The Texas Legislative session ended May 29 with some new requirements set for local governments but also saw a few of the most negative bills fail in the final days.
Senate Bill 1787/House Bill 3921
This legislation would strip a city of its ability to enforce existing regulations regarding lot sizes and setbacks on small lots in residential districts.
- HB 3921 died on the House calendar May 11, the last day a House bill could be considered in the body. Its companion SB 1787 met the same fate May 23, the last day Senate bills could be considered on second reading in the House.
House Bill 2789/Senate Bill 1412
This bill allows accessory dwelling units on single-family or duplex residential lots, limited only by lot size. The bills would allow a unit of some size on any lot. HB 2789 never made it to the House floor.
- SB 1412 failed on the House floor by a vote of 70-68 on the last day Senate bills could be considered in the House.
HOUS BILL 3135
This bill required cities to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of all development rules every 10 years. The legislation provided no methodology for conducting such a study. City officials were concerned about the amount of time required and are not sure there is a consultant who is capable of performing this study.
- HB 3135 passed the House on third reading by one vote, 70-69, but was not voted out of the Senate Local Government Committee.
SENATE BILL 1117
The bill redefined video services so they would not have to pay franchise fees for being transmitted through wires in city-owned right-of-way. Irving and several other cities are suing Netflix and other streaming services for failing to pay franchise fees. SB 1117 would have negated that lawsuit and could have opened the door for other utilities that use city right-of-way to argue they, too, were exempt from franchise fees.
- SB 1117 was killed in the House on a point-of-order called by Rep. John Bryant (D-Dallas) on the final day Senate bills could pass the House.
HOUSE BILL 4082
Prohibits cities from building convention centers, hotels and sports stadiums for use by for-profit entities by issuing debt not approved by voters. Debt issues for any of those projects, as well as several categories of municipal infrastructure enumerated in a bill from the 87th Legislative session, would count against the city’s maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate, which is subject to a 3.5% cap over the previous year.
- HB 4082 is awaiting Governor Greg Abbott’s signature. If signed by June 19 or not vetoed by then, it would go into effect Sept. 1, 2023.
SENATE BILL 224
SB 224 increases the penalties for theft of catalytic converters and makes the process of recycling metal that comes from catalytic converters more difficult. A person must show title to a vehicle if they are attempting to recycle parts from a converter that was removed from that vehicle.
- The legislation is effective July 1, 2023.
House Bill 2127
HB 2127 and SB 814 are sweeping bills that would limit or eliminate local authority in several “fields” where some state regulation exists. While unclear, the legislation is perceived as potentially the most damaging to local government authority in many years. The impact of the legislation is largely unknown, with most city officials assuming that they will only find out in what ways they are restricted from acting after litigation takes place.
The “fields” pre-empted include: the Agriculture Code, the Natural Resources Code, the Finance Code, the Occupations Code and the Transportation Code, among others. A significant amount of time has been spent by staff in Irving and other cities trying to understand what the new limits are. Testimony in both the House committee where the bill was first heard and on the House floor did not clarify how this legislation may affect local government actions.
A change in the Senate removed liability for individual city employees who might try to enforce a restricted ordinance or regulation, but waives immunity for the city if someone sues based on a violation of the bill.
- Governor Abbott has indicated he will sign the bill, which was sent to him May 24. It is effective Sept. 1, 2023.
Senators who represent Irving
House members who represent Irving