PUBLIC SAFETY

H.B. 215 (Gallego/Ellis) – Law Enforcement:  requires local law enforcement agencies that regularly use live and photograph lineups to adopt a detailed written policy regarding lineup identification procedures, and directs the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas to develop a model policy and associated training materials to assist law enforcement agencies with compliance. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

VETOED H.B. 242 (Craddick/Hegar) – Law Enforcement/Texting While Driving – among other things, this bill:  (1) requires the head of a local law enforcement agency at which a person last served as a reserve law enforcement officer to issue the person photo identification if the person holds a certificate of proficiency; (2) prohibits the operator of a motor vehicle from using a hand-held wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating the vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped; (3) excepts the operator of a motor vehicle from prosecution for violating the prohibition in (2), above, if the operator uses a hand-held wireless communication device: (a) to read, select, or enter a phone number or name to make a phone call; (b) in conjunction with voice-operated technology or a hands-free device; or (c) to navigate using a global positioning system; and (4)  excepts the operator of a motor vehicle from prosecution for violating the prohibition in (2), above, if the hand-held wireless communication device is used by the operator to relay information between the operator and a dispatcher in the course of the operator’s occupational duties and is affixed to the vehicle. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 343 (Fletcher/Huffman) – Accident Reports: provides that:  (1) the record of a peace officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical services employee of a city may not include information relating to a traffic accident that occurs while the employee is driving an official vehicle in the course and scope of the employee’s official duties if the traffic accident results in damages to property of less than $1,000 or an investigation by a peace officer not involved in the accident determines that the employee was not at fault; and (2) an accident form prepared by the Texas Department of Transportation must: (a) include a way to designate and identify a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical services employee who is involved in an accident while driving a vehicle in the performance of the employee’s duties; and (b) require a statement by the employee as to the nature of the accident.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 442 (Guillen/Williams) – Emergency Communications: provides that the amount of the consolidated state court cost presently allocated for fugitive apprehension is reallocated to a new program for emergency radio infrastructure, with the proceeds to be used for an interoperable statewide emergency radio infrastructure and other public safety purposes. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 564 (Craddick/Seliger) – Fire Extinguishers: provides that a local government that adopts an ordinance, order, or policy requiring motor vehicles owned by the local government to be equipped with portable fire extinguishers shall require maintenance to be performed on the portable fire extinguishers annually in accordance with standards that are at least as stringent as the National Fire Protection Association Standard Number 10, Portable Fire Extinguishers. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 577 (McClendon/Deuell) – Emergency Services:  this bill: (1) provides that emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, when responding to a call for assistance, have no duty to review, examine, interpret, or honor a person’s written directive; (2) provides that EMS personnel who are providing emergency prehospital care are subject to Health and Safety Code Chapter 166, which relates to advance directives; (3) authorizes a physician present while a person is receiving emergency prehospital care and who assumes responsibility for the care of the person to order the termination of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); and (4) provides that if a person’s personal physician is not present or does not assume responsibility for the care of the person while the person is receiving emergency prehospital care, the EMS medical director or online physician:  (a) shall be responsible for directing the EMS personnel who are providing emergency prehospital care; and (b) may order the termination of CPR. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 787 (Kuempel/Wentworth) – Abandoned Watercraft and Aircraft: provides that: (1) a law enforcement agency may seize and auction an abandoned aircraft; and (2) an aircraft or watercraft could, under certain circumstances, constitute a junked vehicle and a nuisance subject to abatement. (Effective September 1, 2011).

