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Bills of Interest

TAC legislative staff has highlighted some recently filed bills of interest to county officials.

HB 433 by Simmons – Eliminates straight-party voting.

HB 955 by Rodriguez, Justin – Allows for a person to register to vote at a polling place, and be accepted for voting in the precinct of the person’s residence, if proper identification is presented.

HB 956 by Ortega – Expands eligibility for early voting by mail to someone who is confined in jail or who resides in a nursing home or similar facility.

HB 1005 by Israel – Amends the list of acceptable documentation of proof of identification required to vote; increases criminal penalties for voting illegally.

HB 1061 by Rinaldi – Requires a voter to indicate on their voter registration application card their party affiliation, if any; provides for criminal penalties if a person votes in a primary election without being affiliated with a political party.

HB 1550 by Frank – Enables a county judge, on behalf of the county, to seek reimbursement of $45 for each day a paper-ready inmate remains confined in county jail after the state has been notified of the inmate and $45 per day for the confinement of certain parole violators.  

HB 1574 by Wilson – Requires a peace officer to file an arrest affidavit containing a statement of probable cause before the defendant is taken before a magistrate; misdemeanants would be released if the magistrate has not determined whether probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense or if an affidavit meeting certain requirements has not been filed with the court.

HB 1596 by Lozano – Requires the proposed budget of a political subdivision to include a line item indicating expenditures for notices required by law to be published in a newspaper. The line item must allow as clear a comparison as practicable between those expenditures in the proposed budget and the actual expenditures for the same purpose in the preceding year.

HB 1601 by Lozano – Expands the authority of a magistrate of a county in which a person is held in custody due to certain parole violations to release the person on bond.

HB 1676 by White – Establishes a state Office of Capital Appellate Defender to represent certain indigent defendants sentenced to death.

HB 1677 by Israel – Creates the sixteen-member Vision Zero Task Force to study methods to reduce traffic deaths in the state to zero by 2050. The task force, which includes appointments from the governor and the Texas Association of Counties, is required to submit a report to TxDOT by Sept. 1, 2018.

HB 1726 by Cortez – Requires the Health and Human Services Commission to report claims of abuse to a law enforcement agency and mandates joint investigations with sheriffs’ offices or city police departments; the commission must document which law enforcement agencies are unable or unwilling to conduct the joint investigation.

HB 1738 by Bonnen, Greg – Allows a county tax assessor and their employees to voluntarily be registered and certified by the Department of Licensing and Regulation.

HB 1782 by Faircloth – Allows certain individuals, such as the elderly, veterans, or disabled persons, to make installment payments on property taxes without first paying one-fourth of the property taxes owed.

HB 1897 by Dutton – Designates the Harris County jail as polling place and allows inmates who have not been finally convicted of the offense for which they are charged to vote, if eligible. The bill also requires the jail to provide voter registration applications to anyone in custody who requests one if that person would be eligible to vote if not confined to the jail; jail records can be used as identification; the jail is designated as a separate polling place and votes would be processed separately from persons who are voting under regular procedures.

HJR 73 by Burns – A proposed constitutional amendment that renders a legislative mandate adopted on or after Jan. 1, 2018 ineffective if it imposes a mandate on a county or city requiring an expenditure of revenue and does not provide any state appropriations or reimbursement. 

SB 760 by Menéndez – Amends Section 352.051 of the Local Government Code to allow a commissioners court to prohibit or restrict the sale or use of fireworks (and not only those that are “restricted fireworks”) in the unincorporated area of the county without the need for a drought determination.

SB 761 by Menéndez – Authorizes deferred adjudication for certain first-time DWI offenders. Requires the installation of an ignition interlock if deferred adjudication is granted and considers the punishment a conviction for enhancement purposes.

SB 779 by Seliger – Authorizes a court on its own motion to inquire whether a person would like to submit evidence to establish the person’s indigent status for the purposes of allowing the Department of Public Safety to waive all Driver Responsibility Program surcharges for a person who is indigent. See also HB 1430 by Thompson, Senfronia.

SB 800 by Seliger – Enables a school district to contract with a county to contribute resources to pay a portion of costs for approved buildings, including stadiums owned and operated by the county.

SB 836 by Rodríguez – Prohibits a county from entering into a contract with a credit access business such as a motor vehicle title lender.

SB 920 by Whitmire – Allows a person who is a victim of family violence to retrieve certain emergency personal property items as part of an ex parte proceeding in justice court.