CITY-RELATED BILLS FILED

H.B. 4 (Pitts) – Park Funding:  This supplemental appropriations bill would cut parks grants from proceeds of the sporting good sales during the current 2010-2011 biennium by $300,000. 

H.B. 256 (HIlderbran) – Cable and Video Service: would provide that:  (1) beginning September 1, 2011, a cable service provider or video service provider that was not allowed to or did not terminate a municipal franchise under the current state franchise law (S.B. 5 (2005)) may elect to terminate that franchise and seek a state-issued certificate of franchise authority for the area served under the municipal franchise by providing written notice to the Public Utility Commission and the affected city before January 1, 2012; (2) a cable service provider that elects to terminate an existing municipal franchise is responsible for remitting to the affected city, before the 91st day after the date the municipal franchise is terminated, any accrued but unpaid franchise fees due under the terminated franchise; (3) a city may review the business records of a cable service provider or video service provider to the extent necessary to ensure compensation in accordance with a state-issued franchise, provided that the city may only review records that relate to the 48-month period preceding the date of the last franchise fee payment; (4) if a city uses the one-percent public, education, and governmental (PEG) channel fee for a purpose that is not authorized by federal law, the fees are chargeable as a credit against the state-issued franchise fee payments; (5) a city that receives PEG fees: (a) shall maintain revenue from the fees in a separate account established for that purpose; (b) may not commingle revenue from the fees with any other money; (c) shall maintain a record of each deposit to and disbursement from the separate account, including a record of the payee and purpose of each disbursement; and (d)  not later than January 31 of each year, shall provide to each certificate holder that pays a fee to the city a detailed accounting of the deposits to and disbursements from the separate account made in the preceding calendar year; (6) once a local franchise is terminated under the bill, cable services to community public buildings, such as municipal buildings and public schools, no longer must be provided; (7) on the expiration or termination of a local franchise agreement, a provider that provides such services may deduct from the franchise fee to be paid to the city an amount equal to the actual incremental cost of the services in (6) if the city requires the services after that date; and (8) where technically feasible, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that is not an incumbent cable service provider and an incumbent cable service provider, including an incumbent cable service provider that holds a state-issued certificate of franchise authority issued after terminating pursuant to the bill, shall use reasonable efforts to interconnect their cable or video systems for the purpose of providing PEG programming.  (S.B. 1089 is substantially similar to this bill.)

H.B. 257 (Hilderbran) – Utility Deposits:  would reduce the amount of time that must pass before an unclaimed utility deposit or other unclaimed personal property is presumed abandoned.  (This bill is identical to H.B. 1764 by Harper-Brown.)

H.B. 258 (N. Gonzalez) – State Traffic Fine: would increase the amount of the “state traffic fine” on convictions in municipal court from $30 to $45. (This bill is identical to H.B. 1233 by N. Gonzalez.)(Note:  See lead article in this edition for more information on this bill.)

H.B. 259 (Eiland) – Assessment on Video Providers: would: (1) impose on each video provider (e.g., cable television services and similar services, as well as satellite service) a state “assessment” of 6-1/4 percent of gross revenues derived from the provision of subscription video services in this state (but excluding Internet service); (2) define “gross revenues;” (3) provide that each video provider is entitled to a credit against the assessment imposed under this bill for state or local franchise fees paid to cities; (4) provide that the total credit claimed on an assessment report may not exceed the amount of the assessment due for the report; (5) provide that the assessment imposed by the bill is due and payable to the comptroller on or before the last day of the first month following the end of each calendar quarter; (6) require a provider on whom the assessment is imposed by the bill to maintain the necessary records (which shall be open to the comptroller at all times), and any other information required by the comptroller, to determine the amount of the assessment that the provider is required to remit and any credit that the provider is entitled to claim, the number of subscription video service subscribers in each incorporated area and in the unincorporated area of each county; (7) provide various penalties against a provider that violates the provisions of the bill; (8) require that three-fourths of the revenue collected from the assessment imposed by the bill shall be deposited to the credit of the general revenue fund and one-fourth of the revenue shall be deposited to the credit of the subscription video assessment clearance fund created under the bill; (9) provide that the subscription video assessment clearance fund is a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund; (10) provide that, effective on January 1, 2012, not later than the last day of the second month following a calendar quarter, the comptroller shall calculate the pro rata share of total subscription video service subscribers for each city and the unincorporated area of each county according to the most recent subscription report filed by each provider; and (11) require the comptroller to distribute the balance of the amount in the subscription video assessment clearance fund, less up to a five percent administrative fee in certain circumstances, by issuing a warrant drawn on the fund to each city with subscription video service subscribers in an amount equal to the city's pro rata share of the amount in the fund as of the date the warrant is issued and  each county with subscription video service subscribers outside of an incorporated area in an amount equal to the county’s pro rata share of the amount in the fund as of the date the warrant is issued.  (Note:  this bill is apparently meant to be part of a “paired package” with S.B. 1087, below)

H.B. 667 (S. Miller) – Groundwater: would: (1) recognize a landowner’s or landowner’s lessee’s ownership of groundwater in place and right to produce groundwater; and (2) permit a landowner’s or landowner’s lessee’s groundwater rights to be limited only by a rule promulgated by a groundwater conservation district if the rule is consistent with Sections 3, 17, and 19, Article I, of the Texas Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

H.B. 1820 (R. Anderson) – 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. (Note:  This summary has been revised from a previous edition.)

