By Lindsay Starr Platt, Correspondent
At the beginning of this year fifty bills were signed in the Texas Legislature, 84th Legislature Regular Session. The following bills were effective on January 1, 2016.
HB 32 Relating to the computation and rates of the franchise tax; decreasing tax rates.
HB 127 Relating to the issuance of specialty license plates to honor recipients of the Commendation Medal.
HB 275 Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of farm products.
HB 283 Relating to the requirement that certain governmental bodies make audio and video recordings of open meetings available on the Internet.
HB 315 Relating to the issuance of “In God We Trust” specialty license plates.
HB 706 Relating to the procedure for claiming an exemption from ad valorem taxation of property on which a solar or wind-powered energy device is installed or constructed.
HB 789 Relating to license plates issued to retired members of the military.
HB 792 Relating to the issuance of specialty license plates for antique buses.
HB 830 Relating to the issuance of Alamo specialty license plates.
HB 923 Relating to the issuance of 36th Infantry Division specialty license plates and souvenir license plates.
HB 991 Relating to the display of notice of federal and state tax rates for motor fuel sold at retail.
HB 994 Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of property used to collect, process, and deliver landfill-generated gas.
HB 1022 Relating to the eligibility for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of certain persons with a life estate in the homestead property.
HB 1128 Relating to the issuance of specialty license plates for recipients of the Combat Action Badge, Medal, or Ribbon.
HB 1221 Relating to seller’s disclosures in connection with residential real property subject to groundwater regulation.
HB 1334 Relating to the appeal of a residential eviction suit.
HB 1364 Relating to the issuance of specialty license plates to honor recipients of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
HB 1378 Relating to the fiscal transparency and accountability of political subdivisions.
HB 1510 Relating to liability of persons who lease dwellings to persons with criminal records.
HB 1683 Relating to an identifying number assigned to a notary public by the secretary of state.
HB 1702 Relating to the elimination of the fee for the Gold Star mother, father, spouse, or family member specialty license plate.
HB 1733 Relating to automobile liability insurance for transportation network company drivers.
HB 1953 Relating to the deadline for counties and municipalities to provide notice of a proposed property tax rate.
HB 2083 Relating to the determination of the appraised value of property for purposes of an ad valorem tax protest or appeal.
HB 2123 Relating to participation of the state military forces in the state group benefits program.
HB 2207 Relating to the foreclosure sale of property subject to an oil or gas lease.
HB 2293 Relating to the certification by the comptroller to the commissioner of education of the taxable value of property in each school district.
HB 2404 Relating to certain security devices for residential tenancies.
HB 2891 Relating to certain filing and reporting requirements for certain taxable entities.
HB 3230 Relating to the determination of eligible costs and expenses for purposes of the franchise tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic structures.
HB 3283 Relating to contributions and registrations for an anatomical gift registry; authorizing a fee.
HB 3364 Relating to the appeal of a judgment in an eviction suit.
HB 3610 Relating to the issuance of Texas Juneteenth specialty license plates.
HB 3623 Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of property owned by the National Hispanic Institute.
HB 3685 Relating to the employment status of certain individuals engaged in rehabilitative work-training programs.
HB 3951 Relating to the eligibility of persons to participate in an ad valorem tax sale of real property; creating a criminal offense.
HB 3994 Relating to notice of and consent to an abortion for a minor and associated requirements; amending provisions subject to a criminal penalty.
HB 4099 Relating to the issuance of K9s4COPs specialty license plates.
SB 24 Relating to training for members of the governing board of a public institution of higher education.
SB 272 Relating to making a voluntary contribution to the Special Olympics Texas fund when registering a motor vehicle or renewing a motor vehicle registration.
SB 332 Relating to the use of maximum allowable cost lists related to pharmacy benefits.
SB 918 Relating to the procedure for claiming an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the property of a veteran’s organization.
SB 1007 Relating to the practices and professions regulated by the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board.
SB 1081 Relating to the disclosure of certain information under a consolidated insurance program.
SB 1367 Relating to certain obligations of and limitations on landlords.
SB 1394 Relating to the presentation of evidence in appraisal review board hearings on protests.
SB 1420 Relating to notices of appraised value sent to property owners by the chief appraisers of appraisal districts.
