The new year in Texas means scores of new laws and bills taking effect. Read about all 24 of the new laws/bills that the Texas Legislature enacted.
House Bill 115 (HB 115)
HB 115 amended the Tax Code to revise the eligibility requirements for the property tax exemption for certain property that is owned by a charitable organization and used to provide housing and related services to certain individuals experiencing homelessness. Among other provisions, the bill makes property located in the City of Midland eligible for the exemption in addition to property located in Travis County, removes the requirement that applicable property be located on or consist of a single campus, and requires that the housing provided on the property be permanent housing.
House Bill 531 (HB 531)
HB 531 amended the Property Code to require the landlord of a residential rental property to provide to the tenant, at or before execution of the lease, a written notice regarding whether the property is located in a 100‑year floodplain and a contingent written notice regarding whether the property has flooded at least once within the last five years. The bill provides for the termination of a lease by a tenant if the landlord does not provide these notices as required by the bill and the tenant suffers a substantial loss or damage to the tenant’s personal property as a result of flooding.
House Bill 1197 (HB 1197)
HB 1197 amended the Tax Code to increase the maximum period for which certain land owned by a religious organization for the purpose of expanding a place of religious worship or constructing a new place of religious worship may be exempted from property taxation from six years to 10 years.
House Bill 1445 (HB 1445)
HB 1445 amended the Tax Code to exclude a medical or dental billing service performed before the original submission of a related insurance claim from the insurance services that are subject to the sales and use tax.
House Bill 1689 (HB 1689)
HB 1689 amended the Insurance Code to set out provisions relating to credit for reinsurance governed by certain covered agreements entered into under the federal Dodd‑Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The bill requires credit to be allowed when reinsurance is ceded to an assuming insurer in a reciprocal jurisdiction, as defined by the bill, if the assuming insurer satisfies the requirements set out by the bill, which do not include any collateral requirements. The bill requires the commissioner of insurance to develop and publish a list of reciprocal jurisdictions and a list of assuming insurers who satisfy the conditions necessary for credit. The bill authorizes the revocation or suspension of an assuming insurer’s eligibility for credit if the commissioner finds that the assuming insurer ceases to meet one or more of the applicable requirements.
House Bill 2237 (HB 2237)
HB 2237 amended the Insurance Code and Property Code to revise and update provisions relating to mechanic’s, contractor’s, and material man’s liens, including provisions regarding the deadlines to file affidavits to claim a lien, the limitation period for bringing suit to foreclose a lien, and deadlines for notices of certain claims. Among other related provisions, the bill did the following:
- updated the definitions of “retainage,” “subcontractor,” and “work”; added a definition of “purported original contractor”; expanded the definitions of “improvement,” “labor,” and “residence”; and revised applicable provisions to reflect the revised definitions;
- clarified that a person has a lien if the person provides certain labor or services under a contract with the owner or the owner’s agent, trustee, receiver, contractor, or subcontractor;
- established that a lien secures payment for the labor done or materials furnished for design, survey, or demolition;
- required an original contractor or a claimant other than an original contractor claiming a lien to file an affidavit with the county clerk in the county where the improvements are located and establishes the dates by which an applicable affidavit must be filed for residential construction projects and projects other than those projects;
- revised provisions requiring the retainage of certain amounts under an original contract for the benefit of lien claimants to instead require funds to be reserved for that benefit;
- changed the date a suit must be brought to foreclose a lien and provides for that period to be extended;
- changed the date by which a claimant must be notified of a motion to remove an invalid or unenforceable lien in an applicable hearing; and
- revised provisions relating to a bond to pay liens or claims by doing the following:
- removing the specification that the bond protects all persons with a claim related to a residential construction project;
- revising notice requirements to perfect a claim against such a bond; and
- establishing that a claimant that meets the notice requirements need not file an affidavit claiming a mechanic’s lien in order to perfect its claim under the bond.
House Bill 2535 (HB 2535)
HB 2535 amended the Tax Code to require a chief appraiser, in determining the market value of the real property, to analyze the effect on that value of chicken coops or rabbit pens used for the non-commercial production of food for personal consumption and to exclude from that value the value of the coops or pens.
House Bill 2730 (HB 2730)
HB 2730 amended the Property Code to revise provisions relating to eminent domain. The bill requires an initial bona fide offer made by an entity with eminent domain authority to include specified items. The bill sets out provisions relating to required terms for an instrument of conveyance for a pipeline right‑of‑way easement or an electric transmission line right‑of‑way easement that is included with an acquisition offer by a private entity, including provisions relating to the negotiation for and agreement to other terms and conditions, and the negotiation for and agreement to the amendment, alteration, or omission of required terms, by a private entity or property owner and a requirement that a private entity notifies the property owner that the property owner may negotiate for specified general terms to be included in an instrument of conveyance. The bill revises provisions relating to the appointment of special commissioners in an eminent domain case to, among other things, set an appointment deadline and provide for the appointment of alternate special commissioners.