H.B. 2040 (Hamilton) – Emergency Management:  would: (1)  make crisis incident stress management services provided to emergency response team members confidential; and (2) limit liability for any loss related to an emergency response team member’s provision of critical incident stress management services.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1065 by Williams.)

H.B. 2042 (Menendez) – Defense Base Development Authorities:  would provide that a defense base development authority may charge for the use, lease, or sale of an open space or a facility and various financial and professional services, and would exempt certain commercial aircraft that are under construction inside the authority from ad valorem taxation in certain instances.

H.B. 2043 (Menendez) – Property Tax:  would provide that a commercial aircraft or tangible personal property that the owner intends to incorporate into, or attach to, a commercial aircraft that is located inside a defense base development authority is not to be considered tangible personal property that is subject to taxation.

H.B. 2045 (Berman) – Sales Tax:  would provide that a taxpayer may deduct and withhold three-fourths of one percent of the amount of taxes due from the taxpayer on a timely return as reimbursement for the cost of collecting sales taxes, so long as the total amount deducted does not exceed certain specified limits per month, quarter, and year.  

H.B. 2048 (Lyne) – Hotel Occupancy Taxes:  would: (1) allow a city to directly perform an audit, or to contract with another person to perform an audit, to determine any delinquency in hotel occupancy tax payments to the city; (2) require the city to notify the comptroller if the results of an audit reveal a failure of a hotel to collect or pay hotel taxes; (3) require the comptroller to review the information submitted by a city to determine whether to proceed with collection and enforcement efforts, and distribute 20 percent of any additional amount collected as a result of the audit to the city to defray the cost of the audit; and (4) provide that a city may not receive a percentage of the amount collected if the information submitted to the comptroller was obtained as a result of an audit performed on a contingent fee basis.

H.B. 2049 (Lavender) – Property Tax:  would make land used for raising or keeping bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products eligible for appraisal as open-space land for property tax purposes.

H.B. 2050 (Pena) – Elections:  would allow a poll watcher to use a mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound while serving as a watcher only if: (1) the device is used to report an irregularity or violation of law relating to the election; or (2) the device is used to contact the authority holding the election, the secretary of state, the attorney general, or a law enforcement officer. 

H.B. 2051 (Pena) – Elections:  would add additional language to the oath administered by an election officer to a person selected to provide assistance to a voter.

H.B. 2053 (Pena) – Elections:  would provide that a person may not serve as a poll watcher if the person has been convicted of a felony. 

H.B. 2055 (Pena) – Elections:  would require the secretary of state to establish rules to allow counties to use countywide polling places as an alternative election system. 

H.B. 2056 (Pena) – Elections:  would require the early voting clerk of an authority holding an election that does not use as an early voting polling place a location used in the preceding election to notify a person who represents that location of the change as soon as practicable after the authority determines the location of each early voting polling place.  

H.B. 2057 (Pena) – Elections:  would create the offense of criminal conspiracy to interfere with an election for any offense relating to the registration of voters, voting procedures, application for a ballot, or voting by mail. 

H.B. 2058 (Pena) – Elections:  would provide that a person assisting an individual in the completion of an early voting ballot application commits an offense if the person does not sign and print his or her name on the application, regardless of whether the person is in the presence of the applicant.  

H.B. 2065 (Allen) – Law Enforcement:  would: (1) authorize a city to create a pretrial victim-offender mediation program for certain first-time offenders; (2) outline the requirements for the program; (3) provide that victim-offender mediation does not have to be performed by a trained mediator; (4) outline the requirements for a mediation agreement between the parties in a victim-offender mediation; (5) require a city that establishes a mediation program to notify the attorney general's office; (6) authorize a city to charge a fee for participation in the mediation program, to be based on the defendant’s ability to pay, used only for program purposes, and in an amount not to exceed $500; (7) create a $15 on all property offenses to be sent to the comptroller quarterly for deposit in a special fund; (8) authorize a city with a pretrial victim-offender mediation program to retain 40 percent of the $15 fee collected for maintenance of the program; and (9) authorize any other city to keep ten percent of the fee, so long as the fee is remitted properly.

H.B. 2075 (Martinez) – Disease Presumption:  would provide that: (1) a firefighter or emergency medical technician (EMT) that has a heart attack or stroke while on duty is presumed to have suffered the illness or death during the course and scope of employment, which means he or she would be covered by workers' compensation for that condition; (2) a firefighter or EMT who contracts acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), human immunodeficiency vicrus (HIV), hepatitis B, or hepatitis C is presumed to have contracted the disease during the course and scope of employment, which means he or she would be covered by workers' compensation for that condition, if – while on duty: (a)  the firefighter  or EMT was exposed to a person with these diseases who received treatment from the firefighter or EMT; or (b) the firefighter or EMT  regularly responded to scenes or calls  involving exposure to blood or other bodily fluids; and (3) a firefighter or EMT who contracts methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) resulting in illness or death is presumed to have suffered the illness or death during the course and scope of employment, which means he or she would be covered by workers' compensation for that condition – if, while on duty, the firefighter or EMT was exposed to a person with MRSA who received treatment from the firefighter or EMT. 

H.B. 2076 (Rodriguez) – Debt Collection:  would: (1) authorize a city to contract with a public or private vendor for the collection of a debt related to a civil case, including an unpaid fine, fee, or court cost (but not a commercial bail bond), if the debt is more than 60 days overdue; and (2) allow a city with a vendor described in (1), above, to authorize a collection fee of not more than 30 percent of the amount of the debt collected to be used to compensate the vendor.