SB 1589 Relating to requirements for reporting unclaimed mineral proceeds to the comptroller of public accounts.
SB 1985 Relating to the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of a real property interest in oil or gas in place.
SB 1987 Relating to the issuance of specialty license plates for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing and to deaf or hard of hearing driver training for peace officers; authorizing a fee.
Some of the bills are described with more detail below:
Open Carry Handgun Law (HB 910), which will take effect on January 1st, 2016, will allow people with Concealed Handgun Licenses to openly carry a handgun in a belt or shoulder holster. Open carry (HB 910) Licensed handgun owners can openly carry holstered handguns everywhere starting January 1, 2016. Businesses can prohibit handguns in their stores, but now they need a new sign to legally keep guns out.
Epinephrine (HB 1550) Rules for pharmacists administering epinephrine through an auto-injector device. According to the rules epinephrine may be administered in emergency cases.
Driver’s licenses (HB 1888) Fee authorized, penalty increased for commercial driver’s licenses and learner’s permits operating vehicles. Under this law restrictions have been made to learner’s permit holders, who may only drive commercial motor vehicles.
Alcoholic Beverage Code (HB 1905) Repeal of certain state and local taxes. Airlines and trains are exempt from a tax on serving alcohol.
Residential Taxes (HB 2259) Conditions removed for imposing taxes on residential properties.
Health services (SB 200) Continuing functions of the Health and Human Services Commission, who provide health services for Texans. The commission specifically focuses on preventing and early intervention for health problems.
Health task forces (SB 277) Under this law the Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Oversight Task Force, and The Advisory Committee on Inpatient Mental Health Services has been abolished. State agencies inspecting health facilities must follow the checklist provided by the inspection department.
Real estate (SB 699) Regulation of real estate professionals by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Changes made to buying, and selling options for real estate. Advice advised to real estate owners looking to short sell.
Liability companies (SB 859) Each partner in a limited liability partnership must pay $200 on the day they file their annual reports. Reports sent in past the due date must pay “$200 for the number of partners as of May 31” of the year the report was due.
Franchise tax (SB 1049) Exemptions from the tax on franchises owned by veterans.
Practices in court (SB 1139) Increased filing fees, composing juvenile boards, how the Texas government judicial branch administers and practices in court.
Tax procedures (SB 1760) Property tax forms may be signed electronically. A property owner may designate a lessee to act on their behalf.
Liability Insurance for Uber and Lyft Drivers (HB 1733) Drivers for Uber and Lyft (or any transportation network company) must maintain liability insurance amounting to $50,000 for bodily injury or death of each person in a car accident, $100,000 for bodily injury or death per incident, $25,000 for damage to property of others, uninsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection, per House Bill 1733, effective January 1, 2016.
Leases With No Security Deposit (SB 1367), which will take effect on January 1, 2016, states that if a tenant signs a lease with no security deposit and is liable for damages on surrender of the property, the landlord must notify the tenant on or before the date where the matter is referred to a consumer reporting agency or third party debt collector.
Some thoughts from community members on the new bills:
• “I think it is an important step towards restoring our rights in Texas. HB910 did not restore any rights. It merely removed a restriction for license holders to conceal. Businesses should do their homework instead of overreacting to the hype. Open carry hasn’t been an issue in other states with people freaking out at the sight of a handgun. Licensed open carriers are not a threat,” said, Retired First Sergeant CJ Grisham, president, Open Carry Texas.
• “I carry that anyway (liability insurance, uninsured motorist protection, and personal injury protection.) That’s just being responsible and protecting my assets. Of course, in the event of an accident while on a trip with a posting passenger or on the way to picking one up, it is considered a commercial event and my insurance would not pay. So the bill (HB 1733) is mute. Uber does carry insurance for its drivers as they should in such cases. If you look at the egregious restrictions and regulations that the city of Austin city council passed 7-2 two weeks ago, this government overreach only discourages the soccer moms who are just passing time driving once a week and the business professionals who pick up someone in the way to and from work by making it a hassle. That is counter to the whole idea and spirit of ridesharing. Anyone who has ill intentions will do whatever necessary to follow through with their deceitful plots,” commented, Larry Howell, independent designated driver, Uber. “Uber runs extensive background checks before approving a driver to use their app and drive Uber the Uber brand.”