H.B. 993 (Rodriguez/Watson) – Road Closures: this bill: (1) authorizes a firefighter working for a volunteer fire department, a fire department operated by an emergency services district, or a fire department of a general law city to close one or more lanes of a road or highway to protect the safety of persons or property when performing the firefighter’s official duties; (2) provides that a lane closure must be limited to the affected lane or lanes and one additional lane, unless the safety of emergency personnel operating on the road or highway requires more lanes to be closed; and (3) requires that, in making a lane closure, a firefighter deploy one or more authorized emergency vehicles with audible and visual signals that meet certain requirements in the Transportation Code regarding the lights and equipment on emergency vehicles.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 1083 (Elkins/Fletcher) – Police Identification Card: requires that a law enforcement agency or other governmental entity that was the last to appoint or employ an honorably retired peace officer issue the retired officer an identification card if the retired peace officer holds a certificate of proficiency and requests the identification. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 1137 (Darby/Estes) – Pseudoephedrine: provides, among other things, that: (1) a business establishment may not sell to a person who makes over-the-counter purchases of one or more products containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or norpseudoephedrine more than nine grams of those substances within a 30-day period or more than 3.6 grams in a calendar day; (2) before completing an over-the-counter sale of a product containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or norpseudoephedrine, a business establishment shall transmit certain information about the sale to a real-time electronic logging system used by pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, and other businesses; (3) a business establishment may not complete an over-the-counter sale of a product containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or norpseudoephedrine if a real-time electronic logging system returns a report that the completion of the sale would result in the person obtaining an amount greater than allowed, regardless of whether all or some of the products previously obtained by the buyer were sold at another business establishment; (4) a business establishment  may obtain a temporary exemption from the requirement of using a real-time electronic logging system but must still must keep certain written records of the sells; and  (5) a business establishment shall make the records of the sale of these substances available on request to local law enforcement agencies. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 1168 (D. Miller/Van de Putte) – Smoke Alarms: modifies the law relating to a landlord’s duty to install smoke alarms in a rental unit.  Of particular interest to cities, the bill provides that, if a dwelling unit was occupied as a residence before September 1, 2011, or a certificate of occupancy was issued for the dwelling unit before that date, a smoke alarm installed in accordance with law may be powered by battery and is not required to be interconnected with other smoke alarms, except that a smoke alarm that is installed to replace a smoke alarm that was in place on the date the dwelling unit was first occupied as a residence must comply with residential building code standards that applied to the dwelling unit on that date.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 1215 (McClendon/Uresti) – Identity Theft Police Report:  provides that a police officer making a report for stolen financial information must: (1) include in the report the name of the victim, the name of the suspect, the type of information obtained, and the results of any investigation; and (2) provide the report to the victim upon request.  (Effective September 1, 2011). 

H.B. 1451 (Thompson/Whitmire) – Dog and Cat Breeders: would: (1) provide for the licensing and regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; (2) authorize the department to contract with third-party inspectors, including local law enforcement agencies and local animal control agencies, to enforce or assist in the inspection of, investigation of, and enforcement against commercial dog and cat breeders; (3) authorize the department to establish training requirements, registration procedures, and policies governing third-party inspectors; (4) require that a person inspecting or investigating a dog or cat breeder notify a local law enforcement or local animal control agency not later than 24 hours after discovering evidence of animal cruelty or neglect during an inspection or investigation; and (5) not affect the applicability of an ordinance or other legal requirement of a city or prevent a city from prohibiting or further regulating the possession, breeding, or selling of dogs or cats.  (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 1541 (McClendon/Wentworth) – Automobile Burglary and Theft:  provides, among other things, that: (1) an insurer shall pay to the Texas Auto Theft and Burglary Prevention Authority a fee equal to $2 multiplied by the total number of motor vehicle years of insurance for insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed by the insurer; (2) fifty percent of each fee collected may be appropriated only to the authority for the purposes of prevention of auto theft and burglary; and (3) the authority shall allocate grant funds, including grants to municipal police departments, primarily based on the number of motor vehicles stolen in, or the motor vehicle burglary or theft rate across, the state rather than based on geographic distribution.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 2006 (Bonnen/Huffman) – Release of Police Officer Photograph: provides that a chapter 143 civil service city may not release a photograph of an officer unless: (1) the officer has been charged with an offense; (2) the officer is a party in a civil service hearing or case before an examiner or arbitrator; (3) the photograph is evidence in a judicial proceeding; or (4) the officer gives written consent.  (Effective September 1, 2011.) 

