick) – Sovereign Immunity: would lower from $100,000 to $10,000 the maximum amount for which an individual public servant, including a city official, may be liable for certain property damages.

S.B. 1045 (Gallegos) – Civil Service: this bill is the same as H.B. 1545, above.

S.B. 1068 (Wentworth) – Public Information: would allow a city to redact certain types of personal information under the Public Information Act without first requesting a decision from the attorney general.

S.B. 1069 (Wentworth) – Search Warrants: would allow any magistrate to issue certain types of search warrants.

S.B. 1078 (Carona) – Graffiti: would: (1) make it a state jail felony to make an alteration to railroad property, property of the U.S. Postal Service, a street sign, or an official traffic-control device; (2) allow a city to require the owner of property within the city limits to remove graffiti from the property within 30 days of receiving notice from the city; and (3) allow a city to remove the graffiti and charge the expenses of removal to the property owner either upon request of the property owner, or if the property owner fails to remove the graffiti within 30 days of receiving notification from the city.

S.B. 1081 (Huffman) – Criminal History Record Information: would entitle the attorney general to obtain from a law enforcement agency criminal history record information that relates to either an applicant for a position of employment with the office of attorney general or to a person who proposes to enter into a contract with the office of attorney general.

S.B. 1084 (Ellis) – Casinos and Gaming: this bill is the same as H.B. 1724, above.

S.B. 1087 (Shapleigh) – Graffiti: would: (1) create a state jail felony offense for the burglary of a building to create graffiti; (2) require a county court, district court, or juvenile court to collect a juvenile prevention and graffiti eradication fee from an individual convicted of a graffiti offense in the amount of $50 to $500, depending on the amount of pecuniary loss resulting from the commission of the offense and the number of previous graffiti convictions; (3) allow a city to regulate the sale of aerosol paint by requiring identification and logging by businesses of each sale of aerosol paint; (4) allow a city to require a surcharge not to exceed one dollar on each sale of aerosol paint to be used for graffiti abatement; (4) allow a city to require the owner of property within the city limits to remove graffiti from the property within seven days of receiving notice from the city; and (5) allow a city to remove the graffiti and charge the expenses of removal to the property owner if the property owner fails to remove the graffiti within seven days of receiving notification from the city.

S.B. 1090 (Deuell) – Construction Manager-Agents: this bill is the same as H.B. 1606, above.

S.B. 1101 (Watson) – Motor Fuels Tax: would exempt gas and diesel sold to volunteer fire departments from motor fuels taxes.

S.B. 1102 (Watson) – Energy Security Technology: would provide that: (1) when constructing or extensively renovating a critical governmental facility (such as a command and control center, shelter, jail, or police or fire station), the entity with charge and control of the facility shall evaluate whether it is cost-beneficial to equip the facility with a combined heating and power system (i.e., a system that can provide all the electricity needed to power the facility's critical emergency operations for at least fourteen days); and (2) provide that the entity may equip the facility with a combined heating and power system if the expected energy savings exceed the expected costs.

S.B. 1110 (Jackson) – Alternative Procurement Methods: would: (1) prohibit the use of a reverse auction procedure for a public works contract for which a performance or payment bond is required; (2) consolidate the provisions of current law relating to alternative delivery systems for construction projects (e.g., competitive sealed proposals, construction manager-agent, construction manager at-risk, design-build, and job order contracting) by most governmental entities, including cities; (3) provide procedures and criteria for a governmental entity to use when selecting a construction contractor using a method other than competitive bidding; (4) authorize the use of any alternative delivery method, except design-build, for any improvement to real property; (5) for a city under 100,000 population, limit the use of design-build to buildings and associated structures; (6) for a city over 100,000 population, authorize the use of design-build for a limited number of civil works projects (such as roads, bridges, and utilities) in any fiscal year, based on population; (7) for a city over 100,000 that chooses to use the design-build method for a civil works project, provide that the city shall assume all risks associated with the project; (8) for a city over 100,000 that chooses to use the design-build method for a civil works project, provide that the city may offer a stipend of one-half of one percent to an unsuccessful offeror to offset the offeror’s costs in preparing its proposal; (9) for a city over 100,000 that chooses to use the design-build method for a civil works project, provide that if the city does not pay a stipend to an unsuccessful offeror, the governmental entity may not use or disclose in any way the work product contained in the offer; (10) if a change order for a public works contract in a city with a population of 500,000 or more involves a decrease or an increase of $100,000 or less, or a lesser amount as provided by ordinance, the governing body may grant general authority to an administrative official to approve the change order; (11) allow the use of alternative procurement methods for a project financed with certificates of obligation; (12) for a project financed by certificates of obligation, impose certain limits on change orders; and (13) expressly provide that certain entities may not use the alternative procurement methods in the bill.

S.B. 1117 (Nichols) – Property Tax: would extend the appraisal arbitration process to tangible personal property value appeals.

S.B. 1120 (West) – Racial Profiling: would: (1) provide that if a law enforcement agency intentionally fails to submit a required racial profiling report, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Offi