HBA-KMH H.B. 1891 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1891 By: Giddings Urban Affairs 4/5/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, municipalities face some difficulty in ensuring clean and healthy neighborhoods. H.B. 1891 establishes a civil adjudication process for the handling of code enforcement violations. This bill also allows cities to better address problems such as high weeds, litter, unsafe buildings, junked motor vehicles, and other matters relating to the preservation of public and fire safety. H.B. 1891 provides for personal delivery of notices by municipalities regarding violations of ordinances and public nuisances, as well as decreasing the time period that violations may continue after notice has been given before further action by the municipality is authorized. This bill also provides for a shorter time period for a vehicle to remain inoperable before it legally becomes a "junked vehicle." Furthermore, this bill provides for hearing and appeal procedures for certain administrative adjudications. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 342.006, Health and Safety Code, to decrease to seven days, rather than 10, the period of time in which an owner of property must come into compliance under this chapter before provisions of the section authorize a municipality to act against the owner. Deletes and exception to the provision that notice under this section can be posted on a placard attached to a stake driven into the ground only if the property contains no buildings. Provides that the notice under this section is personally delivered or sent. Makes conforming and nonsubstantive changes. SECTION 2. Amends Subchapter A, Chapter 54, Local Government Code, by adding Section 54.0045, as follows: Sec. 54.0045. NOTICE FOR VIOLATIONS OF CERTAIN HEALTH AND SAFETY ORDINANCES. (a) Provides that a municipality must exercise due diligence to determine the identity and address of the owner, lienholder, or mortgagee, in enforcing an ordinance requiring notification of certain parties. (b) Sets forth the records to be searched by that satisfy a municipality's exercise of due diligence under this section. (c) Provides that the validity of a notice is not affected if mailed in accordance with this section and the notice is returned via U.S. Postal Service as "refused" or "unclaimed." Provides that such notice is considered as delivered. SECTION 3. Amends Sections 54.035(a) and (b), Local Government Code, to provide that the notice under this section is personally delivered or sent. Makes a conforming change. SECTION 4. Amends Section 54.039(a), Local Government Code, to provide that the notice under this section is personally delivered or sent. SECTION 5. Amends Subchapter C, Chapter 54, Local Government Code, by adding Section 54.044, as follows: Sec. 54.044. ALTERNATIVE HEARING PROCEDURES. Authorizes a municipality to adopt a procedure for an administrative adjudication hearing under which an administrative penalty is authorized to be imposed for the enforcement of an ordinance described by Section 54.032 (Ordinances Subject to Quasi-Judicial Enforcement), as an alternative to the enforcement process described by this subchapter (Quasi0Judical Enforcement of Health and Safety Ordinances). (b) Provides that the procedure under this section must entitle the person charged with violating an ordinance to a hearing. Sets forth provisions the procedure must include. (c) Authorizes a municipal court to enforce an order of a hearing officer compelling the attendance of a witness or the production of a document. (d) Sets forth provisions that must be included in a citation or summons issued as part of a procedure adopted under this section. (e) Requires the original or a copy of the summons or citation to be kept as a record in the ordinary course of business of the municipality and provides that the citation or summons is rebuttable proof of the facts it states. (f) Provides that the person who issued the citation or summons is not required to attend a hearing under this section. (g) Provides that a person charged with violating an ordinance who fails to appear at a hearing authorized under this section is considered to admit liability for the violation charged. (h) Requires the hearing officer at the hearing to issue an order stating whether the person charged with violating an ordinance is liable for the violation and the amount of a penalty, cost, or fee assessed against the person. (i) Authorizes an order issued under this section to be filed with the clerk or secretary of the municipality. Requires the clerk or secretary to keep the order in a separate index and file. Authorizes the order to be recorded using microfilm, microfiche, or data processing techniques. (j) Authorizes an order under this section to be enforced by filing a civil suit for the collection of a penalty assessed against the person and obtaining an injunction prescribing action to be taken or discontinued in accordance with the ordinance. (k) Authorizes the person to appeal the determination of a hearing officer by filing a petition in municipal court before the 31st day after the date the hearing officer's determination is filed. Provides that an appeal does not stay enforcement and collection of the judgment unless the person, before filing the appeal, posts a supersedeas bond. SECTION 6. Amends Section 214.001(d), (g), and (p), Local Government Code, as follows: (d) Provides that the notice under this section is personally delivered or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.. (g) Provides that the notice under this section is personally delivered or sent. (p) Authorizes a hearing under this section to additionally be held by an administrative hearing officer or a panel of not more than 12 members appointed by the governing body of the municipality. SECTION 7. Amends Section 214.0012(a), Local Government Code, to provide that the notice under this section is personally delivered or sent. SECTION 8. Amends Section 683.071, Transportation Code, to redefine "junked vehicle" for purposes of this chapter to include a vehicle that has remained inoperable for more than 21 days, rather than 45 days. SECTION 9. Amends Section 683.075, Transportation Code, to provide that the procedures for the abatement and removal of a public nuisance under this subchapter must provide not less that seven days' notice, rather than 10 days, of the nature of the nuisance. Provides that the notice under this section must be personally delivered or sent. Decreases to seven days, rather than 10, the period of time in which an owner of property must remove a nuisance under this chapter. Authorizes notice to the last known registered owner if the owner can not be located. Provides that an action to abate the cause, if notice is returned undeliverable, is continued to a date not earlier than the eighth day, rather than the eleventh day, after the date of return. SECTION 10. Makes application of this Act prospective. SECTION 11. Effective date: September 1, 1999. SECTION 12. Emergency clause.