State Capital Highlights

Jan. 1: Opening day for list of new laws



One way to kick off the year 2012 is to look at all, or in this case just a few, of the bills that contain language taking effect as new state laws on Jan. 1.

Thanks to the website <http://> , Internet-using citizens have easy access to a list of 21 such bills. Here are brief statements on a random handful of them:

– HB 843 by Geren/Davis, amends the Tax Code to require the assessor for a taxing unit to deliver a property tax bill by electronic means, if on or before Sept. 15 the individual or entity entitled to receive a tax bill and the assessor enter into an agreement to have it delivered that way.

– HB 1111 by Hartnett/Harris, amends the Property Code to require a justice court, if a tenant files a sworn pauper’s affidavit, to provide to the tenant with a written notice containing certain information relating to the initial deposit of rent the tenant must pay. The new law also specifies that a tenant’s failure to pay rent during an appeal of an eviction case for nonpayment of rent when it becomes due is the failure to pay such rent under the rental agreement.

– HB 1127 by Gutierrez/ Van de Putte, amends the Property Code to require the following notices to contain a prescribed statement regarding the rights or relief that may be available to a tenant, debtor, or owner, as applicable, who is serving on active military duty: a notice to a defendant in a citation for a suit filed by a landlord seeking to recover possession of the premises, a notice in regard to the sale of real property under a deed of trust or other contract lien served on a debtor in default under that trust or lien, and the notice required to be given to a property owner by a property owners’ association before the association is authorized to take certain enforcement action against the owner.

– HB 1456 by Orr/Deuell, amends the Property Code to include a contractor or subcontractor of a property owner or property owner’s agent among the parties entitled to a mechanic’s, contractor’s, or materialman’s lien on the property based on the contractor or subcontractor providing labor and supplies for the installation of landscaping for a house, building, or improvement under a written contract with the owner or owner’s agent. – HB 2510 by Lavender et al./Eltife, amends the Business & Commerce Code to specify that an incandescent light bulb that is manufactured in Texas and remains in Texas is not subject to federal law or federal regulation under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Among the bill’s requirements is that an incandescent light bulb manufactured and sold in Texas must have the words “Made in Texas” clearly stamped on it.

– SB 14 by Fraser et al. and coauthored or cosponsored by all Senate and House Republicans, amends the Election Code relating to requirements to vote, including presenting proof of identification and provides criminal penalties.

– SB 265 by Zaffirini/Carter, amends the Human Resources Code by requiring childcare employees and operators to receive the required training only from knowledgeable individuals with relevant expertise. And, the training must be targeted and relevant to the age of the children who will receive care from the individual receiving training.

– SB 516 by Patrick/Carona/ Uresti/Fletcher, amends the Tax Code relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the appraised value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran. State Comptroller Susan Combs said the surviving spouses would have to apply for the tax exemption through their county appraisal district.

Redistricting legal brief posted

In a Dec. 29 legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. solicitor general said the Texas Legislature’s House and Congressional redistricting maps are discriminatory and in violation of the Voting Rights Act. It was the latest in a series of legal briefs by interested parties in the redistricting case, Perry, et al. v. Perez, et al.

On Jan. 9, the high court will hear arguments on merits from the plaintiffs and defendants.

Tree death count is estimated

The Texas Forest Service reported last month that 100 million to 500 million trees across the state died as a result of unrelenting drought. That is 2 to 10 percent of Texas’ estimated 4.9 billion trees.

ED STERLING the Director of Member Services at Texas Press Association.

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