H.B. 2471 (Phillips/Deuell) – Animal Control: limits the civil liability of animal control agencies and their employees who, within the scope of employment and in good faith, take into custody and care for certain animals that are abandoned, running at large, or stray and are obtained from a person who is not affiliated with the animal control agency and who certifies that they took reasonable steps to locate the owner. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 2490 (Solomons/Carona) – Crafted Precious Metal: provides for various changes to the law relating to crafted precious metal dealers.  Of particular interest to cities, the bill provides that a peace officer who has reasonable suspicion to believe that an item of crafted precious metal in the possession of a dealer is stolen may place the item on hold for a period not to exceed 60 days by issuing to the dealer a written notice that: (1) specifically identifies the item alleged to be stolen and subject to the hold; and (2) informs the dealer of certain requirements, including a requirement that the dealer may not melt, deface, alter, or dispose of the identified crafted precious metal until the hold is released in writing by a peace officer of this state or a court order.  (Except as otherwise provided in the bill, effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 2624 (Sheffield/Van de Putte) – Military Family Violence: this bill relates to procedures applicable in circumstances involving family violence and other criminal conduct and military personnel.  Of particular interest to cities, the bill requires: (1) a peace officer who investigates a family violence incident or responds to a disturbance call that may involve family violence to make a written report that includes whether the suspect is a member of the state military forces or is serving in the U.S. armed forces in an active-duty status; and (2) a peace officer to provide written notice of the incident described in (1), above, to the staff judge advocate at Joint Force Headquarters or the provost marshal of the military installation to which the suspect is assigned with the intent that the commanding officer will be notified, as applicable. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 3487 (V. Taylor/Carona) – Law Enforcement Canines: this bill: (1) prohibits a commercial lodging establishment or restaurant from requiring the payment of extra money or a deposit for a service canine that accompanies an individual to the establishment or restaurant if the individual is a peace officer or firefighter assigned to a canine unit, a search and rescue canine handler participating in a search and rescue under authority of a law enforcement or search and rescue agency, or away from home in the course and scope of duty because of a declared disaster or mutual aid request or training; (2) provides for the imposition of a civil penalty against the owner or operator of a commercial lodging establishment or restaurant that violates the prohibition described in (1), above; and (3) provides that governmental immunity from suit and from liability is waived such that the department or agency of a canine unit or handler of a search and rescue canine may be held liable to the owner or operator of a commercial lodging establishment or restaurant for damages to the premises caused by the service canine.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 3547 (Alvarado/Gallegos) – Child-Care Facilities: provides that: (1) a city or a county may enforce state law and rules adopted under state law concerning fire safety standards at a licensed group day-care home or a registered family home; and (2) a city or county shall report to the Department of Family and Protective Services any violation of fire safety standards observed by the city or county at a licensed group day-care home or registered family home. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 3823 (Thompson/Ellis) – 911 Dispatcher Training:   provides that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education shall require a state, county, special district, or municipal agency that employs telecommunicators (defined as “a person acknowledged by the commission and employed by or serving a law enforcement agency that performs law enforcement services on a 24-hour basis who receives, processes, and transmits public safety information and criminal justice data for the agency by using a base radio station on a public safety frequency”) to provide each telecommunicator with 24 hours of crisis communications instruction approved by the commission on or before the first anniversary of the telecommunicator’s first day of employment. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 81 (Nelson/Kolkhorst) – Cottage Food Regulation: provides that a local health department may not regulate the production of food at a cottage food production operation, but must maintain a record of any complaints against such a facility.