June 20, 2017
Join the Plano Chamber of Commerce for our monthly Public Policy Committee meeting. This committee discusses legislation and issues that affect the business community. Attended by business professionals, elected officials, and key community representatives, these meetings are open to all members in good standing. CLICK HERE for more details.
On June 15, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott vetoed 50 bills. That compares to:
  • 2015 - 43 bills and one concurrent resolution for a total of 44 vetoed by Governor Greg Abbott (84th Regular Session)
  • 2013 - 28 bills vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (83rd Regular Session)
  • 2011 - 25 bills vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (82nd Regular Session)
  • 2009 - 39 bills and concurrent resolutions vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (81st Regular Session)
  • 2007 - 56 bills and concurrent resolutions vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (80th Regular Session)
  • 2005 - 20 bills vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (79th Regular Session)
  • 2003 - 50 bills vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (78th Regular Session)
  • 2001 - 83 bills vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (77th Regular Session)
  • 1999 - 34 bills and resolutions vetoed by Governor George W. Bush (76th Regular Session)
  • 1997 - 38 bills and resolutions vetoed by Governor George W. Bush (75th Regular Session)
HB 462 
HB 462 by Tony Dale and Judith Zaffirini requires proposed state agency rules to include the bill number for the legislation that enacted the statutory or other authority under which the rule is proposed. It requires state agencies proposing new rules to notify the authors and sponsors of legislation the proposed rule is intended to implement that rules are being proposed. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : " Agency rulemaking is an executive branch function, not a legislative function. Transparency in rulemaking is important, but it should not come at the expense of legislative encroachment on executive branch authority. Additionally, HB 462 has the potential to slow down the executive rulemaking process rather than enhance it."
HB 2463 
HB 2463 by Four Price and Bryan Hughes requires state agencies to develop written succession plans:
  • identifying and developing mechanisms to ensure the transfer of institutional knowledge from experienced and retiring employees who are not appointed by the governor or the governing body of the state agency to succeeding employees; and
  • identifying the skills and abilities necessary for the development of the succeeding employees.
The succession plans must be updated annually and must include a report on the implementation of the mechanisms, skills, and abilities identified and developed in the previous written succession plan. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason: " State agencies should be encouraged to continually consider new ideas and new perspectives in a constant effort to reduce costs and improve service for the taxpayers. While HB 2463 was well-intentioned, its practical effect could have been to encourage a business-as-usual culture in state government. Bureaucracies are too often inclined to resist innovation and place an outsized value on the organization's old way of doing things. State employees should be encouraged to propose better ways to serve the taxpayers, not taught to do their job the way their predecessor did it. Additionally, the purposes of HB 2463 are, in many respects, already achieved by Section 2056.002 of the Government Code, which provides that 'a state agency shall conduct a strategic staffing analysis and develop a workforce plan, according to guidelines developed by the state auditor, to address critical staffing and training needs of the agency, including the need for experienced employees to impart knowledge to their potential successors."
HB 1116  
HB 1166 by Phil Stephenson and Lois Kolkhorst expands to Fort Bend County (current law only applies to Harris County) the ability of electric utilities to enter into agreements to allow public access to premises owned by the utility for recreational use. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason: "I signed HB 931, which extends statewide the provisions of Section 75.022 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code regarding public parks in utility rights of way. Because HB 1166 extended those provisions only to one additional county, it was superfluous and could have caused confusion had it become law."
HB 572
HB 572 by Phil Stephenson and Lois Kolkhorst requires the Texas Department of Agriculture in coordination with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to organize pesticide waste and container collection activities statewide and facilitate the collection of canceled, unregistered, or otherwise unwanted pesticide products and containers. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : " According to the fiscal note on HB 572, the program created by the bill will either result in a cost to the state budget of $2 million over five years, or will result in the Texas Department of Agriculture raising fees to offset the cost. Neither outcome is desirable."
HB 2334  
HB 2334 by Tom Oliverson and Sylvia Garcia makes it an offense to violate a rule adopted under the Flood Control and Insurance Act in a county with a population of more than 75,000. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "HB 2334 would have made it a state law crime to violate flood plain rules issued by political subdivisions. It is currently a Class C misdemeanor to violate various provisions of the Texas Water Code concerning floodplains. This bill would have given localities the ability to expand the contours of this crime merely by adopting local rules and orders. Violation of these local rules and orders is already punishable by a civil penalty. We need not create another crime, particularly one that is a moving target."
