• Legislative

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    TFFA TOP PRIORITY

    • HB 2174 – Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) and Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)

    On Thursday, June 15th, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2174 into law making it effective September 1, 2017. House Bill 2174 was filed by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) in the Texas House of Representatives and carried by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) in the Texas Senate. HB 2174 has been TFFA’s priority bill this legislative session. 

    The bill privatizes fuel meter calibrations and fuel quality testing currently performed by the Texas Department of Agriculture. TFFA believes that privatizing these calibrations and tests will ultimately reduce costs for our members and reduce the amount of time pumps are offline for inspections. While meter fees were not reduced as part of this legislation, TFFA will continue to press for reductions in fees.

    TFFA would like to thank Rep. Darby, Sen. Nichols and their staffs for their work on HB 2174.

    What does HB 2174 do?

    Fuel Meter Calibrations:

    1.The bill creates a new definition for ‘motor fuel meters’ as those meters at retail locations used to sell gasoline and/or diesel with a maximum flow rate of 20 gallons per minute or less.

    2.The bill requires that motor fuel metering devices be inspected, tested, and calibrated once every two years by licensed service technicians operating under contract with the operator of the motor fuel metering device.

    3.The annual registration of fuel meters is now tied to calibration requirement. This means that without proof of the 2 year requirement being met, facilities will not receive a current registration.

    4.Tolerances allowed for fuel meters shall be those used by NIST. This means that all pumps are allowed for a tolerance of -0.5% to +0.5% from zero.

    5.TDA will no longer perform on-site, routine inspections. TDA will only process paperwork for registrations and from calibrations performed by licensed service companies.

    6. Complaints on fuel meters will be received by TDA who will then contact the operator of the motor fuel metering device. If an operator receives three complaints in an eighteen month period, then the operator must pay for recalibration of their fuel metering devices.

    Fuel Quality Testing:

    1.Fuel quality testing will no longer be performed by TDA and testing will only be performed following customer complaints. There will no longer be periodic or spot testing.

    2.Complaints on fuel meters will be received by TDA who will then contact the operator of the site.

    3.Licensed service companies will perform the fuel quality test. The test must have laboratory tests to verify that there is a problem before a pump can be shut down.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     

    TFFA PRIORITIES

    • HB 1463 – Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo)

    The bill deals with so-called “drive-by” lawsuits in which plaintiff’s attorneys demand specified “settlement” amounts from businesses for alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The bill requires a claimant to give 60 days’ notice to a business of intent to file a claim under the state version of the ADA. The notice must disclose the name of the individual asserting the claim (no more demand letters from law firms on their own behalf), the nature of each alleged violation, and the time, place, and manner in which the claimant discovered the violation. A notice may not make a demand for damages, request settlement, or offer to settle a claim without a determination of whether the condition stated by the notice is excused by law or may be remedied.

    The claimant must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the respondent has not remedied an alleged violation, and a respondent can ask the court for an additional 60 days’ abatement of the action to complete corrections already initiated when suit is filed. Finally, the bill allows a respondent to move for dismissal without prejudice or summary judgment if the respondent has corrected violations.

    TFFA believes this bill will cut down on predatory drive-by ADA lawsuits.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 1908 – Rep. John Zerwas (R-Katy) and Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston)

    The bill sought to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products from eighteen to twenty-one. TFFA and other retail groups opposed the bill. The two primary concerns with the bill for our industry is the impact increasing the legal age to twenty-one will have on store clerks and the unintended consequences for our members on the borders of Texas.

    Convenience store clerks are the front line of the determination for selling tobacco products. Store clerks are expensive to train and are a unique set of workers. We believe that increasing the age for tobacco to twenty-one will make their job much more difficult and is simply another way for clerks and stores to get in trouble. Retailers that are within an hour of the Texas border anticipate that if House Bill 1908 is passed, people age eighteen to twenty who wish to buy tobacco products will simply drive the extra distance across the border to obtain what they want. This obviously results in lower sales of tobacco products for our stores as well as other complementary goods that may have been bought along with the tobacco products.

    TFFA opposed the bill because of the potential negative economic impact on our industry.