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 244 (Patrick/Fletcher) – Police Officer Training:  provides that a peace officer who is second in command to a police chief of a law enforcement agency and who attends a continuing education program for command staff provided by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas is exempt from certain line-level continuing education hours required by the Texas Occupations Code. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 316 (Whitmire/Gallego) – Felony Forfeiture:  among other things, this bill: (1) prohibits prosecutors from executing a plea bargain agreement that would waive a person’s interest in property seized under the felony forfeiture laws; (2) provides that post-judgment interest on money seized under the felony forfeiture laws shall be used for the same purposes that the principal is used; (3) prohibits the use of felony forfeiture funds for: (a) political campaigns; (b) donations to certain organizations that do not assist in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime or provide rehabilitation services; (c) judicial training; (d) certain travel expenses; (e) alcoholic beverages; (f) any expenditure not approved by the city council if the law enforcement agency head holds elective office and is not running for reelection or did not prevail in a reelection bid; or (g) a salary, expense, or allowance for an employee of the law enforcement agency that was not approved by the city council; (4) allows the head of a law enforcement agency to donate felony forfeiture funds to an entity that assists in: (a) the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime or abuse; or (b) the provision of mental health, drug, or rehabilitation services; (5) requires more detailed local audits of the expenditure of felony forfeiture funds; (6) permits the state auditor to investigate at any time the expenditure of felony forfeiture funds; (7) requires a law enforcement agency to reimburse the state auditor for costs incurred by the state auditor in performing an audit; (8) permits the attorney general to sue a law enforcement agency or prosecutor who misuses felony forfeiture funds; and (9) permits up to a $100,000 civil fine for misuse of felony forfeiture funds.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 321 (Hegar/Kleinschmidt) – Firearms: provides that: (1) an employer may not prohibit an employee who has a concealed handgun license, who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition, from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned vehicle in a parking lot, garage, or other parking area provided for employees; (2) the bill does not: (a) authorize a concealed handgun license holder, who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition, to possess a firearm or ammunition on any property where the possession of a firearm or ammunition is prohibited by state or federal law; or (b) apply to a vehicle owned or leased by a public or private employer and used by an employee in the course and scope of the employee's employment, unless the employee is required to transport or store a firearm in the official discharge of the  employee's duties; (3) the bill allows an employer to limit the possession of a firearm on the premises of the employer's business (“Premises” is defined in law as a building or a portion of a building, but the term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area); (4) except in cases of gross negligence, a public or private employer is not liable in a civil action for personal injury, death, property damage, or any other damages resulting from or arising out of an occurrence involving a firearm or ammunition that the employer is required to allow on the employer's property under the bill; and (5) for purposes of the bill, a public or private employer does not have a duty to patrol, inspect, or secure any privately owned car or a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees or to investigate, confirm, or determine an employee's compliance with laws related to the ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition or the transportation and storage of a firearm or ammunition.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 331 (Shapiro/Madden) – Synthetic Derivative of Marihuana: this bill: (1) makes any quantity of a synthetic chemical compound that is a cannabinoid receptor agonist and that mimics the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids subject to Penalty Group 2-A of the Texas Controlled Substances Act; (2) provides the penalty for possession of a substance in Penalty Group 2-A; and (3) provides that it is not an offense to knowingly possess a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 2-A if obtained directly from or under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 335 (Fraser/Eiland) – Government Hospitals and Clinics: provides that a hospital or clinic owned or operated by a political subdivision of the state is exempt from the term “health spa” and is thereby exempted from certain regulations imposed on health spas. (Effective September 1, 2011.) 