HB 2377  
HB 2377 by Lyle Larson and Charles Perry allows a groundwater conservation district (GCD) located over any part of a brackish groundwater zone to adopt rules to govern the issuance of permits for the completion and operation of a well for the withdrawal of brackish groundwater from a designated brackish groundwater production zone. The district is required to adopt rules if the district receives a petition from a person with a legally defined interest in groundwater in the district. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : " HB 2377 sought to authorize groundwater conservation districts to implement special permitting rules relating to the completion and operation of wells for the withdrawal of brackish groundwater. The bill's permitting rules are unduly prescriptive and would create a separate and complex bureaucratic process for the permitting of brackish wells. The Texas Water Development Board already has significant authority in this area, including the ability to designate brackish groundwater production zones and to approve local water management plans. While the development of brackish water resources as a potential means of meeting our state's future water needs is important, HB 2377 went about it the wrong way. The next Legislature should consider a simpler and less bureaucratic way to provide greater access to brackish water."
HB 2378
HB 2378 by Lyle Larson and Charles Perry extends the term of a permit to transfer water out of a groundwater conservation district on or before its expiration to a term that is shorter than the term of an operating permit for the production of water to be transferred that is in effect at the time of the extension. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "HB 2378 would have essentially mandated that export permits issued by groundwater conservation districts be extended indefinitely. An indefinite permit hinders the public from participating in the decision-making of the groundwater conservation district. It does not, however, prevent the groundwater conservation district from changing the terms of the permit unilaterally, a power HB 2378 continues to allow these districts to exercise. Excluding the public, potentially in perpetuity, from the decisions of a groundwater conservation district will reduce transparency and inhibit the district's ability to respond to changed circumstances over time. The next legislature should consider legislation that accomplishes the goals of HB 2378 without its defects."
HB 2798 
HB 2798 by Jessica Farrar and Brandon Creighton allows a county with a population of more than 3.3 million to implement a pilot program to reuse any form of wastewater treated on-site, at a county owned facility for subsurface irrigation and toilet and urinal flushing. It allows the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to adopt rules to ensure that the program does not create a nuisance and does not threaten human health or damage surface water and groundwater quality. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "This legislation is not needed. Domestic wastewater reuse is already authorized under Texas law pursuant to regulations issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality."
HB 2943 
HB 2943 by Lyle Larson and Charles Perry requires the Texas Water Development Board to create a program promoting conservation easements funded by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Easements acquired through the program are required to have a demonstrable impact on water quality control. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "HB 2943 makes several changes to the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, most of which can be administered without the statutory mandates prescribed by this legislation. Such statutory mandates are unnecessary and tie the hands of program administrators, impeding the State's ability to continue the program's positive impacts on the promotion of quality water. The bill also lengthens the allowable term of loans made by the program, thus extending the program's debt liability. Additionally, while conservation easements can serve a valid purpose, using acquisition of easements is not the best use of this particular fund."
HB 3987 
HB 3987 by Lyle Larson and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa authorizes the Texas Water Development Board to use the state participation account of the water development fund to provide financial assistance for the development of a desalination or aquifer storage and recovery facility. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "HB 3987 would have created a new state account to provide taxpayer funding for the acquisition and development of certain water facilities. These facilities are already eligible for state funding under the Texas Water Development Fund state participation account, provided that they cannot be adequately funded with local resources. The purpose of that requirement is to ensure that state resources are used in an efficient manner by denying funding for local projects that already have access to sufficient financial resources. HB 3987 exempts desalination and aquifer facility projects from meeting this financial requirement. Additionally, because current law already authorizes the Texas Water Development Board to provide funding for desalination and aquifer storage and recovery facilities, HB 3987 is largely unnecessary. The next legislature should seek to promote desalination and aquifer projects more effectively."