House Bill 2730 amends the Government Code to require the landowner’s bill of rights statement prepared by the attorney general regarding eminent domain to notify a property owner that the property owner has the right to file a written complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) regarding alleged misconduct by a registered easement or right‑of‑way agent acting on behalf of the entity exercising eminent domain authority. Among other provisions relating to the landowner’s bill of rights statement, the bill requires the statement to include an addendum of the terms required for an instrument of conveyance, and the terms a property owner may negotiate, as provided by the bill regarding a pipeline right‑of‑way easement or an electric transmission line right‑of‑way easement.
House Bill 2730 amends The Real Estate License Act, Occupations Code, to, among other things, do the following with regard to a certificate of registration for an easement or right‑of‑way agent:
- require the TREC by rule to approve coursework that an applicant must successfully complete to be eligible for the issuance or renewal of a certificate;
- authorize the TREC to issue a probationary certificate; and
- authorize the TREC to suspend or revoke a certificate if the certificate holder directly or indirectly accepts a financial incentive to make an initial offer that the certificate holder knows or should know is lower than the adequate compensation required under the Texas Constitution.
House Bill 3131 (HB 3131)
HB 3131 amended the Business Organizations Code to require the certificate of formation of a domestic corporation, limited partnership, limited liability company, professional association, cooperative, or real estate investment trust to state the entity’s initial mailing address.
House Bill 3777 (HB 3777)
HB 3777 amended the Tax Code to establish that expenditures by a nonprofit corporation exempt from federal income tax and the state franchise tax to rehabilitate a structure that is leased to a tax-exempt entity in a disqualified lease are not costs and expenses eligible for a franchise tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure.
House Bill 3788 (HB 3788)
HB 3788 amended the Tax Code to authorize an appraisal review board member to complete applicable training and continuing education requirements remotely through distance education.
House Bill 3961 (HB 3961)
HB 3961 amended the Health and Safety Code to require a licensed nursing facility, a licensed assisted living facility, or any other long‑term care facility providing care to residents who are assisted by the state long‑term care ombudsman to post on the facility’s website information about the office of the ombudsman, including the office’s statewide toll‑free telephone number and information regarding its role as an advocate for residents of long‑term care facilities. A long‑term care facility may comply with this requirement by posting the required information on the facility’s parent company website if the facility does not maintain a unique website, but is not required to comply if the facility and any parent company do not maintain a website.
House Bill 3971 (HB 3971)
HB 3971 amended the Tax Code to require a chief appraiser who is determining the market value of residential real property located in an area that is zoned or otherwise designated as a historic district under municipal, state, or federal law to consider the effect on the property’s value of any restriction placed by the district on the property owner’s ability to alter, improve, or repair the property.
House Bill 4638 (HB 4638)
HB 4638 amended the Special District Local Laws Code to create the Leander Municipal Management District No. 1 and the New Waverly Municipal Management District No. 1.
Senate Bill 23 (SB 23)
SB 23 amended the Local Government Code to require a county with a population of more than one million to hold an election to obtain voter approval before implementing an applicable reduction or reallocation of funding to or resources for a primary law enforcement agency, excluding a 9‑1‑1 call center. Among other provisions, the bill authorizes a person who believes that the county in which they reside has implemented a proposed reduction or reallocation without the required voter approval to file a complaint with the criminal justice division of the governor’s office and requires the division to provide written notice of a potentially valid complaint to the county that is the subject of the complaint in order to provide the county the opportunity to correct the action that is the subject of the complaint before referring the complaint to the comptroller of public accounts. The bill requires the comptroller, on request by the division, to determine whether a county has implemented the proposed reduction or reallocation without the required voter approval. If the comptroller makes an affirmative determination, the county may not adopt a property tax rate that exceeds the county’s no‑new‑revenue tax rate until the earlier of the date on which each reduction and reallocation that was a subject of the determination has been approved in an election or the date the comptroller issues a written determination that the county has reversed each funding reduction, adjusted for inflation, and personnel reduction or has restored all reallocated funding and resources.
Senate Bill 41 (SB 41)
SB 41 amended the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Family Code, Government Code, Health and Safety Code, Human Resources Code, Local Government Code, Occupations Code, Property Code, and Transportation Code to consolidate certain civil court fees and provide for the allocation of the consolidated fees to specified accounts and funds. The bill, among other provisions, also standardizes procedures for the collection of fees payable to a local government in civil cases, revises requirements relating to the appellate judicial system funds, and makes changes, including increased and new fees, to the statutory fee schedules for district courts and county courts.
