Police Budgets, Liquor Licenses, and Chicken Coops: 23 New State Laws Go into Effect Jan. 1

Police Budgets, Liquor Licenses, and Chicken Coops: 23 New State Laws Go into Effect Jan. 1

Twenty-three new state laws will go into effect in Texas on January 1. All are bills that were passed during the regular legislative session.

Senate Bill (SB) 23 – Dubbed “Back the Blue Act,” SB 23 requires the state’s largest counties to hold elections before significantly slashing police department funding. Although the bill was originally written to include all municipalities and counties, it now only applies to counties with a population of more than one million people.

SB 911 – Before SB 911 went into effect, state law did not have a definition of “restaurant” in terms of alcohol income. When Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars, he distinguished them from restaurants by defining a bar as a business that receives more than 51 percent of its revenue from the sale of alcohol. As a result, restaurants that were restaurants in all other senses of the word had to close if they sold too much alcohol.

This bill creates a clear definition of “restaurant” in the Alcoholic Beverage Code. It also offers restaurants an alternative way to obtain a food and beverage certificate.

In addition, the bill addresses the problems that arose from what could be called another coronavirus phenomenon: the sharp increase in the use of third-party companies for food delivery, such as Uber Eats or DoorDash.

The Texan glass

Under the bill, third-party food delivery services cannot charge restaurants an unsigned fee for delivery or use a restaurant’s brand in a way that involves a connection between the restaurant and the delivery company. Couriers must also remove restaurants from their service if the restaurants request to be removed, and they cannot re-add the restaurants without express consent.

SB 855 – While Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) made headlines for his efforts to curb alleged censorship by social media giants, he also authored a bill targeting petty Internet criminals. In order to maintain websites to the same standards as physical companies for the distribution of music or videos, SB 855 requires that website operators who distribute music or videos to Texas consumers clearly display their correct name, physical address, telephone number and email. -email address on the website. It also authorizes the owners of the distributed audio or video to sue the website operator for violations of this law.

House of Representatives Bill (HB) 2730: Aiming to bring reform to the eminent domain process, HB 2730 adds several new provisions to current law with a special focus on private companies using eminent domain to acquire land from private owners.

First, it requires the attorney general to review the Owner’s Bill of Rights (LOBR) every two years with public comment. After January 1, the LOBR will also include the right to file a complaint against a registered easement or right-of-way agent.

Right-of-way agents will also have to receive a new education with the Texas Real Estate Commission under the law. Land agents who offer owners improper offers of compensation may have their licenses revoked under the same law that allows the commission to discipline them for dishonest dealings or fraud.

The bill also sets new requirements for initial offerings. For example, each new initial offering document must include a copy of the LOBR, contact information for the bidding entity, and a statement in large bold print indicating whether the compensation includes damage to the owner’s remaining property or an appraisal of the property. . These requirements apply to both public and private entities.

HB 115 – Originally intended to be a small adjustment to an existing tax exemption for homeless shelters, HB 115 quickly became a group effort for lawmakers seeking to reform the property tax code. Before January 1, the relevant part of the state tax code exempted homeless shelters from paying property taxes if they were owned by a charitable group that had existed for at least twelve years. A qualified shelter also had to be located on or “consist of a single campus” in a municipality of between 750,000 and 850,000 people.

The new law toughens and specifies this exemption, raising the standard that shelters must meet to qualify for the tax exemption. After January 1, homeless shelters must be owned by a charitable group that has been around for 20 years, not 12, if they are in a county with more than 1 million and fewer than 1.5 million people. If the hostels are in a municipality with a population between 100,000 and 150,000 inhabitants, they can qualify for the tax exemption if they are owned by a charitable group that has existed for two years.

Four of the five authors of the bill represent Travis County: Representatives Eddie Rodríguez (D-Austin), Sheryl Cole (D-Austin), Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) and Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin). The fifth author is Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland).

The legislature also made several minor changes to the property tax law, primarily with the aim of easing the tax burden.

Before January 1, the state tax code allowed religious organizations to qualify for property tax exemptions for no more than six years. HB 1197 extends this time period to 10 years.

In an effort to reduce property taxes, HB 2535 directs the property value assessor to exclude chicken coops and rabbit pens used for personal food consumption from the property value.

HB 3971 requires the appraiser to consider the effect of a high appraisal – and, in turn, high taxes – on the owner’s ability to maintain a historic property.

Previously, the state tax code exempted certain properties from property taxes if their value was less than $ 500. SB 1499 raises this threshold to $ 2,500, allowing more homeowners to receive a tax break.

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