H.B. 2078 (Villarreal) – Property Tax:  would: (1) prohibit appraisal districts and appraisal review boards from conducting their own training for board members; (2) prohibit appraisal districts and appraisal review boards from instructing board members to disregard matters taught by the comptroller or to conduct themselves differently from the manner in which they have been instructed by the comptroller; (3) allow the chief appraiser or employee of an appraisal district or appraisal review board to contact a board member only to discuss administrative, clerical, or logistical matters related to the scheduling and operation of hearings, the processing of documents, the issuance of orders, notices, and subpoenas, and the operation of the appraisal review board; (4) require the appraisal district to provide the appraisal review board with independent counsel of the appraisal review board’s own choosing; and (5) prohibit attorneys from representing an appraisal review board if they or any member of their law firm has represented a property owner, an appraisal district, or a governmental entity on an appraisal issue within the prior twelve months.

H.B. 2084 (Kolkhorst) – Food Regulation:  would: (1) prohibit a local health department from regulating a cottage food production operation; (2) allow a local health department to investigate a cottage food production operation if the local health department receives a complaint regarding the operation; and (3) require the Department of Agriculture to develop a program to regulate farmers markets to allow individuals receiving food assistance from the state to use that assistance at farmers market.  

H.B. 2093 (Thompson) – Construction Insurance:  would:  (1) authorize the use of a “consolidated insurance program” under which a principal provides insurance on a construction project for several contractors; and (2) provide specific procedures that must be followed to use such a program.

H.B. 2100 (Lewis) – Property Tax:  would provide that the property of a local government corporation that is located within the boundaries of a local government that the local government corporation was created to aid and act on behalf of, and a transaction to acquire that property, are exempt from taxation in the same manner as a housing finance corporation.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1120 by Seliger.)

H.B. 2101 (Hernandez Luna) – Municipal Court Records:  would require a court, upon the motion of any involved party in a case, to seal identifying financial information or personal identifying information which is included in the court’s record unless the court finds good reason to not do so.

H.B. 2102 (Hernandez Luz) – Mandatory Health Benefit:   would require a health benefit provider, including a benefits pool, to cover the cost of mammography, low dose mammography, and physician-recommended supplemental breast cancer screening. 

H.B. 2103 (Jackson) – Public Funds Collateral Act:  would establish a letter of credit issued by a federal home loan bank as “eligible security” for collateral to secure public funds. 

H.B. 2105 (Y. Davis) – Procurement:  would provide that: (1) a city may not award a contract to a vendor, bidder, contractor, or subcontractor that will perform the work related to the contract with workers located outside the United States, unless the city first obtains a waiver from the state auditor; and (2) a public agency, including a city, may not award or provide a public subsidy to an applicant that will perform any work related to the subsidy with workers located outside the United States, unless the public agency first obtains a waiver from the state auditor.

H.B. 2106 (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. 2107 (Anchia) – Sexually Oriented Businesses:  would require a sexually oriented business to post an outdoor sign if the business applies for a license or permit for a location that is not currently licensed or permitted.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1030 by Carona). 

H.B. 2111 (Woolley) – Gambling:  would: (1) provide for the operation of video lottery games by licensed horse and greyhound racetrack operators; (2) prohibit a political subdivision from imposing: (a) a tax, fee, or other assessment on consideration paid to play a video lottery game; and (b) a tax or fee for attendance or admission to a video lottery establishment or a racetrack at which a video lottery establishment is located unless specifically authorized by statute; (3) require a local law enforcement agency, at the Racing Commission’s request and in accordance with an interagency agreement, to conduct criminal background checks on prospective deputies or investigators of the department of security; (4) require video lottery terminal provider applicants to comply with all local ordinances and rules; and (5) require an applicant for a video lottery terminal establishment license to ensure compliance with all applicable building codes. (Companion bill is S.B. 1118 by Hinojosa.)

H.B. 2112 (Price) – Priority Groundwater Management Districts:  would allow the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to adopt rules regarding the inclusion of all or part of the land within certain existing priority groundwater management areas in a new or existing special district.  (This bill is identical to S.B. 313 by Seliger.)

H.B. 2114 (Coleman) – Recycling: would: (1) create a deposit system for recyclable beverage containers in the state; (2) create a grant program to assist curbside recycling programs and municipal recycling facilities in handling increased recycling rates; (3) require that cans and bottles be recycled through licensed redemption centers or curbside recycling programs in order to receive a deposit refund; (4) authorize a city to open a redemption center; (5) require a redemption center to be licensed by the comptroller, which may establish rules for required hours of operation and remove its approval at any time; and (6) set up a system by which redemption centers and curbside recycling programs may be reimbursed for collection of eligible recyclables. (Companion bill is S.B. 1119 by Ellis).

H.B. 2116 (Coleman) – Restraint of Dogs:  would strengthen regulations regarding keeping dogs in enclosures, including prohibiting leaving a dog outside and unattended in a small enclosure.

H.B. 2128 (Geren) – Certificates of Convenience and Necessity:  would authorize a city to designate a “public utility” as defined in Chapter 13 of the Texas Water Code as the retail public utility that is authorized to serve in a newly annexed or incorporated area in a single certification process before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

H.B. 2130 (Fletcher) – Coin-Operated Machines:  would:  (1) require the owners of certain coin-operated machines to display the owner’s name, address, and phone on each machine that is exhibited or displayed; (2) increase the occupation tax that cities can imposes on certain coin-operated machines; (3) increase the fee that a city can charge for releasing a coin-operated machine that has been sealed for failure to pay an occupation tax; and (4) repeal Occupations Code Section 2153.403, which provides for the prorated tax on a coin-operated machine.