Senate Bill 43 (SB 43)
SB 43 amended the Finance Code to establish regulations for the financing of residential real estate purchases by means of a wrap mortgage loan. Accordingly, a person originating or making a wrap mortgage loan, unless otherwise exempt from licensing or registration, must be licensed or registered to originate or make residential mortgage loans under the Residential Mortgage Loan Company Licensing and Registration Act, the Mortgage Banker Registration and Residential Mortgage Loan Originator License Act, or state law regulating consumer loans. The bill, with respect to its wrap mortgage loan provisions, set out provisions regarding the following matters:
- transaction requirements and related remedies;
- duties owed to a wrap borrower;
- a wrap borrower’s rights as those rights are applicable to residential real estate used as the borrower’s residence;
- enforcement of certain registration requirements applicable to a wrap lender required to register as a residential mortgage loan servicer under the Residential Mortgage Loan Servicer Registration Act; and
- enforcement of the bill’s provisions regarding wrap mortgage loan financing through a cease and desist order issued by the savings and mortgage lending commissioner.
SB 43 also revised the eligibility for certain exemptions from licensing or registration under the Residential Mortgage Loan Company Licensing and Registration Act, the Mortgage Banker Registration and Residential Mortgage Loan Originator License Act, and the Texas Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2009 that is based on the number of residential mortgage loans made by, as applicable, an owner of residential real estate or an owner of a dwelling to purchasers of the property during a 12‑consecutive‑month period. The bill establishes that, in determining eligibility for the revised exemptions, two or more owners of residential real estate are considered a single owner for the purpose of computing the number of mortgage loans made within the specified period if any of the owners are an entity or an affiliate of an entity, including a general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, or corporation, as defined by the Business Organizations Code.
Senate Bill 792 (SB 792)
SB 792 amended the Transportation Code to authorize certain veterans who are entitled to disabled veteran specialty license plates and eligible for specialty license plates issued for persons with disabilities to elect to receive disabled veteran license plates that include the international symbol of access. Among other provisions, the bill restricts certain parking privileges granted to recipients of disabled veteran license plates, including the ability to receive disabled parking placards and park for an unlimited period in a parking space or area that is designated specifically for persons with physical disabilities, to those who receive disabled veteran license plates that include the international symbol of access. Except for provisions requiring the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt rules for issuing the plates that include the international symbol of access, the bill takes effect January 1, 2022.
Senate Bill 794 (SB 794)
SB 794 amended the Tax Code to clarify that the individuals entitled to the property tax exemption for totally disabled veterans are the disabled veterans who have been awarded 100 percent disability compensation due to a service‑connected disability and a rating of 100 percent disabled or of individual unemployability, regardless of whether a veteran is actually receiving such compensation.
Senate Bill 855 (SB 855)
SB 855 amended the Business & Commerce Code to require an owner or operator of a website or online service that deals in substantial part in the electronic dissemination of third‑party commercial recordings or audiovisual works and electronically disseminates those recordings or works to Texas consumers to disclose on the website or online service the owner or operator’s true and correct name and contact information. The bill authorizes an owner, assignee, authorized agent, or exclusive licensee of a recording or work that is electronically disseminated in violation of the bill’s provisions to bring a private cause of action to obtain a declaratory judgment and permanent or temporary injunctive relief, but only after giving the violator notice and an opportunity to cure the violation. The bill classifies a violation of the bill’s provisions as a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice.
Senate Bill 911 (SB 911)
SB 911 amended the Alcoholic Beverage Code, Business & Commerce Code, and Local Government Code to regulate third-party food delivery services. The bill, among other provisions, makes a restaurant that holds certain alcoholic beverage permits or licenses eligible for a food and beverage certificate. The bill requires such a delivery service to provide a mechanism for consumer concerns and complaints and authorizes a restaurant to bring an action against a delivery service under certain conditions. The bill prohibits a municipality or county from adopting or enforcing an ordinance or regulation to the extent that the ordinance or regulation affects the required terms of an agreement between a delivery service and a restaurant.
Senate Bill 1280 (SB 1280)
SB 1280 amended The Securities Act, Government Code, to remove the following from the list of provisions a violation of which makes a person offering or selling a security liable to a person buying the security:
- provisions establishing requirements for the content of an application for a permit to qualify securities for sale;
- provisions governing the registration of a security by notification or by coordination; and
- provisions relating to the rules for an exemption from registration requirements.
Senate Bill 1449 (SB 1449)
SB 1449 amended the Tax Code to increase the taxable value threshold below which income‑producing tangible personal property held is entitled to a property tax exemption from $500 to $2,500.
Senate Bill 1524 (SB 1524)
SB 1524 amended the Tax Code to establish a sales and use tax refund pilot program for certain persons who employ at least one apprentice in a qualified apprenticeship for at least seven months during the calendar year.
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