SB 570
SB 570 by Jose Rodriguez and Armando Walle requires a used or scrap tire generator that stores the tires outdoors on its business premises to store them in a secured, locked or contained manner that protects the tires from theft. It requires the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to require a person who uses more than 1,000 used or scrap tires in a construction project to obtain commission approval before using the tires in the project. It requires a retailer whose customer retains a scrap tire to keep a record of the customer's retention of the tire in accordance with commission rules for at least three years. It requires retailers who take possession of scrap tires from a customer to store or dispose of the scrap tire according to local and state laws. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "SB 570 criminalizes the violation of administrative rules governing the proper disposal of tires. In order to know whether their handling of used tires is a crime or not, Texans would have to consult the Texas Register and the actions of local governments on a regular basis to ensure the rules governing tire disposal have not changed. Surely there are better ways to address the problem of old tires than by creating a new and vaguely defined crime."
SB 1525   
SB 1525 by Charles Perry and Lyle Larson requires the Texas Water Development Board to study water needs and availability in the state and to use the results to produce a comprehensive water resources map. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "The Texas Water Development Board can perform the study mandated by SB 1525 with or without this legislation."
HB 1859 
HB 1859 by Ron Simmons and Van Taylor provides that if a merchant's merchandise is not displayed or offered to consumers primarily for lease under a rental-purchase agreement, the merchant is required to disclose to the consumer before presenting a rental-purchase agreement:
  • the cash price of the merchandise;
  • the amount of the periodic payments under the proposed agreement; and
  • the total number and amount of periodic payments necessary to acquire ownership of the merchandise.
It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "HB 1859 overregulates both retailers and their customers. It would require retail stores to impose elaborate and duplicative paperwork on customers who are interested in rent-to-own agreements. The bill also favors some retailers over others. Its burdensome new requirements would apply only to stores that do not specialize in rent-to-own agreements."
SB  790 
SB 790 by Borris Miles and Donna Howard continues operations of the women's health advisory committee until 2019. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "The Women's Health Advisory Committee was created last session to 'provide recommendations to the Health & Human Services Commission on the consolidation of women's health programs.' By law, the committee is set to expire in September 2017. The committee fulfilled its statutory charge after the women's health programs at HHSC were successfully consolidated under the Healthy Texas Women's Program, which launched in July of 2016. The committee's purpose has been served, and it should be allowed to expire as was promised when it was created last session. In addition, the HHSC executive commissioner is already authorized by the Government Code to maintain advisory committees 'across all major areas of the health and human services system,' so there is no need to continue a particular legislative mandate for a committee that, by law, has achieved its legislative mandate. SB 790 does nothing more than extend the expiration date of a governmental committee that has already successfully completed its mission. Rather than prolong government committees beyond their expiration date, the state should focus on programs that address more clearly identifiable needs, like my call for action to address the maternal mortality rate during the special session."  
HB 961
HB 961 by Justin Rodriguez and Kel Seliger provides for the election of junior college district trustees by a plurality vote if the board of trustees adopts a resolution at least 180 days before the election that a candidate must receive a plurality of the votes cast at the upcoming and subsequent election(s) until rescinded by resolution. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "It is essential that local voters have full opportunity to determine the junior college district board members who make property tax decisions for these districts. HB 961 would have authorized elections for junior college district board seats to be decided by plurality vote without a runoff election. In crowded races, this would result in the election of candidates who received a small percentage of voter support. Those very same crowded races are often the ones where voter interest is highest and dissatisfaction with the incumbent is most acute. Runoff elections ensure that every seat on the board is occupied by someone who received a majority of votes in an election. These elections have important consequences for property owners and for junior colleges. They should not be treated like second-tier elections."

HB 61
HB 61 by Ryan Guillen and Carlos Uresti requires the accountability system to take into account the percentage of students formerly receiving special education services who achieved satisfactory academic performance on assessment instruments administered in grades three through eight. It also clarifies statutory provisions regarding the placement and use of video cameras in self-contained classrooms and other settings providing special education services. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "I have signed HB 22 which reforms our public school accountability system to provide additional transparency on school performance. Multiple provisions of HB 61 are based on the existing accountability system, which was overhauled by HB 22. Additionally, parts of HB 61 regarding the use of video cameras in special education classrooms are already adequately addressed by SB 1389, which I have signed."

HB 1500
HB 1500 by Helen Giddings and Royce West adds in the indicators of achievement under the public school accountability system the percentage of students who:
  • earned an associate degree;
  • completed fine arts courses;
  • completed an international baccalaureate course;
  • completed an OnRamps dual enrollment course;
  • received credit by examination;
  • have been promoted to higher grade levels than the grade levels to which the students would ordinarily be assigned; and
  • earned a diploma after not more than three years of high school attendance.