H.B. 2134 (Solomons) – Public Utility Commission:  this is the Public Utility Commission sunset bill.  The bill would extend the commission for 12 years, and make various administrative changes to the commission.  (In its current form, the bill would not directly affect cities.)

H.B. 2139 (Guillen) – Libraries:  would require the Library and Archives Commission to establish an “Adopt a Library” program to encourage private investment in and donations to public libraries throughout the state.

H.B. 2141 (Guillen) – Law Enforcement:  would commission game wardens as the sole officers responsible for enforcing recreational water safety.

H.B. 2144 (Garza) – Uniform Election Dates:  would: (1) except the initial election of the members of the governing body of a newly incorporated city from the uniform election date requirement; (2) provide that a newly incorporated city may, not later than the second anniversary of the date of incorporation, change the date on which it holds its general election for officers to another authorized uniform election date; and (3) require a newly incorporated city to select a uniform election date for the general election of its governing body not later than the first anniversary of the date of its incorporation.

H.B. 2153 (Eiland) – Automobile Theft Prevention Fee:  would: (1) raise the Automobile and Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority fee from $1 to $2; and (2)  require that fifty percent of the fee collected for the authority be used for the purposes of automobile burglary and theft prevention. 

H.B. 2156 (T. King) – Driving Without Insurance: would repeal the state annual surcharges on convictions of driving with an invalid license and driving without insurance. 

H.B. 2157 (Coleman) – Cell Phone Ban:  would: (1) prohibit the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle, including use to read, write, or send a text-based communication; and (2) repeal current requirements to post signs at school crossing zones regarding the prohibited use of wireless communication devices.

H.B. 2161 (C. Howard) – Municipal Utility Districts:  would provide that a city may provide in its written consent for the inclusion of land in a municipal utility district that a contract (e.g., an “allocation agreement”) between the district and the city be entered into prior to the first issue of bonds, notes, warrants, or other obligations of the district. The bill would also provide that the allocation agreement shall contain, among other things, an allocation of the taxes or revenues of the district or the city which will assure that, if the district is located outside the corporate limits of the city on the date its creation is confirmed by the voters, following the date of the inclusion of all the district’s territory within the corporate limits of the city, the total annual ad valorem taxes collected by the city and the district from taxable property within the district does not exceed an amount greater than the city's ad valorem tax upon such property.

H.B. 2169 (Aycock) – Property Tax:  would: (1) allow a city council to rescind a property tax discount previously adopted by the city council; and (2) provide that the rescission takes effect beginning in the year in which the discount was rescinded, unless the discount was rescinded after September 1, in which case the rescission takes place the following year.

H.B. 2174 (Hartnett) – Court Fees:  would:  (1) create a $5 fee for judicial access and improvement to be collected on certain offenses and remitted to the comptroller for deposit in a judicial access and improvement account; and (2) authorize a city to keep five percent of the fee.

H.B. 2180 (Isaac) – Disorderly Conduct:  would provide, in relation to the offense of disorderly conduct, that a noise is presumed unreasonable if the noise exceeds a decibel level of 60.

H.B. 2185 (Harper-Brown) – Municipal Court:  would: (1) allow deferred disposition for certain motor vehicle offenses for individuals with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs); (2) extend the time period since the last driver safety course when assigning a driving safety course from twelve months to forty-eight months for CDL holders; (3) authorize a CDL holder to take a driver safety course under a deferred disposition agreement, in certain circumstances and with certain conditions.

H.B. 2191 (Elkins) – Elections:  would require an application for a ballot to be voted by mail to contain a box for the applicant to choose a language in which the applicant would prefer the ballot to be printed, as well as a notice that if the applicant fails to choose the ballot will be delivered in English.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1199 by Patrick.)

H.B. 2194 (L. Taylor) – Elections:  among other things, would: (1)  prohibit a government official who oversees, manages, or administers the elections process from being a candidate for public office or an office of a political party, hold a public office, or hold an office or position in a political party; (2) allow a presiding judge or alternate presiding judge to observe assistance being provided to a voter under certain circumstances; (3) require unofficial election results to be released as soon as they are available after polls close, except that the presiding judge of the central counting station may withhold the release of unofficial election results until the last voter has voted; and (4) provide that the nepotism laws do not apply to an appointment of an election clerk who is not related in the first degree by consanguinity or affinity to an elected official of the authority that appoints the election judges for that election.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1128 by Jackson.)

H.B. 2196 (Rodriguez) – Theft of Service:  would provide, in regard to the offense of theft of service, that if compensation is or was to be paid on a periodic basis, the intent to avoid payment for a service may be formed at any time during or before a pay period, and the partial payment of wages alone is not sufficient evidence to negate the actor’s intent to avoid full payment for a service. (Companion bill is S.B. 1024 by Rodriguez.)

H.B. 2203 (Otto) – Property Tax:  would extend a pilot program authorizing a property owner to appeal an appraisal review board determination to the State Office of Administrative Hearings to Collin, Denton, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Nueces Counties. 

H.B. 2204 (Oliveira) – Motor Vehicle Registration:  would: (1) authorize a city to enter into a contract with the county assessor-collector to provide information so that the assessor-collector can make a determination of whether to refuse to register a motor vehicle because of an outstanding warrant for failure to pay a fine for violation of a traffic law; and (2) authorize a city that has a contract described in (1), above, to impose an additional $20 fee on a person who has an outstanding warrant to use to reimburse the Department of Motor Vehicles or the county assessor-collector for its expenses for providing services under the contract. 