    TFFA Position:  AGAINST
    Status:  NOT PASSED
     
    • HB 1555 – Rep.  John Kuempel (R-Seguin) and Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo)

    The bill allows for businesses that sell alcohol for on premise consumption to be allowed to also sell lottery tickets if the business makes less than 30% of its revenue from the sale of alcohol.

    TFFA members will benefit through increased opportunity for stores to creatively sell alcohol while also maintaining the ability to sell lottery tickets.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 1294 – Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio)

    The bill requires TxDOT to coordinate highway closures during state and federal holidays in order to avoid unnecessary economic disturbance. The bill would require a contract for a proposed state highway improvement that requires the closing of a highway to include a provision identifying the days on which the highway may not be closed. The bill would require TxDOT to submit an annual report detailing all highway closures during specified time periods and the estimated economic impact of those closures.

    TFFA believes that the bill will result in fewer highway closures during holidays which will mean less economic downtime/loss for stores along major highways.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED as an amendment to SB 312
     
    • SB 1557 – Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple)

    The bill is a Comptroller’s bill that addresses the reporting of motor fuel being sold tax-free for export.  Additionally, it requires each seller to provide further information for “flash sales” occurring at the rack level between permitted suppliers. 

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 2029 – Rep. JM Lozano (R-Kingsville) and Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)

    The bill is the Texas Restaurant Association’s ‘BBQ Bill’ and it was in response to new Texas Department of Agriculture enforcement of weights and measures requirements for scales at restaurants. The bill exempts commercial weighing or measuring device used exclusively to weigh food sold for immediate consumption from inspection and registration requirements with the TDA.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • SB 1588 – Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) and Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton)

    The bill sought to abolish the annual inspection requirement for non-commercial vehicles in Texas.

    TFFA Position:  AGAINST
    Status:  NOT PASSED
     
    • HB 2341 – Rep. Mando Martinez (D-Weslaco)

    The bill sought to improve TxDOT’s curb cut application process and increase standardization of TxDOT’s Access Management across the state. TFFA worked with billboard companies, car dealers and other interested parties who also want more certainty and standardization across the system.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  NOT PASSED – Try Again Next Session
     

    OTHER BILLS TRACKED BY TFFA

    INSURANCE:

    • SB 417 – Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) and Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville)

    Insurance companies are currently required to provide written notice to a policyholder at least 30 days before a reduction in the policyholder’s auto or homeowners insurance coverage goes into effect. This information is often lost in renewal paperwork and as a result, agents and policyholders often do not know their coverage has been reduced until after the reduction goes into effect.

    The situation is made more confusing in that, under current law, reducing or restricting certain types of policies qualifies as a policy cancellation and triggers cancellation notice requirements. Thus, policyholders sometimes receive a notice of cancellation after they decide to renew their policy with a coverage reduction.

    S.B. 417 remedies these problems in two key ways. First, it requires the coverage reduction notice to be provided in a conspicuous place and in plain language. In keeping with current law, this notice must be provided at least 30 days before the change goes into effect. Second, the bill provides that if an insurer complies with these notice requirements, then a renewal with reduced coverage does not qualify as a policy cancellation. This should reduce the amount of paperwork and confusion generated from insurance renewals.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 1559 – Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock) and Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Richland Hills)

    The surplus lines insurance market has developed in Texas as an important resource to insure risks for many lines of insurance, but many commercial insureds do not have access to the surplus lines market. H.B. 1559 seeks to address this issue by allowing an entity that meets certain conditions to purchase commercial surplus lines insurance.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     

    GOOD GOVERNMENT/ENVIRONMENTAL:

    • HB 1290 – Rep. Kevin Robert (R-Houston) and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)

    The bill is a one-in, one-out policy for “rules” created by state agencies. Under the bill, if a state agency proposes a new rule/regulation on an industry, then the agency must show the removal of another rule/regulation that offsets the cost of the new rule/regulation for the affected industry.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 462 – Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park)

    The bill requires state agencies to provide notice of a proposed rule to the author(s) of the legislation that enacted the statutory authority under which the proposed rule is to be adopted. When rulemaking authority is conferred on state agencies by legislation, there exists a risk that an agency may make rules that go beyond the intended scope of the delegated authority. To facilitate legislative oversight of agency rulemaking and ease monitoring of implementation of legislation, H.B. 462 requires a state agency's notice of proposed rulemaking to include the bill number for the legislation providing the relevant rule-making authority and requires the agency to provide that notice to each primary author, joint author, sponsor, and joint sponsor of that legislation.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED/VETOED
     
