June 4, 2011 Things that got done in the 82nd Legislature
Here are some of the actions invoked, though, during the Regular Session of the 82nd Legislature:
Texas Railroad Commission
A bill to overhaul the Texas Railroad Commission died in conference committee. It would have changed the name of the agency to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission, and would have reduced the number of commissioners from three to a single elected commissioner. The legislation failed when conferees could not agree on the commission’s governing structure.
Sales Tax Holiday
Legislation that would have ended the Sales Tax Holiday for back-to-school purchases failed during the regular session.
E-retailers Sales Tax
Gov. Perry vetoed legislation that would have tightened rules on when on-line retailers like Amazon.com must collect taxes on Texas sales transactions … but it could come back before the Legislature during the current special session.
Lawmakers took action to make the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund more transparent as a result of an audit report that was critical of the fund’s oversight.
Tort Reform – Loser Pays
Gov. Perry has signed a bill that implements what is referred to as a “loser pays system” for litigation. But … under the legislation that becomes effective Sept 1, even a plaintiff who wins a lawsuit could be responsible for the losing party’s legal bills if the jury verdict is 80 percent or less of what the defendant offered in settlement. Under that scenario … the losing side could collect all of the economic damages awarded by a jury to the plaintiff.
The legislation has been signed by the Governor and will become effective Sept. 1, 2011. It makes it clear that governmental jurisdictions can use their eminent domain powers only for public purposes … not for private benefit. It sets the necessary steps that authorities must take to obtain property through eminent domain that would protect landowners from unreasonably low offers for their land.
The legislation has been sent to Gov. Perry for signature. It makes a major step towards assuring landowners that they have ownership rights to water under their land.
Legislation has passed that eliminates any statutory authority supporting the Trans-Texas Corridor. The highway system was authorized in 2003 by the legislature, but has since been canceled.
Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption
The legislation relates to the exemption from sales and use taxes, including the motor vehicles sales and use tax, for timber and certain items used on a farm, ranch, timber operation, or agricultural aircraft operation. The law would require bonafide Texas farmers and ranchers to secure an agricultural sales tax exemption certificate. A person would be required to submit an application for a sales tax exemption certificate to the Comptroller. The legislation awaits the Governor’s signature.
The legislation would have prohibited local governments from banning law enforcement officers from requesting the immigration status of people who are lawful detained or arrested. The bill died during the regular session, but there is speculation that Gov. Perry will add it to a list of items to be discussed in the special session.
The legislation requires Texans to show photo identification in order to vote in an election. The legislation awaits the Governor’s signature.
The legislation requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram. The legislation has been signed into law by Gov. Perry.
Under legislation that was passed during the waning hours of the regular session of the Legislature, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas will remain stewards of the Alamo … but the Daughters, acting in their capacity as stewards of the Alamo, are under the supervision of the state’s General Land Office. Lawmakers took a keen interest in the Daughter’s stewardship rights after the nonprofit was accused of poor financial planning and mismanagement of the Texas shrine. The state owns the Alamo, but gave the Daughter’s custody of the landmark in 1905.
Legislation that would have established a statewide smoking ban in Texas … is dead.
Texting and Driving
Legislation has been passed and sent to the Governor that would make it unlawful to text while driving. Under the law, testing while driving would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of as much as $200 and up to 30 days in jail. In cases where the texting led to an accident that caused another person’s serious injury or death, the person texting could be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor … 180 days in jail and a fine of $2,000. Texting includes instant messaging and email. The Governor’s office has not confirmed whether Gov. Perry will sign the legislation.
Tags: Wichita County