H.B. 2208 (Oliviera) – Property Tax:  would allow a chief appraiser or collector to waive penalties for the failure to file certain documents only if: (1) the taxpayer seeking the waiver files a written application for the waiver with the chief appraiser or collector, as applicable, not later than the 30th day after the date the declaration or statement was required to be filed; and (2) the taxpayer’s failure to file or timely file was a result of a natural disaster that rendered it impossible to comply with the filing requirement, or an event beyond the control of the taxpayer that destroyed the property or records.  

H.B. 2209 (Farias) – Sales Tax:  would impose a tax on the sale to a retailer of certain sweetened beverages and ingredients used to make certain sweetened beverages, and use the revenue generated by the tax for the promotion of children’s health programs. 

H.B. 2213 (Farias) – Sales Tax:  would impose a tax on the sale to a retailer of certain sweetened beverages and ingredients used to make certain sweetened beverages, and use 40% of the revenue generated by the tax for the promotion of children’s health programs, with the remainder to the credit of the general revenue fund. 

H.B. 2214 (Farias) – Sales Tax:  would impose a tax on the sale to a retailer of certain sweetened beverages and ingredients used to make certain sweetened beverages, and allocate 80 percent of the revenue generated by the tax to the Texas Education Agency, with the remaining 20 percent going to the Department of State Health Services. 

H.B. 2215 (Paxton) – Property Tax:  would require a city that adopts a budget that will require raising more revenue from property taxes than in the previous year to create a cover page that: (1) contains a statement in 18-point or larger font using specific language about the property tax increase; (2) contains the record vote of each member of the governing body regarding the adoption of the budget, the ratification of the property tax increase, and the setting of the property tax rate; and (3) the property tax rates for the preceding and current fiscal years.  The bill would also require a city that maintains a Web site to post the record votes of each member of the governing body as stated in (2), above, on the Web site for at least one year from the adoption of the budget. 

H.B. 2218 (Oliveira) – Property Tax:  would change the amount of interest that a city making a refund of property taxes following a judicial proceeding must pay from eight percent to an annual rate of interest paid by the bank on funds deposited in the account maintained by the tax collector for the taxing unit from which refunds are disbursed as of the date on which the final determination of the appeal is made, so long as that rate does not exceed eight percent. 

H.B. 2220 (Y. Davis) – Property Tax:  would provide that: (1) a delinquency date applies only to the amount of taxes required to be paid on the portion of taxable value of the property that is the subject of a motion to change the appraisal role to correct an error that is not in dispute before the delinquency date; and (2) after filing an oath of inability to pay the taxes at issue, a property owner may be excused from the requirement of prepayment of tax as a prerequisite to the determination of a motion if the appraisal review board finds that such prepayment would constitute an unreasonable restrain on the property owner’s right of access to the board.  

H.B. 2221 (Y. Davis) – Property Tax:  would allow an administrative law judge to award reasonable attorney’s fees in an appeal relating to the appraised or market value of property in an amount that does not exceed the greater of $15,000 or twenty percent of the total amount by which the property owner’s tax liability is reduced as a result of the appeal.

H.B. 2225 (Y. Davis) – Eminent Domain:   would provide that, if a taking makes relocation of a homestead or farm necessary, the special commissioners in a condemnation proceeding shall admit evidence on 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 that is habitable; or  (2) operate a comparable farm, if the property taken is a farm.

H.B. 2226 (Truitt) – Public Funds Investment:  among other things, would: (1) require a city’s investment policy to include procedures to monitor rating changes in investments acquired with public funds and the liquidation of such investments; (2) require a city’s investment officer to attend a training session not less than once each state fiscal biennium; (3) provide that an obligation that is fully guaranteed or insured by the FDIC or by the explicit full faith and credit of the United States is an authorized investment; (4) provide that certain investment in certificates of deposit using a broker are authorized investments; (5) authorize an investment pool to invest its funds in money market mutual funds to the extent permitted by and consistent with state law and the investment policies and objectives adopted by the pool.

H.B. 2227 (Coleman) – Municipal Court:  would require a municipal judge to make an affirmative finding of fact to be entered into the judgment of the case if an individual is found to have committed the offense of criminal mischief against a specific piece of property because of the defendant's bias or prejudice against a group identified by gender identity or expression.

H.B. 2228 (Coleman) – Mandatory Health Benefit:  would require health benefit provider, including a pool to provide coverage for self-inflicted injuries to a minor who has a serious mental illness or in an attempt to commit suicide.

H.B. 2242 (Munoz) – Property Tax:  would include cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy in the definition of “disabled” for purposes of eligibility for a local property tax exemption or local property tax freeze on the residence homestead of a disabled person.

H.B. 2257 (Phillips) – Emergency Notification:  would: (1) allow a public service provider, including a city, to use an emergency notification system to notify the provider’s customers, governmental entities and other affected persons of: (a) a disaster or emergency; and (b) actions to take during a disaster or emergency; (2) require an emergency notification system to use a dynamic information database for simultaneous transmission of the information; and (3) give a provider the right to receive confidential 9-1-1 contact information to use the emergency notification system.

