May 3 , 2019

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:

Bills on the Move:

Uniform General Conditions bill approved 31-0 in Senate 

Bill passes House that limits contingency lawsuits by local governments

Local Preemption (paid sick leave) bills receive testimony in House committee

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Click here  to access past editions of Capitol Roundup.
AGC Texas Chapters

Quote of the Week

"TX House Ways & Means Committee just passed out a great bill that lowers your school property tax rates by more than 15%. It dedicates 100% of a penny increase in sales tax to cutting your property taxes. This is on top of the bill limiting local government raising your taxes."

-Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Abbott made the statement on Twitter on May 1 in reference to a proposal in the Texas House that would raise the state sales tax by one percent and dedicate the new revenue toward property tax relief. The proposal, House Joint Resolution 3, would swap a penny increase in sales taxes for a 15-cent property tax cut. The measure has support from Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.  
Senate gives unanimous approval to Uniform General Conditions bill 

Texas Senators on Tuesday voted 31-0 to pass a bill supported by AGC Texas Building Branch that would allow school districts to utilize "uniform general conditions" (UCG's) in their public school construction contracts. 

Sen. Beverly Powell
The proposal - Senate Bill 1297 sponsored by Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) - now awaits consideration in the House where it has been referred to the Public Education committee. Meanwhile, a similar bill in the House - HB 1416 sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) - has passed committee but has yet to receive a House vote. 

Specifically, the bill would allow state school districts to utilize the same uniform general conditions adopted by the Texas Facilities Commission, which adopts a set of UCG's developed every five years by a statutory workgroup. These provisions set general working conditions to be applied to all state building construction contracts. The
statutory workgroup represents a variety of interests, including engineers, architects, general contractors, subcontractors, state agencies, higher education, HUBs, the AG's office, etc. The most recent UGCs were adopted in 2015.

Sen. Powell's SB 1297 would take advantage of this collaborative process and finished product by taking the
UGCs adopted by the Texas Facilities Commission and using them as a starting point for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to collaboratively develop a set of UGCs that school districts could incorporate into public school construction project contracts.

Senate Bill 1297, along with companion House Bill 1416, is based on HB 3434 from the 2017 session. That bill passed the House Public Education Committee on an 11-0
vote but ran out of time on the House calendar when the session ended. Senate Bill 1297 would go into effect Sept. 1, 2019. 

Click here to read the full text of SB 1297 as passed by the Senate this week. 
House passes bill to curtail contingency-fee lawyers solicitation of local governments
The Texas House on Thursday passed a bill on a 103-39-2 vote that aims to reign in the practice of contingency fee attorneys recruiting local governments to file lawsuits. The measure - House Bill 2826 sponsored by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) - now heads to the Senate. 

Rep. Greg Bonnen
The bill, supported by AGC Texas Building Branch and led by Texans for Lawsuit Reform, developed over concerns that political subdivisions may be subject to overcharging by attorneys who provide legal services under contingency fee contracts. 

There have been calls to bring more transparency to the hiring of attorneys by political subdivisions and to make the contingent fee contracting process for political subdivisions more consistent with the process used by state governmental entities. The bill addresses this issue by establishing requirements for the procurement of contingent fee contracts for legal services by political subdivisions, which include counties, municipalities, public utilities, and local government corporations created to design and plan construction projects. 

The bill requires political subdivisions entering into contingency fee agreements for legal services to approve the contract in an open meeting that discusses the need for obtaining the service, the terms of the contract, and qualifications of the attorney or firm, and the reasons the contract is in the best interests of the residents of the political subdivision.  

The bill also subjects a political subdivision's written findings in approving the contract and the contract itself to public disclosure laws, and the bill requires that the contract be submitted to the Attorney General's Office for approval. If the political subdivision fails to comply with the bill's public notice and hearing requirements, the Attorney General may refuse to approve the contract.  The bill, if approved, would go into effect Sept. 1, 2019.

Click here to read the full text of the bill as passed by the House this week. 
House committee takes testimony on local "paid sick leave" bills
A series of four bills that aim to prohibit local governments from regulating the terms of employment for private employers received hearings in a House committee this week after all four measures passed the Senate earlier this session. The bills address local ordinances relating to paid sick leave along with several other employment rules and regulations. 

Sen. Brandon Creighton
Members of the House State Affairs Committee heard testimony on all four bills this week, each of which are sponsored by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe). One of the measures - SB 2486 was approved on a 10-2 vote, while the others were left pending in committee. 

Each bill bars political subdivisions of the state (including local governments like cities and counties) from adopting or enforcing ordinances, rules, or regulations that would regulate a private employer's terms of employment as they relate to various issues. Those issues were broken down into four major categories, and each bill addresses one of them. 

Senate Bill 2485 - Prohibits rules/regulations relating to "employment benefits, including health, disability, retirement, profit-sharing, death, and group accidental death and dismemberment benefits."

This bill passed Senate committee 7-0 and passed the full Senate 18-12.

Senate Bill 2486 - Prohibits rules/regulations relating to "scheduling practices or overtime compensation."

This bill passed Senate committee 7-0; passed the full Senate 20-11; and passed House committee 10-2. 

Senate Bill 2487Prohibits rules/regulations relating  to "any form of employment leave, including paid days off from work for holidays, sick leave, vacation, and personal necessity."

This bill passed Senate committee 7-0 and passed the full Senate 18-12. 

Senate Bill 2488Prohibits rules/regulations relating  to "a private employer 's ability to request, consider, or take employment action based on the criminal history record information of an applicant or employee."

This bill passed Senate committee 7-0 and passed the full Senate 19-12. 
May 2019
MON 27th - Last Day of 86th Legislature
June 2019
WED 5th - SAT 8th - Convention @ Jackson Hole, WY
August 2019
THU 22nd - OCA awards @ Georgetown, TX
FRI 23rd - Board meeting
November 2019
FRI 15th - Board meeting