Legislation Effective Jan. 1

December 10, 2021

Legislative News

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All legislation includes a clause stipulating when the law will take effect. The bills described below take effect Jan. 1. More information on these bills and others can be found in TAC’s 2021 Legislative Analysis Report.

House Bill 766 by Rep. Harless (R-Spring): Amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to require a magistrate to notify the sheriff of the conditions of bond in a criminal case involving a violent offense and provide the sheriff with certain information not later than the next business day after the magistrate issues the order.

Additionally, the sheriff, not later than the next business day after receiving the information, must enter the conditions of bond into the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) database. The sheriff must also make a good faith effort to notify by telephone any named person a condition of bond is intended to protect and, if different and applicable, the victim of the alleged offense, that the defendant to whom the order is directed has been released on bond.

The court clerk that issues an order must send a copy of the order to any named person a condition of bond is intended to protect and, if different and applicable, to the victim of the alleged offense that the defendant to whom the order is directed has been released on bond not later than the next business day after the court issues the order.

House Bill 2730 by Rep. Deshotel (D-Beaumont): Amends Property Code provisions related to landowner rights and condemnor obligations in eminent domain proceedings. Directs the “Landowner’s Bill of Rights” to remain at the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and newly requires that the OAG accept public input prior to any modification of its contents. The Landowner’s Bill of Rights is amended to include notice that a property owner has the right to file a complaint for misconduct by a certified easement or right-of-way agent. The required statement to a property owner whose real property may be acquired by a governmental or private entity through eminent domain authority now must include notice of the terms required for an instrument of conveyance under Section 21.0114 (c) of the Property Code and those terms a property owner may negotiate under Section 21.014 (d) of the Property Code.

HB 2730 also requires right-of-way agents to complete additional continuing education in property acquisition procedures, including ethics. The bill also requires condemning entities to provide additional information with an initial offer, including a statement regarding damages to the remainder and an instrument that includes minimum easement terms. HB 2730 institutes procedural timelines upon filing of a condemnation petition, including the timing of appointment of special commissioners.

Senate Bill 23 by Sen. Huffman (R-Houston): Requires a county with a population of more than 1 million to hold an election to reduce a law enforcement agency’s budget that is primarily responsible for policing, investigating and answering calls for service. A reduction occurs if an agency’s percentage of the overall budget from the proposed fiscal year budget is less than the previous fiscal year’s. The bill excludes counties that have declined in population compared with the previous fiscal year and counties affected by certain declared natural disasters. The Criminal Justice Division of the Office of the Governor will field complaints from any citizen alleging a violation has occurred. If the allegation is substantiated, the division must provide the county with an opportunity to correct the action before referring to the comptroller for a determination of whether a reduction has occurred without the required voter approval.

SB 41 by Sen. Zaffirini (D-Laredo): Consolidates civil court costs and filing fees to establish a streamlined process and standardize these costs across the state. Some changes to fees were in response to court rulings that declared these fees unconstitutional. In addition, the legislation provides specific guidance as to the remittance and distribution of the court costs and fees to the state, amount retained locally, allowable expenditures of amount collected and what portion must be deposited into specified dedicated revenue accounts.

For more information on this article, please contact Kelsey Bernstein.