H.B. 2260 (Zedler) – Immigration:  would: (1) require a governmental entity, including a city, to verify the lawful presence of an individual before providing any public benefit including a license, food assistance, educational assistance, unemployment benefit, or other similar benefit if the benefit requires lawful presence under state or federal law or local ordinance or rule; (2) allow a city to offer certain benefits without asking immigration status including: (a) temporary disaster or emergency benefits; (b) emergency health care services; (c) immunizations; and (d) some short term shelter services; (3) allow a city to use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program, an equivalent program, or adopt its own rules and procedures for determining immigrations status; (4) require a city to make a report regarding the accuracy of its verification program; and (5) require a city to report a false and willful representation of citizenship to the United States attorney in its district. 

H.B. 2261 (Zedler) – Public Retirement Systems:  would prohibit the inclusion of overtime in the amount of a member's compensation under a public retirement system including the Texas Municipal Retirement System and other city retirement systems.

H.B. 2262 (Dutton) – Building Permits:  would provide that a building permit fee is abolished on the 10th anniversary after the date the fee is adopted or most recently reauthorized unless the governing body of the city that adopted or reauthorized the fee: (1) holds a public hearing on the reauthorization of the fee; and (2) reauthorizes the fee by vote of the governing body.

H.B. 2268 (Hancock) – MTBEs: would create an affirmative defense for a person who is subject to an action brought for nuisance or trespass stemming from certain environmental offenses if the person’s actions that resulted in the alleged nuisance or trespass were authorized by a rule, permit, order, license, certificate, registration, approval, or other form of authorization issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) or the federal government or a federal agency, and: (1) the person was in general compliance with that rule, permit, order, license, certificate, registration, approval, or other form of authorization while the alleged nuisance or trespass was occurring; or (2) the person received enforcement discretion from the TCEQ or federal government or an agency of the federal government for the actions that resulted in the alleged nuisance or trespass.  (This bill is identical to S.B. 875 by Fraser.)

H.B. 2274 (Eiland) – Elections:  would require a city to pay for the expenses of an election contest for a person elected to the city council, including reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and similar related expenses.

H.B. 2279 (Eiland) – Prop 2:  would add representatives of school districts that are required to take action under the state’s Equalized Wealth Level law to the permanent advisory committee to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the implementation of the ad valorem tax exemption for pollution control property.

H.B. 2280 (Eiland) – Prop 2:  would add at least one representative of a school district or junior college district in which property is located that is subject to an ad valorem tax exemption for pollution control to the permanent advisory committee to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the implementation of the ad valorem tax exemption for pollution control property.

H.B. 2284 (Hardcastle) – Engineering:  would provide that:  (1) for purpose of the Engineering Practices Act, the practice of engineering includes the design, conceptual design, or conceptual design coordination of engineering works or systems, including buildings or related structures; and (2) for purposes of the Architect’s Practices Act, and engineer may perform the planning, designing, or supervising work on the features of buildings or related structures.

H.B. 2289 (Crownover) – Gas Pipelines/Rights-of-Way:  would provide that a gas corporation has the right to lay and maintain   lines over, along, under, and across a public road, a canal or stream, or a municipal street or alley and over, under, and across a railroad, a railroad right-of-way, an interurban railroad, or a street railroad only if certain conditions are met.

H.B. 2290 (Paxton) – Debt:  would: (1) require the comptroller, in consultation with the Bond Review Board, to develop and maintain a computerized database on the comptroller’s Web site that lists the bond and other debt obligations issued by each city and that is searchable by zip code; and (2) require cities to provide information necessary for the database to the comptroller at times required by the comptroller. 

H.B. 2291 (Callegari) – Regulation of Occupations:  would prohibit a governmental entity, including a city, from regulating an individual's right to engage in an occupation if the regulation: (1) substantially burdens the right to engage in the occupation; and (2) the burden is not necessary to protect against a present and recognizable harm.

H.B. 2294 (Hunter) – Sovereign Immunity: would state that the declaratory judgment act does not waive sovereign immunity.

H.B. 2300 (Coleman) – Mandatory Health Benefit:  would: (1) expand the definition of mental illness for insurance purposes; (2) require a health benefit plan to cover mental illness to the same extent, for the same amount of inpatient and outpatient treatment, and under the same deductibles and limits as coverage for physical injuries; and (3) prohibit exclusion for a mental disorder

H.B. 2308 (Cook) – Texas Forest Service:  would: (1) allow the Texas Forest Service (TFS) to provide incident management training to local fire personnel to develop the all-hazard response capability of the state; (2) allow the director of the TFS to establish guidelines for volunteer fire departments to assist TFS with wildfires when local firefighting resources are exhausted; (3) allow TFS to compensate volunteer firefighters if resources are available; (4) require TFS to enact a wildfire protection plan; (5) require TFS to review the frequency, size, and severity of past wildfires or future wildfires when determining funding to volunteer fire departments; and (6) allow TFS to designate a portion of the volunteer fire department assistance fund to be used by local volunteer fire departments to be federal matching grant requirements. (Companion bill is S.B. 646 by Nichols.)

H.B. 2312 (Coleman) – Mandatory Health Benefit:  would require a local health department to provide testing and counseling for sickle cell disease for free to anyone who requests it.

H.B. 2317 (Miller) – County Development Authority:  would expand county authority to regulate development in certain counties located west of Austin and San Antonio, commonly known as the Texas Hill Country.

H.B. 2318 (Kolkhorst) – Expunction:  would expand the situations in which an individual is entitled to have all records and files relating to an arrest expunged.

H.B. 2321 (C. Howard) – Property Tax:  would provide that the “market value” of land for property tax appraisal purposes is frozen at the 2009 appraised value until the land is sold or new construction takes place.

