The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee met on October 19th to begin preparing the final report on all the Committee’s interim charges. It is expected the committee’s interim report will go to press by November 1st.


Committee Overviews and Recommendations


Overview of Charge 1:

Study current law governing homeowners associations with respect to ensuring that homeowners are given adequate protections against unfair foreclosures and are given proper channels for redress in case of foreclosure.


Discussion during the committee meeting focused on homeowners’ associations (HOA) reform and review of HB 1976.  



Overview of Charge 2:

Monitor the proliferation of municipal utility districts (MUDs) outside the corporate limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction of municipalities and whether increased oversight of these districts by other political subdivisions is needed. Review the process for the creation of municipal utility districts (MUDs) through the template developed during the 81st Legislative Session, including any changes needed to increase the efficiency and oversight over the creation of proposed districts. Review the process for creating special districts, including whether the creation of a template, similar to the one created for municipal utility districts (MUDs), is feasible and would enable the legislature to more effectively evaluate other proposed special districts during future Sessions.


It was noted that inactive MUDs are sufficiently safeguarded. It was recommended county commissioner consent be sought and justification provided for the creation of MUDs over 3,000 acres. The committee added language to the MUD template regarding eminent domain and the required two-thirds vote.  



Overview of Charge 3:

Review the process and costs for local governments to make government information available online. Consider ways to encourage local governments to provide more transparency, including the Comptroller’s experience with transparency and her offer to assist local governments, and consider penalties for entities that fail to comply with the online requirement.


It was noted the Comptroller’s Leadership Circle Program is gaining momentum and support across Texas.



Overview of Charge 4:

Assess ways to facilitate property ownership registration to better enable individuals to participate in federal programs and make recommendations to improve processing times to provide improved access to funds.


The workgroup recommendations address multi-owner inherited property issues which consisted of power of attorney and adverse possession proposals.



Overview of Charge 5:

Study the reasons for and the impacts of hospitals directly hiring physicians. Examine practices in other states. Make recommendations, if needed, to permit hospitals to directly hire physicians.


There are conflicting opinions on final recommendations. As a result, another meeting will be held at the end of October to hopefully gain resolution and complete final recommendations.



Overview of Charge 6:

Review state and local policies related to development and growth in rural and unincorporated regions of the state with regard to annexation and zoning authority. Focus on impacts to private property rights. Determine the appropriateness of existing extraterritorial jurisdiction authority. Make recommendations regarding possible changes to this authority.


It was recommended that counties need density management tools, road improvement fees and buffer zones between incompatible land use areas tools to better manage growth.



Overview of Charge 7:

Review the types of support state government can provide to assist local government consolidations with county governments. Evaluate budget implications for city and county government consolidations. Research the appropriateness and cost savings of eliminating duplicity between city and county governments in different regions of the state.


It was argued counties, cities and political subdivisions are deterred from fully engaging in functional consolidation due to a Texas Constitutional Provision that requires all interlocal contracts to be renewed annually. As a result, a constitutional amendment that allows for longer-term contracts has been recommended.   



Overview of Charge 8:

Review the statutory authority granted to municipal management districts (MMDs) and to emergency service districts (ESDs), the authority of municipalities and counties to create public improvement districts (PIDs). Determine whether the authority granted for each entity is adequate to accomplish the goals of local governments. Assess whether the consolidation of ESDs under one statute would improve uniformity and provision of fire and emergency services through these districts.


The workgroup standardized language from 11 bill provisions commonly used to grant powers and authorities to MMDs. They did not have opposition to merging Chapters 775 and 776 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The workgroup also revised the vetoed bill, SB 978 (81R), to address the Governor’s rejections.



Overview of Charge 9:

Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, 81st Legislature, Regular and Called Sessions, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation.

Monitor the use of the expanded funds provided by the 81st Legislature to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs


The Texas Department of House and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is confident all American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds will be used by their deadlines. TDHCA also noted they are experiencing great return on investment through the Housing Trust Fund.