It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason: "In 2015, the Texas Legislature prioritized parental engagement and increased transparency by developing an A through F grading system for school districts and campuses. HB 22, which I have signed, makes positive changes to the existing A through F system. HB 22 ensures students, parents, and taxpayers know how well our schools are doing. It also aligns the new grading system with Texas' sanction and intervention strategies. HB 1500 is based on the existing grading system and conflicts with HB 22."
SB 196 
SB 196 by Sylvia Garcia and Garnet Coleman requires schools that do not have a nurse, school counselor, or librarian assigned to be present at the school for more than 30 consecutive instructional days during the same school year to give written notice to the parents of each student enrolled in the school. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "Our public schools should be focused on educating students in the classroom. SB 196 detracts from that focus and imposes a needless regulatory mandate on schools."
HB 1433
HB 1433 by Hubert Vo and Eddie Lucio, Jr. suspends the statute of limitations during a pending judicial proceeding involving an unemployment compensation claim. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "HB 1433 would provide for tolling of the three-year statute of limitations on civil actions brought by the Texas Workforce Commission against employers. This could extend by many years the period during which employers face potential liability to the government. Texas employers should not face such uncertainty at the hands of government officials. If an employer is alleged to owe money to the Workforce Commission, three years provides more than enough time for the government to file suit to collect any money it may be owed."

SB 744 
SB 744 by Lois Kolkhorst and Dade Phelan requires a municipality that imposes a tree mitigation fee for tree removal that is necessary for development or construction on a person's property to allow that person to apply for a credit for tree planting to offset the amount of the fee. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "Cities telling landowners what they can and cannot do with the trees in their own backyard is an assault on private property rights. SB 744 appears to be a compromise bill that imposes a very minor restriction on some municipal tree ordinances. But in doing so, it gives the imprimatur of state law to the municipal micromanagement of private property, which should be abolished altogether. This bill was well-intentioned, but by the end of the legislative process, it actually ended up doing more to protect cities than it did to protect the rights of property owners. I applaud the bill authors for their efforts, but I believe we can do better for private property owners in the upcoming special session."

SB 1215 
SB 1215 by Bryan Hughes and Hugh Shine establishes a joint interim committee to study construction contracts in this state to the extent the committee determines appropriate. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason : "SB 1215 creates a joint interim committee of the legislature to study construction contracts. The House and Senate can, and do, study topics in the interim without passage of a law. Legislation mandating legislative studies and legislative interim committees is unnecessary. The legislature is free to study construction contracts with or without this bill."
HB 2475  
HB 2475 by Sarah Davis and Paul Bettencourt adds Broadway productions at owned or leased facilities to the list of business structures exempted from the sales tax on amusement services. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason: "HB 2475 would have provided a special sales tax loophole for tickets to Broadway shows. As required by the constitution and by basic fairness, Broadway shows should be treated just like any other comparable event for tax purposes."

HB 2783  
HB 2783 by John Smithee and Kirk Watson allows a court to award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to a plaintiff to whom a governmental body voluntarily releases the requested information after filing an answer to an action brought under the public information law. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason: "By threatening the taxpayers with attorneys' fees, HB 2783 creates an incentive for requestors of public information to sue the government as quickly as possible instead of waiting for the statutorily defined public information process to play out. The stated purposes of this bill could have been achieved without giving lawyers the ability to threaten taxpayer-funded attorneys' fee awards against governmental bodies that are just trying to follow the law."
SB 813 
SB 813
by Bryan Hughes and Morgan Meyer authorizes a claimant to bring an action against a state agency if the state agency takes a regulatory action against the claimant that is frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation. It was VETOED by the governor.

Reason: "State agencies should be held accountable when they abuse their authority. There are many ways to accomplish that goal other than by enticing trial lawyers to sue the taxpayers for damages. SB 813 is well-intentioned, but it subjects the state to the possibility of extensive financial liability. Under the bill, taxpayer liability would be triggered any time a judge decides the state's action is 'unreasonable,' a vague and broad standard that varies with the eye of the beholder. This financial liability would be borne by the taxpayers, not by the bureaucrats who caused the problem. The bill was inspired by legitimate concerns about regulatory overreach, but exposing the state to limitless jury verdicts is not the right solution."
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