The 23 bills all passed during the 87th Legislative Regular Session, which ended in May.
New Year's Day 2022 welcomes a slew of new laws taking
effect in the Lone Star State, including a tax break for places of religious
worship and new protections for homeowners living in flood-prone properties.
The 87th Texas Legislature approved the 23 measures during its regular session
this year, which ended in May.
Here's a look at some of the most notable bills becoming law
in the new year:
Taxation rules and exemptions
Among the measures taking effect Saturday is House Bill
1197, which increases the maximum period that certain land owned by a religious
organization for the purpose of expanding a place of religious worship or
constructing a new place of religious worship may be exempted from property
taxation from from six years to 10 years. Authors of the bill, which was signed
by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, said it was meant to benefit smaller
congregations, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Another measure related to taxation is Senate Bill 794,
which exempts homestead taxes for veterans who are considered “totally
disabled” by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. HB 115 exempts taxes of
certain property owned by charitable organizations and used in providing
housing and related services to people experiencing homelessness. To qualify,
the organization has to have existed for at least 20 years if it’s located in a
county and two years if in a municipality.
Flood-prone property disclosures
Also included in the list of bills is HB 531, which will
require landlords to inform prospective rental property owners if a property is
located in the 100-year floodplain or if the home has flooded in the last five
years before signing a lease. The notices would be disclosed on the lease,
according to the bill's text.
Under previous Texas law, landlords were not required to
tell tenants if a place flooded in the past. Issues surrounding residents
uninformed about their homes being prone to flooding came to head following
Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Under the new
law, if landlords fail to notify them, tenants can terminate their lease if
their property becomes flooded or damaged as a result of flooding. The new law
only applies to leasing agreements signed on and after Jan. 1, 2022.
Long-term care facility websites
Another law, HB 3961, will require websites of long-term
care facilities, including nursing homes, to post information regarding the
office of the state long-term care ombudsman, which advocates for resident
rights and "help protect the quality of life and quality of care of
anybody who lives in a nursing home or an assisted living facility,"
according to Texas Health and Human Services. The measure addresses concerns
that sprung up during the pandemic when facility closures isolated residents
from loved ones, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Law enforcement funding requirements
Also taking effect is Senate Bill 23, which requires
counties with more than 1 million residents to hold an election before reducing
funding of a law enforcement agency or reallocating funding or resources from
one law enforcement agency to another. The bill was authored in response to
calls to “defund the police” last year. Supporters of the bill say it ensures
voters have input in public safety decisions while opponents argue it takes
away local government control.