January 21, 2008

From the desk of Rep. Allen Vaught

The start of 2008 brought about new laws in Texas. Twenty two pieces of legislation were passed during the last session and went into effect on January 1, 2008. Here is a listing of the new laws that affect the Dallas area with a brief description of each:

• HB 316 clarifies that municipally owned airports would be exempt from paying property taxes. Previously, county owned municipal airports were not tax exempt, while city owned municipal airports were.
• HB 621 exempts certain warehouse inventory from taxation to ensure the Texas warehousing industry is competitive with neighboring states.
• HB 1751 institutes a $5 dollar tax on each customer of a venue providing nude entertainment. Up to $25 million of the collected tax per biennium will help fund the state's sexual assault program fund, and any excess taxes raised will go to the general revenue fund.
• HB 3191 provides a 100% property tax exemption to property owned by a non-profit organization for the purpose of constructing single-family dwellings for sale to low income individuals or families.
• SB 812 enables a non-profit corporation that engages primarily in providing chilled water and steam to eligible health institutions to receive a property tax exemption.
• SB 1405 requires the chief appraiser to prepare for each county, city, and school district in the appraisal district an estimate of the taxable value of the property in their respective taxing units. Currently, the chief appraiser is only required to give this information to school districts, however the information is useful for all entities.
• HB 3495 changes the language on notices for public meetings about tax increases in an attempt to make the notice more understandable.

• HB 538 allows a property owner to postpone their appraisal protest one time without showing cause. The law also extends the postponement time period from 15 days to 30 days.
• HB 1460 amends to the Occupations Code to provide greater consumer protections for owners of manufactured homes.
• HB 271 requires the seller of a home to disclose any known previous use of the house for the manufacture of methamphetamines.
• HB 2207 protects home buyers by requiring sellers to disclose liens and risks to the buyer before purchasing real estate that does not have a title insurance policy or all recorded liens paid within 30 days of the sale.
• HB 3101 provides landlord-tenant reforms to ensure fair business dealings while prohibiting illegitimate and illegal practices that take advantage of vulnerable tenants.
• HB 3496 requires the delivery notice of the appraised value of a single-family residence by April 1st of each year or as soon as practicable thereafter to allow homeowners more time to protest appraisal values.

Vehicles and Transportation
• HB 310 amends the Transportation Code by transferring the registration and license plate of a vehicle with the person selling the car.
• HB 481 amends the Transportation Code to allow the seller of a vehicle to register the sale with TxDOT through the website of the agency instead of filing the transfer notice. The law also creates a fine not to exceed $200 if the person is the seller of a used car and does not provide the purchaser with a license, receipt, and evidence of title upon delivery of the vehicle. The law also increases the fine for the buyer of a used car who does not register the title within the 20-business-day period.

I hope this provides everyone with a basic understanding of the new laws that have recently gone into effect. Further information can be found about each of the new laws at www.legis.state.tx.us or by contacting my office at 214-370-8305.