    • HB 2533 – Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) and Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls)

    Local governments are increasingly bringing environmental enforcement actions using contingency fee private counsel and that sometimes these actions are contrary to statewide enforcement policy or interpretation. The bill addresses this issue by requiring notice to be provided to the attorney general and the executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before the institution of certain civil suits.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     

    TRANSPORTATION:

    • HB 2065 – Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman)

    Certain municipalities and counties are authorized to apply for certification to conduct commercial vehicle inspections and issue citations. Monies collected from the fines associated with the citations can be retained by the city or county to recover their costs of enforcement in an amount not to exceed 110 percent of their actual expenses for enforcement. All fines that exceed this limit are reported to the comptroller and deposited to the credit of the Texas Department of Transportation.

    There has been speculation that cities and counties are not reporting the full amount to the state, so H.B. 2065 requires a municipality or county that retains a fine from commercial vehicle inspection enforcement to annually file a report with the Comptroller detailing fines retained and any expenses claimed for the enforcement during the previous year.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 3254 – Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman)

    The bill authorizes the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) to deny a motor carrier registration if the applicant is owned, operated, or managed by a person or business that has unpaid administrative penalties relating to motor carrier registration or vehicle size and weight or that owned, operated, or managed by a motor carrier that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has placed out of service for unacceptable safety compliance.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     

    RETAIL/QSR:

    • HB 2126 – Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson)

    A retailer or wholesaler engaged in the sale of telephone prepaid calling cards may be disqualified for the lower franchise tax rate for retailers and wholesalers based on an interpretation that the sale of such cards constitutes the provision of telecommunications services. H.B. 2126 addresses this issue by clarifying that the provision of telecommunications services does not include selling telephone prepaid calling cards for purposes of franchise tax liability.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • SB 1089 – Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)

    The bill requires that a local health jurisdiction accept the completion of a food handler training course that is accredited by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and listed with the registry to satisfy a local health jurisdictions training, testing, and permitting requirements. The bill would remove the ability for a local health jurisdiction to charge a fee for a certificate issued to a food service worker who provides proof of completion of an accredited course.

    TFFA Position:  FOR
    Status:  PASSED

    OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

    • HB 62 – Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland)

    The bill makes it a misdemeanor offense for a driver to use a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • SB 128 – Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston)

    The bill adds education regarding human trafficking to commercial driver’s license training courses.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 4054 – Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston)

    The Tax Code was unclear on which bakery items were exempt from sales and use tax, specifically with regard to a bakery item heated by a consumer. The bill seeks to provide clarification and help bakeries collect and remit the appropriate taxes. Items sold by a bakery or bakery items sold at a retail location, regardless of whether the items are heated by the consumer or seller or served with plates or other eating utensils, including bread, rolls, buns, biscuits, bagels, croissants, pastries, doughnuts, Danish, cakes, tortes, pies, tarts, muffins, bars, cookies, and tortillas.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • SB 1291 – Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-The Woodlands)

    Relating to permits for oversize and overweight vehicles in Chambers County, Texas.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 1355 – Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie)

    Relating to the enforcement of commercial motor vehicle safety standards in Ellis County, Texas

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • SB 2227 – Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)

    Relating to an increase in the fee for permits issued for the movement of oversize or overweight vehicles carrying cargo in Hidalgo County.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • HB 896 – Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin)

    Relating to the repeal of the allowance authorized for the administration and enforcement of motor fuel taxes.

    TFFA Position:  Neutral
    Status:  NOT PASSED
     
    • HB 3003 – Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin)

    The bill authorizes a brewer to offer a prize to a consumer of legal drinking age if the offer is part of a promotional sweepstakes activity. The bill would also add provisions relating to certain authorized sweepstakes promotions.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED
     
    • SB 2006 – Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)

    The Texas Department of Transportation has the authority to regulate certain billboards erected near highways. Recent court cases have raised significant questions regarding the scope of this authority as it relates to content-based restrictions of speech. The bill clarifies the situation by revising the scope of regulation for certain outdoor signs.

    TFFA Position:  NEUTRAL
    Status:  PASSED

     

     

     

     

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