HBA-SEP H.B. 3299 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3299 By: Walker Natural Resources 3/30/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Texas faces a difficult challenge in developing water policies that serve both state and regional interests. The Texas Constitution authorizes the creation of various types of districts to plan, develop, and regulate the use of water for the public health, safety, and welfare. Amendments to the Water Code may facilitate more efficient operation of those districts. House Bill 3299 amends provisions regarding general law districts, water control and improvement districts, municipal utility districts, fresh water supply districts, and levee improvement districts. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 3299 amends the Water and Local Government codes relating to the general powers and authority of water districts. The bill amends the Water Code to increase, from $100 to $150, the amount to which a director of a general law district (district) is entitled to for daily performance of duties (Sec. 49.060). A district, at a confirmation and director election is authorized to submit to the qualified district voters the proposition of entering into and implementing a fire department operation plan (Sec. 49.102). A district's authorization to issue bonds remains in effect after the election unless the district is dissolved or annexed by another district (Sec. 49.106). Provisions regarding the submission of an appraisal roll to a governing body, effective and rollback tax rates, tax rate, and election to repeal a tax increase exceeding the rollback tax rate do not apply to a tax levied and collected for payment of the interest on and principal bonds issued by a district or made under certain contracts (Secs. 49.107 and 49.108). The bill specifies that the board of directors (board) of a district is authorized to allow, by resolution, wire transfers. If the wire transfer is to an account not in the name of the district, the wire transfer instructions must be signed by at least a majority of the directors (Sec. 49.151). The bill removes the provision preventing the district from paying interest during construction out of available district funds not to exceed three years after acceptance of the project (Sec. 49.155). In any proceeding concerning the validity of the creation of a district or the annexation of property by a district, a certificate of ownership as certified by the central appraisal district of the county or counties in which the property is located creates a presumption of ownership. On request by a district, the central appraisal district of the county or counties in which the district is located is required to furnish certificates of ownership and is authorized to charge reasonable recovery fees (Sec. 49.184). The bill sets forth exceptions to the applicability of provisions regarding governmental action affecting private property rights (Sec. 49.212). A district or water supply corporation is authorized to require a service applicant and a developer to grant a permanent recorded easement and to issue bonds, notes, or other obligations to acquire property which is not subject to assessments, charges, fees, or dues imposed by a nonprofit organization (Sec. 49.218). The bill authorizes the district to provide for a sanitary sewer system and to require property owners to connect to the sewer system (Sec. 49.234). The bill provides that the payment, performance, and bid bonding requirements do not apply to a contract for the purchase of equipment, materials, or machinery (equipment) not otherwise incorporated into a construction project (Sec. 49.271). If changes in plans or specifications are necessary after the performance of a construction or equipment contract is begun, the board is authorized to approve orders making the changes. The aggregate of the change orders is prohibited from increasing the original contract price by more than 10 percent. The bill provides that the board is not required to advertise or seek competitive bids for the repair of district facilities if the extent of the repair cannot be readily ascertained or does not lend itself to competitive bidding, rather than if the cost of repair is less than or equal to advertising requirements (Sec. 49.273). The bill sets forth provisions regarding the determination of a district's prevailing wage rate (Sec. 49.279). The bill authorizes a district to add or exclude land after a district is created and before a confirmation election is held (Sec. 49.315). Provisions regarding unclaimed property do not apply to any personal property held by a district that has not been dissolved by order of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) (Sec. 49.327). The bill updates provisions relating to the authority of the district's operation and maintenance of fire departments regarding the issuance of bonds, the imposition of mandatory fees, the purchase of land, employment contracts, an operation plan, public hearings and posting, and voluntary contributions (Sec. 49.351). The bill authorizes a district to acquire recreational facilities and obtain funds to develop and maintain them and to charge fees directly to the users of recreational facilities and to water and wastewater customers of the district for such purposes. A district is prohibited from issuing bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to pay for the development and maintenance of recreational facilities (Secs. 49.461-49.464). The bill requires the board, by rule, to establish standards for the development and maintenance of recreational facilities and for the allocation of a district's funds for such (Sec. 49.465). The bill authorizes a water control and improvement district to adopt and enforce reasonable rules and regulations to further the water control and improvement district's purpose (Sec. 51.122). The bill provides that a person who violates a regulation adopted by a water control and improvement district commits a Class C misdemeanor (Sec. 51. 221). The bill removes the provision providing that the tax assessor and collector is elected with the supervisors of the fresh water supply district board (Sec. 53.021). The bill repeals provisions regarding the ballot for election relating to fresh water supply districts (Sec. 53.024). The bill specifies that a municipal utility district (MUD) is authorized to purchase and install street or security lighting within public utility easements or public rights-of-way within the MUD's boundaries. The bill removes the provision providing that such street or security lighting facilities must have been constructed by an owner or developer of property within such a MUD and must have been required by a city as a condition to the city granting its consent to the creation of the MUD. The bill also specifies that such a MUD is prohibited from issuing bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to pay for the purchase, installation, and maintenance of street security or lighting (Sec. 54.236). The bill adds landscaping, parkways, greenbelts, sidewalks, trails, public right-of-way beautification projects, and associated street and security lighting to the definition of "recreational facilities" in regard to MUDs (Sec. 54.772). The bill specifies that a MUD is prohibited from issuing bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to pay for the development and maintenance of recreational facilities (Sec. 54.774). The bill also specifies that a levee improvement district is authorized to adopt and enforce rules and regulations to further the district's purpose (Secs. 57.092 and 57.093). A municipality, without an election, is authorized to sell to a water district, a water or sewer system owned by the municipality (Sec. 402.908). EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.