The Texas Legislature adjourned on Monday, May 31, with a guarantee of at least one special legislative session happening later this year. During the 87th session, legislators passed the state budget, the only bill that must pass, as well as preserved state agencies that were up for renewal as part of the state’s Sunset process.
One guaranteed call for a special session will be to redraw Texas House and Senate congressional districts once official census numbers are released by the federal government. This session will likely come in September or October, and other items of interest to state leadership may be added to that session.
Throughout the state’s 87th session, Irving Legislative Insider highlighted bills that could have a negative impact on the community. Below is a status update on those bills as the regular session adjourned.
- Notices of disease at animal shelter, HB 652. City officials from across the state opposed this bill, which would in its original form require notices to anyone who adopted a pet from an animal shelter if a disease was detected within 15 days before or after the adoption. The bill was modified to only posting notices to have your pet checked by a veterinarian, but it still only applied to public-sector animal shelters.
- Final Disposition: Passed the House, but failed to get a committee hearing in the Senate.
- Reduction in inspection fees paid by multifamily property owners, HB 754. The legislation would have eliminated about 90 percent of the revenue Irving uses to conduct annual inspections at all multifamily units.
- Final Disposition: Voted down in the House Committee on Urban Affairs.
- “Police defunding,” HB 1900, SB 23. In different ways, each of these bills imposed restrictions on city management’s ability to manage the budget by requiring that spending on the police department never be reduced from one year to the next. Irving has no plans to reduce police spending, but nevertheless opposes legislative efforts to micromanage city business.
- Final Disposition: Both bills passed, but because of changes made along the way, neither Senate Bill (SB) 23 or House Bill (HB) 1900 applies to the City of Irving. SB 23 only applies to county governments of more than 1 million people, and HB 1900 applies to cities with populations of more than 250,000.
- “Taxpayer funded lobbying,” HB 749, SB 10. These bills would all but eliminate the ability of the city to oppose special-interest legislation, such as the aforementioned bill cutting apartment inspections fees, or to hire consultants based in Austin to get their message out. The legislation prohibited the city from hiring lobbyists and restricted the activities of city officials and city staff to represent the community. Senate Bill (SB) 10 was amended in the House State Affairs Committee to require that the city post lobby contracts on the city’s website, vote on lobby contracts as a standalone item and to post the city’s legislative program on the website.
- Final Disposition: SB 10 passed the Senate and was voted out of committee in the House. However, it was never voted on during the final days of floor action because of proposed amendments that might be damaging to local governments. This bill could be included in a special session.
City legislative efforts this session focused on attempting to keep legislation from passing that would hinder city operations, take away choices at the local level or micromanage city business. The bills mentioned previously - as well as others dealing with development restrictions, building code enforcement and inspections - did not always receive high-profile media attention, but they were the items that city staff and the lobby team focused on this session.