HB 3474

84(R) - 2015
House County Affairs
House County Affairs
County Affairs

Vote Recommendation

Vote Yes; Amend
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Neutral
  • Positive


Garnet F. Coleman

Bill Caption

Relating to powers, duties, and services of counties and entities serving counties, certain voting procedures for county and other local elections, and the study of county population growth; imposing a civil penalty.

Fiscal Notes


Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for Section 16 of HB3474, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($2,210,232) through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.

Section 56 of the bill would specify that in counties with a population at least 4 million (Harris County) the amount of the property tax exemption for certain organizations constructing or rehabilitating low-income housing is 100 percent of the appraised value, if certain conditions exist. The bill's requirement of an exemption of certain low-income housing in Harris County would require Harris County taxing units to grant a 100 percent low-income housing exemption at the full appraised value to these properties. As a result, taxable property values would be reduced and the related costs to the Foundation School Fund would be increased through the operation of the school finance formulas.

Local Government

Section 1 through 15  of the bill would expand the availability for participation in a veterans court program and would reduce the fee for participation from not to exceed $1,000 to not to exceed $500. There may be a revenue loss to local governments; however, the fiscal impact would vary depending on the number of participants in the program.

Section 17 through 48 could create costs for local governmental entities. The costs would depend on the number of cases and the severity of communicable diseases. The costs to local governmental entities could include: transporting or securing an individual to a facility, documentation of the communicable disease, and the detention of the individual.

Section 49 through 55 of the bill would include school district employees and resource officers to be eligible to access mental health first aid training. It is assumed that the cost of training would be covered by available grant funding. Some school districts could incur costs for substitute teachers to cover classrooms while teachers were obtaining training.

Section 56 of the bill would specify a requirement of an exemption of certain low-income housing in Harris County would require Harris County taxing units to grant a 100 percent low-income housing exemption at the full appraised value to these properties. The bill's provisions that reduce taxable property values of select properties in Harris County would reduce taxable property values and the related ad valorem tax revenue for local taxing units in Harris County.

Bill Analysis

HB 3474 seeks to make changes to code concerning issues affecting counties and other governmental entities. There are several different issues addressed in this bill.

The bill would allow individuals who have been arrested for a Class B or Class C misdemeanor and has completed a veterans treatment court program to have their records expunged after the court has dismissed the case and makes clarifying changes.

The bill would require that individuals who receive an educator certification receive training in mental health, substance abuse, and youth suicide provided through a program selected from the list of recommended best practice based programs.

The bill would reduce the maximum fee to participate in a veterans court program from $1000 to $500. 

The bill would expand eligibility for the veterans treatment court program by allowing defendants who had suffered sexual trauma during military service to participate and remove requirements that the veteran's condition had occurred from service in a combat zone or hazardous area. Participants can use video-conferencing software and internet-based communications to fulfill treatment obligations and would authorize cases for participants in veterans treatment courts to be transferred to a county where the defendant resides or works with the consent of both veterans treatment courts and the defendant.

HB 3475 would create a grant program for monitoring defendants and victims in family violence cases and provide grants to reimburse counties and program guidelines.

This bill would capabilities for detention of persons infected with, exposed to, or carriers of a communicable disease and would require that the Department of State Health Services establish a stockpile of protective equipment to support responses to infectious disease emergencies.

The bill would expand categories of school district employees who can receive mental health first aid training and grants.

HB 3475 would give a tax exemption of one hundred percent of the appraised value of the property to organizations constructing or rehabilitating low-income housing in Harris County. 

The bill would create the Task Force to Study Population Growth in Texas to assess the effects of population growth on counties relating to housing, businesses, land resources, the economy, health care services, and county jails.

Vote Recommendation Notes

This bill addresses a wide variety of issues, many of which we have supported as independent piece of legislation over the course of the legislative session. Of note we have elsewhere supported the veterans court provisions of this bill, the county reimbursement program for monitoring family violence defendants, and infectious disease response preparedness provisions. These provisions benefit personal responsibility and individual liberty. 

The provision of this legislation that we are concerned about is the specialty tax exemption for certain nonprofit organizations in Harris County. Tax exemptions that benefit specific groups of people, businesses or organizations distort the market and have the potential to create unintended consequences. We also oppose this exemption on the principle of a free market.

Ultimately the provisions of this bill that we support outweigh the provisions we oppose. We recommend passing the legislation after first adopting an amendment to remove the special tax exemption.

The second chamber sponsor is Senator Schwertner.