H.B. 2327 (McClendon) – Bus Only Lanes:  would create a motor-bus-only lane pilot program for state highways with shoulders of sufficient width in Bexar, Denton, El Paso, and Travis counties. (Companion bill is S.B. 1102 by Wentworth).

H.B. 2331 (P. King) – Appraisals:  would provide that an appraisal review board shall seriously consider evidence provided by a property owner of the price paid by the owner for a residence homestead in a protest of the determination of the appraised value of the homestead.

H.B. 2338 (Paxton) – Property Tax:  would require the chief appraiser of an appraisal district or the county assessor-collector to publish on an Internet Web site certain specified tax rate information for each taxing unit that imposes property in the county. 

H.B. 2347 (Bonnen) – Property Tax:  would allow a property owner to apply for an extension of a residence homestead exemption for up to three tax years following the tax year in which the owner ceases to occupy a residence if the former residence homestead: (1) is not occupied or leased to any person; (2) is being actively offered for sale; and (3) is not used for any business or commercial purpose.

H.B. 2355 (Madden) – Sales Tax:  would provide that an employer who employs a person who obtains a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate while employed by that employer is entitled to a credit or refund of sales taxes up to a certain amount. 

H.B. 2357 (Pickett) – Motor Vehicles:  would, among many other things, provide that a vehicle used by law enforcement under an alias for covert criminal investigations is exempt from the payment of a registration fee.

H.B. 2358 (Landtroop) – Water Rights:  would repeal the statute that makes any proposed transfer of all or a portion of a water right junior in priority to water rights granted before the time application for transfer is accepted for filing.

H.B. 2359 (Hopson) – Political Contributions:  would change the regulation of political contributions by: (1) repealing provisions disallowing direct campaign expenditures; (2) repealing the provision limiting when a corporation or labor organization can make direct campaign expenditures for an election measure; and (3) creating new provisions relating to individual’s making campaign contributions that exempt the person from filing a report if the person already has to file a report under another provision in law. 

H.B. 2361 (Truitt) – Automated Traffic Enforcement: would, among other things, modify the current prohibition against using automated speed camera traffic enforcement to provide that a city may use a device that records the speed of a motor vehicle and obtains photographs or other recorded images or rely on evidence obtained from using the device in the prosecution of a criminal offense if: (1) the device is used by a peace officer who personally observes the violation and issues a citation to the operator of the vehicle at the time of the violation or is unable to issue the citation because of events beyond the control of the peace officer; or (2)  the device is used by a peace officer working in a team of peace officers engaged in a localized collective effort to enforce compliance with posted speed limits, the peace officer personally observes the violation, and another peace officer working in the same team issues a citation to the operator of the vehicle at the time of the violation or is unable to issue the citation because of events beyond the control of the peace officer.

H.B. 2369 (Quintanilla) – Emergency Medical Personnel Training:  would: (1) prohibit the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) from requiring an emergency medical services course or training to be accredited by a national organization before 2018; (2) require DSHS to partner with a testing entity for paramedic examines; and (3) require the testing entity to charge any cost or fee to the examinee.

H.B. 2376 (Hamilton) – Plumbing: would, among other things, provide that a political subdivision that requires a responsible master plumber or an agent of a responsible master plumber to obtain a permit before performing plumbing in the political subdivision shall verify through the board’s Internet Web site, or by contacting the board by telephone, that the responsible master plumber has on file with the board a certificate of insurance.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1075 by Jackson.)

H.B. 2390 (S. Davis) – Confidential Information:  would provide that certain information collected, assembled, or maintained by an emergency response provider relating to preventing, detecting, responding to, or investigating an act of terrorism, criminal activity, or a natural disaster is confidential.

H.B. 2400 (D. Miller) – Water and Sewer Utilities:  would make certain changes to the process of city regulation of water rates assessed by non-city-owned water utilities within city limits, including: (1) requiring a utility to deliver a statement of intent to each ratepayer and the city, acting as regulatory authority over rates, at least 120 days before the proposed effective date of the proposed rate change; (2) repealing a city's authority to suspend the effective date of a proposed rate change during the city's review of the proposal; (3) requiring a city to suspend the date that a proposed rate change would be effective until the date that the city issues a final decision on the rate; (4) making the approval of rates automatic if no hearing is scheduled by the city within the time allotted; and (5) authorizing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to allow a city to provide sewer service without a certificate of convenience and necessity if certain requirements are met.

H.B. 2403 (Otto) – Sales Tax:  would provide that a retailer is engaged in business in this state if the retailer: (1) utilizes a Web site on a server in this state from which digital goods are sold or delivered; (2) holds a substantial ownership interest in, or is owned in whole or in substantial party by, a person who maintains a location in this state from which business is conducted if: (a) the retailer sells a substantially similar product as the related retailer and does so under a substantially similar name; and (2) the facilities or employees of the related retailer are used to advertise, promote, or facilitate sales by the retailer; or (3) holds a substantial ownership interest in, or is owned in whole or in substantial part by, a person that maintains a distribution center, warehouse, or similar location in the state that delivers property sold by the retailer.

H.B. 2406 (J. Davis) – Energy Efficiency Programs: would transfer certain energy assistance programs, including the state low income energy assistance program, from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

H.B. 2411 (Miles) – Emergency Management:  would require emergency management directors to determine whether leased dwellings are inhabitable after a disaster within 30 days of receiving a request to do so by a tenant.

H.B. 2413 (Miles) – Municipal Court:  would enable an individual who holds a commercial driver’s license to take a driver safety class as a condition of deferred disposition of a traffic offense.