S.B. 364 (Ogden/F. Brown) – Driving While Intoxicated: requires: (1) the Texas Department of Public Safety to compile and maintain statistical information on the prosecution of offenses relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated; and (2) any police department that enforces intoxication and alcohol related laws to report in the manner and on a form prescribed by the department the number of arrests for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and the number of those arrests resulting in release with no charges.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 396 (Deuell/Marquez) – Firefighter Death Investigation: broadens the state fire marshal’s authority to investigate firefighter deaths, including any factors that may have contributed to a death in connection with an on-duty incident. (Effective immediately.)

S.B. 542 (Hegar/Fletcher) – Police Chief Training: provides that a police chief shall complete the initial training and continuing education relating to law enforcement management issues required under the Texas Education Code. (Effective September 1, 2011).

S.B. 646 (Nichols/Cook) – Texas Forest Service:  provides, among other things, that:  (1) the Texas Forest Service may support the state’s all-hazard response operations by: (a) providing incident management training to local and volunteer responders; (b) maintaining incident management teams that include local and volunteer responders; (c) mobilizing incident management teams for wildfire response operations; and (d) mobilizing incident management teams to provide incident support for local jurisdiction operations; (2)  the director of the Service may establish guidelines within which local volunteer fire departments may assist the Service in responding to a wildfire after other local firefighting resources have been exhausted; (3) the Service may, to the extent resources are available, compensate a volunteer firefighter or volunteer department for labor and expenses relating to wildfire assistance and reimburse a volunteer fire department for equipment provided by the department in regard to wildfire assistance; (4) the director of the Service is authorized to determine: (a) the rate at which a volunteer firefighter or volunteer department may be compensated or reimbursed; (b) the type of labor and expenses for which a volunteer firefighter or volunteer department may be compensated; (c) the type of equipment for which a volunteer fire department may be reimbursed; and (d) the minimum qualifications a volunteer firefighter must meet in order to be compensated, which may include certification under a program administered by the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas or the Texas Forest Service; (5) a volunteer firefighter who receives compensation as described in (3) and (4), above, is not subject to certain Texas Commission on Fire Protection certification requirements; (6) the Service may issue National Wildfire Coordinating Group certification to a volunteer firefighter under terms determined by the director; (6) the Service must develop and regularly update a wildfire protection plan that includes: (a) the Service’s role in supporting local fire department responses, and the manner in which a community may engage the Service on issues related to wildfires; and (b) a description of the role of volunteer fire departments in wildfire response; (7) the director must use certain criteria and qualifications in distributing money from the volunteer fire department assistance fund, including the frequency, size, and severity of past wildfires in the jurisdiction and the potential for loss or damage to property resulting from future wildfires in the jurisdiction; and (8) the Service may designate a portion of the volunteer fire department assistance fund to be used to assist volunteer departments in meeting cost share requirements for federal grants. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 766 (Estes/Issac) – Sport Shooting Ranges:  provides that: (1) a governmental unit, including a city, may not bring suit against a sport shooting range for the lawful discharge of firearms on a sport shooting range or regulate the lawful discharge of firearms on a sport shooting range, except to limit the hours of operation in a manner not more limited than the least limited business in the city except bars; and (2) a city may enforce a valid ordinance or regulation or require the sport shooting range to comply with generally accepted standards in the industry at the time of the range’s construction through injunctive relief against a sport shooting range in certain circumstances.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 1217 (Estes/Hilderbran) – Underground Excavations: provides that an excavator who misrepresents a fact or circumstance to undertake an alleged emergency excavation so as to be excepted from the “call before you dig” requirement is subject to certain penalties, including: (1) civil penalties, which increase with multiple violations; (2) a warning letter and mandatory safety training; and (3) criminal penalties if the person acts intentionally or recklessly. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 1616 (West/Gallego) – Biological Evidence:  requires the Department of Public Safety to adopt standards and rules relating to biological evidence of a sexual assault or a felony offense preserved by a governmental entity, including a  law enforcement agency or crime laboratory, and additionally requires that the evidence be preserved for:  (1) 40  years or until the applicable statute of limitations has expired, if there is an unapprehended actor associated with the offense; or (2) various periods of time in a case where a defendant has been adjudicated and there are no additional unapprehended actors, depending on the type of conviction and whether the defendant was a juvenile.  (Effective immediately.)

S.B. 1636 (Davis/McClendon) – Sexual Assault Evidence:  this bill: (1) provides that certain individuals handling sexual assault evidence, including law enforcement and laboratory personnel, must maintain the chain of custody of the evidence from the time the evidence is collected until the time the evidence is destroyed; (2) requires a law enforcement agency that receives physical sexual assault evidence in an active criminal case to submit that evidence to a public accredited crime laboratory for analysis not later than the 30th day after it is received; (3) requires a person who submits sexual assault evidence to a crime lab to provide signed, written certification with each submission as follows: “This evidence is being submitted by (name of person making submission) in connection with a criminal investigation.”; (4) requires a public accredited crime lab to complete its analysis of sexual assault evidence as soon as practicable, if sufficient personnel and resources are available; (5) provides that the failure of a law enforcement agency to submit sexual assault evidence within the period described in (2), above, does not affect the authority of the agency to submit the evidence to a crime lab for analysis or a lab to analyze the evidence; (6) authorizes the disclosure of sexual assault evidence under certain circumstances; (7) provides for the consent for/withdrawal of consent for the release of evidence contained in an evidence collection kit; (8) requires a law enforcement agency in possession of sexual assault evidence that that has not been submitted for lab analysis to submit:  (a) a list of the agency’s active criminal cases for which sexual assault evidence has not been submitted for laboratory analysis to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) no later than October 15, 2011; (b) all sexual assault evidence pertaining to active criminal cases that have not been submitted for lab analysis to the DPS or a public accredited crime lab by April 1, 2012; (c) a notification to DPS of any evidence submitted under (b), above, to a non-DPS lab; and (9) provides that this bill does not apply to sexual assault evidence collected  before September 1, 1996. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 1787 (Patrick/Martinez Fischer) – Blood and Breath Specimens: requires a peace officer, before requesting a person to submit to the taking of a specimen, to inform the person orally and in writing that, if the person refuses to submit to the taking of a specimen, the officer may apply for a warrant authorizing a specimen to be taken from the person. (Effective September 1, 2011.)


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