Passed 84th Regular Session:
Aviation and Space
- SB 458 Relating to the aerospace and aviation office of the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office and to the aerospace and aviation advisory committee.
Synopsis: S.B. 458 amends the Government Code to expand the duties of the aerospace and aviation office of the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office (TEDTO) to include, as part of the required industry-specific strategic plan to promote the retention, development, and expansion of aerospace and aviation industry facilities in Texas, the development of policy initiatives or recommendations. S.B. 458 requires the aerospace and aviation office to make specific short-term and long-term statutory, administrative, and budget-related recommendations to the legislature and the governor regarding those policy initiatives and reforms. The bill requires the short-term recommendations to include a plan for state action for implementation beginning not later than September 1, 2017, and requires the plan’s initiatives and reforms to be fully implemented by September 1, 2020.
S.B. 458 requires the aerospace and aviation office, not later than December 1 of each even numbered year, to submit to the legislature and governor, in printed or electronic form, a report detailing the actions taken by the office in carrying out the policy initiatives and reforms to further the purposes of the industry-specific strategic plan as specified in the office’s recommendations.
- SB 505 Relating to painting and marking requirements for certain towers; creating an offense.
Synopsis: S.B. 505 amends the Transportation Code to require a meteorological evaluation tower that is at least 50 feet but not more than 200 feet in height above ground level to be painted in bands of aviation orange and white and have aviation orange marker balls installed and displayed. The bill prohibits such a tower from being supported by certain guy wires. The bill makes it a Class C misdemeanor to own, operate, or erect a meteorological evaluation tower in violation of the bill’s provisions and enhances the penalty to a Class B misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that as a result of the commission of the offense a collision with the tower occurred causing bodily injury or death to another person. The bill provides for notice and registration of meteorological evaluation towers with the Texas Department of Transportation.
- SB 679 Relating to public meetings of joint airport boards.
Synopsis: S.B. 679 amends the Government Code to expand the definition of “governmental body,” for purposes of the state’s open meetings law, to include a joint airport board and to require such a joint airport board to post notice of each meeting of the board on a physical or electronic bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the board’s administrative offices and concurrently on the board’s website.
- SB 1396 Relating to the tax on the sale and use of aircraft; imposing a tax; providing civil and criminal penalties.
Synopsis: S.B. 1396 amends the Tax Code to include in the definition of “sale for resale” an aircraft purchased for the purpose of leasing, renting, or reselling to another person in the United States or Mexico in the form in which it was acquired. Leasing or renting the aircraft would include the transfer of operational control — i.e., authority over initiating, conducting, or terminating a flight — pursuant to a written lease in exchange for some consideration.
The bill specifies other conditions under which an aircraft brought to, stored, or used in Texas would not be subject to sales tax, including an aircraft:
- brought to Texas for the purpose of being completed, repaired, remodeled, or restored;
- brought to Texas by a person who had not acquired it directly from a seller by means of a purchase; and
- that made more than half of its departures from locations outside the state for a year after either the acquisition of the aircraft or its first flight containing passengers or property, whichever date was later.
Under the bill, the purchase, sale, or use of an aircraft operated under certain fractional ownership programs are not subject to the sales tax.
- SB 1455 Relating to certain required reports, plans, and other documents prepared by state agencies and institutions of higher education.
Synopsis: The bill amends various statutes including the Education, Government, Health and Safety, and Tax Codes to modify or eliminate certain required reports and other documents prepared by state agencies and institutions of higher education. The bill would have a positive but not significant fiscal impact to the state. As the process each agency uses to produce its statutorily required reports is unique, quantifying the staff time saved, printing costs, and storage costs saved by eliminating unnecessary reports cannot be quantified. Eliminating reports assessed as unnecessary is unlikely to lead to reductions in staff, but eliminating superfluous reporting requirements would enable an increase in agency productivity.
- HB 1481 Relating to prohibiting the operation of an unmanned aircraft over certain facilities; creating a criminal offense.
Synopsis: House Bill 1481 amends the Government Code to establish the Class B misdemeanor offense of operating an unmanned aircraft over or near a critical infrastructure facility. Critical infrastructure is defined as:
- petroleum or alumina refineries;
- electrical power generating facilities, substations, switching stations, or electrical control centers;
- above-ground oil, gas, or chemical pipelines;
- chemical, polymer, or rubber manufacturing facilities;
- water intake structures, water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and pump stations;
- natural gas compressor stations; liquid natural gas terminals or storage facilities;
- telecommunications central switching offices;
- ports, railroad switching yards, trucking terminals, or other freight transportation facilities;
- gas processing plants;
- transmission facilities used by a federally licensed radio or television stations;
- certain steelmaking facilities; and
- dams classified as a high hazard by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
7. HB 3628 Relating to the authority of the Department of Public Safety to adopt rules governing the use of unmanned aircraft in the Capitol Complex; creating a criminal offense.
Synopsis: The bill amends the Government Code to provide the director of the Department of Public Safety with the discretion to prohibit or authorize the use of unmanned aircraft in the Capitol Complex. Any costs associated with implementing the bill could be absorbed within current resources.
- HB 1422 Relating to the restoration of expired eminent domain authority of rural rail transportation districts.
Synopsis: House Bill 1422 amends the Transportation Code to restore the power of eminent domain, which expired as prescribed by law, to certain rural rail transportation districts located in a county adjacent to a county in which the Port of Corpus Christi Authority is located.
- HB 2946 Relating to certain laws governing the intersections of railroad tracks and public roadways.
H.B. 2946 repeals Transportation Code provisions relating to a statewide toll-free telephone service maintained by the Department of Public Safety to report malfunctions of mechanical safety devices at intersections of a railroad track and a public road. The bill also repealed Transportation Code relating to the required use of a bell and whistle or siren by locomotives at railroad crossings and the related offense for a violation of the required use. Lastly, the bill repealed Transportation Code relating to an offense committed by a railway company if a company train obstructs for more than 10 minutes a street, railroad crossing, or public highway; and relating to the authority of the governing body of a municipality to grant a franchise to a railway company to obstruct a certain street crossing by a passenger train for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, mail, express, or freight for longer than 10 minutes. (Sections 471.003, 471.006, 471.007 and 471.008, Transportation Code)
Telecommuting (none passed)
Water and Ports
- HB 1716 Relating to the term for a lease of land owned by certain navigation districts.
Synopsis: H.B. 1716 amends the Water Code by increasing the maximum term for which the navigation and canal commissions of certain navigation districts may lease the surface of land from 30 years to 50 years by entry of an order on the commission’s minutes and the execution of a lease in the manner provided by the original order
- HB 3777 Relating to the establishment and governance of certain regional transportation authorities
Synopsis: The bill amends the Transportation and Tax Codes’ population brackets in certain Subchapters and modifies the governance of certain regional transportation authorities. The bill would grant title to all real estate to an authority, either partially or fully owned by the authority and located within a municipality with a population of 10,000 or less, if that municipality withdraws from the authority by election. The bill provides criteria for determining the total financial obligations of the withdrawn entity to the authority applicable to an election to withdraw on or before September 1, 2015 and expires August 31, 2016.