H.B. 2424 (Thompson) – Gambling:  would: (1) provide for the operation of video gaming by authorized organizations and commercial operators that are licensed to conduct bingo or lease bingo premises; (2) preempt any conflicting zoning law that impedes the implementation of video gaming at a location where bingo was conducted on January 1, 2011, and where a video gaming retailer is authorized to conduct video gaming; (3) prohibit a city from imposing a tax or fee for attendance or admission to a video gaming premises unless specifically authorized by statute; (4) allow a video gaming retailer to conduct video gaming at a premises other than the licensed bingo premises if the city in which the premises is located holds an election in which a majority of the voters favor prohibiting bingo and the other premises are located in a jurisdiction in which a majority of the voters voting in an election held before January 1, 2011, voted in favor of legalizing bingo games; (5) authorize law enforcement personnel to be present at a retailer’s video gaming premises at any time and authorize municipal peace officers to enter and inspect the premises where video gaming is conducted or video gaming equipment is found; and (6) create certain misdemeanor offenses for video gaming by individuals young than 21 years of age. (Companion bill is S.B. 1212 by Van de Putte.)

H.B. 2425 (Thompson) – Litigation: would: (1) require a party to litigation who files a petition, motion, or other pleading challenging the constitutionality of a Texas statute to notify the attorney general; and (2) prohibit a court from entering a final judgment on the constitutionality of a state statute before the 60th day after the date the notice is served on the attorney general.

H.B. 2428 (Strama) – Property Tax:  would provide that a person who installs or constructs a solar or wind-powered energy device on land or on a building or other permanent structure is entitled to a property tax exemption.

H.B. 2431 (W. Smith) – TCEQ Enforcement:  would make several changes to the classification, evaluation, and use of compliance history by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

H.B. 2432 (J. Davis) – Public/Private Partnerships:  would create a program with detailed criteria to encourage public and private facilities and infrastructure.  (Companion bill is S.B. 1048 by Jackson.)

H.B. 2434 (Y. Davis) – Tax:  would repeal certain property tax and sales tax exemptions, including property tax exemptions for property owned by cities that is used for public purposes, and sales tax exemptions for taxable items sold, leased, rented to, or consumed by cities. 

H.B. 2435 (Deshotel) – Gas Rates: would provide that, in establishing a gas utility’s rates, the regulatory authority may and is encouraged to approve a tariff or rate schedule in which the rate for gas utility service is adjusted based on changes in the gas utility’s revenues, expenses, or investments.

H.B. 2443 (Price) – Parking on Highway:  would: (1) prohibit a person to remain or park a vehicle on a state highway right-of-way except in case of an emergency or for highway construction or maintenance purposes; and (2) provide that such parking is a class C misdemeanor.

H.B. 2446 (Allen) – Law Enforcement:  would authorize the release of certain confidential physician-patient communications during certain internal law enforcement investigations having to do with the use of force by a peace officer.

H.B. 2449 (Aliseda) – Elections:  would allow ballots or carrier envelopes that are possessed pursuant to a continuous course of conduct by a person over one or more days to be aggregated in order to assess the number of ballots or carrier envelopes for the purposes of determining if an offense was committed.  (Companion bill is H.B. 2585 by Pena.) 

H.B. 2451 (Zedler) – Public Retirement Systems: would require a member of a public retirement system, including the Texas Municipal Retirement System but not individual city retirement systems, who leaves a position but is reemployed to resume making contributions to the applicable retirement system.

H.B. 2452 (Zedler) – Health Care Institutions:  would require a health care institution owned by a political subdivision, including a hospital district, to provide written notice to certain individuals disclosing the liability limits applicable to a health care liability claim against the institution and whether a doctor or health care provider is covered by malpractice insurance or another form of financial responsibility.

H.B. 2456 (Zedler) – Property Tax:  would reduce the property tax rollback rate from 108 percent to the inflation rate as determined by the state comptroller.

H.B. 2460 (Truitt) – Public Retirement Systems:  would: (1)  make a public retirement system, including a municipal retirement system, subject to the Public Information Act; and (2) preempt any statute making information held by a public retirement system confidential.

H.B. 2461 (Bonnen) – Property Tax:  would provide that property tax arbitrators are immune from civil liability based on the arbitrator’s determination of the value of property or the appropriate award of any remedy or relief.  

H.B. 2462 (Bonnen) – Motor Vehicle Tax:  would exempt motor vehicles used or sold by trauma service area regional advisory councils from motor vehicle taxes and the costs of vehicle registration.

H.B. 2466 (Phillips) – Cell Phone Ban:  would prohibit a person under eighteen years of age from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device.

H.B. 2471 (Phillips) – Animal Control:  would limit the civil liability of animal control agencies and their employees who, within the scope of employment and in good faith, take custody of certain animals that are abandoned, running at large, or stray and are obtained from a person that certifies that they took reasonable steps to locate the owner.

H.B. 2476 (Harless) – Property Tax:  would: (1) expand the term “dealer’s heavy equipment inventory” to include items of heavy equipment that a dealer holds for lease or rent for purposes of appraisal for property tax purposes; and (2) require a person who engages in the sale, lease, ore rental of more than five items of heavy equipment in a calendar year to register with the comptroller. 

H.B. 2479 (Perry) – Litigation: would include cities and other governmental units as parties who may be referred to a court alternative dispute resolution system if the city is a party to a lawsuit in a district or county court with such a system. (Companion bill