Bills of Interest

March 08, 2019

Legislative News

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

HB 5 by Phelan – Requires the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to develop a catastrophic debris management plan and guide for political subdivisions in disaster recovery efforts. Provides for information in the plan on debris removal before and after a disaster, along with training and contracting for proper debris removal. Obliges TDEM to develop a model contract for debris removal for political subdivision use and establish a study group for wet debris removal. Establishes a work group to study local restrictions that impede disaster recovery efforts.

HB 13 by Phelan – Creates a flood infrastructure fund and makes an appropriation for flood control planning, mitigation and infrastructure projects. Prioritizes the relative need of political subdivisions for money from the fund to counties with a median household income not greater than 85 percent of the median state household income. Includes a 10-year dam repair and maintenance plan.

HB 14 by Stucky – Provides higher education student loan repayment assistance for peace officers in an amount not to exceed $20,000 per person.

HB 1028 by Guillen – Adds burglary of a coin operated machine and burglary of a vehicle to offenses with enhanced punishments when committed in disaster areas or evacuation zones.

HB 1174 by Reynolds – Enables a county assistance district to make a loan to a county for assistance for performing one or more functions the district is authorized to perform.

HB 1257 by Rosenthal – Repeals the statute prohibiting counties from regulating the rental or leasing of housing accommodations. See also HB 2187 by Rodriguez.

HB 1721 by Israel– Changes certain alcohol-related offenses committed by minors from criminal violations to civil violations. Authorizes a state civil penalty for those violations.

HB 1805 by Murr – Expands the use of the Justice Court Technology Fund and renames the fund the Justice Court Assistance and Technology Fund. Additional uses allowed include the cost of  salaries and benefits for court personnel as well as the costs of continuing education for court personnel. See also SB 1840 by Hinojosa.

HB 2063 by Stickland – Allows the sale of fireworks for certain time periods for Texas Independence Day and San Jacinto Day without commissioners court approval; removes the geographic restriction for the sale of fireworks for Cinco de Mayo.

HB 2260 by King, Tracy – Authorizes any magistrate to issue a search warrant to collect a blood specimen from certain persons arrested for certain intoxication offenses; under current law, a magistrate must be a licensed attorney to issue such a warrant.

HB 2300 by Morrison – Creates a disaster recovery loan program for political subdivisions located in declared disaster areas. Political subdivisions may apply for a loan if the Texas Department of Emergency Management and FEMA determine the estimated cost to rebuild infrastructure damaged in the disaster is greater than 50 percent of the political subdivision’s total revenue for the current year.

HB 2491 by Wu – Prohibits the commitment of juveniles to the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice for state jail felony offenses.

HB 2651 by Lang – Increases fee paid by the defendant convicted of a felony or misdemeanor for the cost of services performed by peace officers to issue and process an arrest warrant from $50 to $75. See also SB 171 by Perry.

HB 2683 by Geren – Allows for the transfer or sale of a law enforcement dog to a peace officer, an honorably retired peace officer, or a survivor of a deceased peace officer; the bill is similar to the federal statute for the retirement of U.S. military working dogs.

SB 6 by Kolkhorst – Creates the disaster response and recovery guide through the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) to provide a comprehensive approach to disaster recovery for local officials by contracting for debris removal; obtaining federal disaster funding; coordinating the availability and construction of short-term housing and long-term housing; and obtaining assistance from local, state and federal volunteer organizations. Includes a catastrophic debris management plan and training for clearance and disposal of disaster debris for political subdivisions, creates a study group on preventing the creation of wet debris following a disaster, and creates an emergency management work group for enhancing the training and credentialing of emergency management directors and emergency management coordinators.

SB 7 by Creighton – Creates the flood infrastructure fund that hopes to withdraw $900 million from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund to help local officials with matching dollars needed to draw down billions more in federal recovery funds. About $200 million of the $900 million in SB 7 would go to draw down federal funds for shoring up coastal levees.

SB 8 by Perry – Creates a statewide flood plan hoping to draw down $150 million from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund to repair the state’s 500 high-hazard dams. SB 8 would include a statewide ranked list of ongoing and proposed flood control and mitigation projects and strategies. The legislation also designates flood planning regions corresponding to each river basin for eventual possible negative effects on a neighboring area. Also includes a 10 year dam repair plan to be delivered to the Texas Water Development Board.

SB 13 by Creighton – Creates a moratorium of two years before a former member of the legislature can lobby and precludes a registered lobbyist from service as a paid elected officer.

SB 20 by Huffman – Restructures the criminal penalties for prostitution and utilizes more community supervision. Defines the offenses of online promotion of prostitution and aggravated online promotion of prostitution; makes changes to the statutes addressing the admission of evidence and orders of nondisclosure for certain victims. See also HB 15 by Thompson, Senfronia.

SB 21 by Huffman – Increases the age at which cigarettes can be legally purchased from 18 to 21.

SB 29 by Hall – Restricts political subdivisions and external service providers (entities that receive funds from a political subdivision for representing the subdivision before the legislature) from paying a lobbyist.

SB 30 by Birdwell – Requires each specific purpose, for which a bond will be used, to be printed on the ballot as a separate proposition. See also HB 3909 by Phelan.

SB 519 by Zaffirini – Mandates the court to enter an order of limited dissemination of the eviction case information pertaining to the defendant if a judgment was entered in favor of the defendant, the eviction case is/was dismissed without any relief granted to the plaintiff, defendant is/was a residential tenant not in default, or 5 years have passed since the date of the final judgment in the eviction case.

SB 857 by Lucio – Provides that the following individuals shall complete a course of training provided by the Texas Department of Emergency Management of not less than three hours not later than the 180th day after taking their oath of office: (1) an emergency management coordinator, designated by the emergency management director of a county with a population of 500,000 or more, and (2) an elected law enforcement officer or county judge, or appointed public officer who has management or supervisory responsibilities and who has emergency management responsibilities.

SB 1172 by Menéndez – Prohibits a person from carrying a firearm, other than a handgun which the person is licensed to carry, into a law enforcement building. Requires peace officers, when arresting a person, to seize any firearm carried by that person.

SB 1305 by Huffman – Increases the criminal penalty for assault of a pregnant woman. See also HB 902 by Landgraf.

SB 1640 by Watson – Re-codifies a section of the Open Meetings Act that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently voided. Makes it a crime for elected officials to break into small groups to discuss matters in order to avoid a quorum that would trigger the Open Meetings Act. See also HB 3402 by Phelan.