87th Legislative Session Priority Bills
In Texas, condemnation is an unfair process for landowners. Reform is needed to improve the transparency, fairness, and accountability for property owners.The following bills were supported by Texas Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform last session:
Eminent domain reform is supported by the platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties in Texas.
During this past 87th Legislative Session, more than two dozen bills were filed to improve the eminent domain process. Below are the priority bills Texas Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform supported:
HB 2730 Deshotel Passed
HB 2730 requires the Landowner Bill of Rights to now include: a) notice that the landowner has the right to file a written complaint to the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) regarding misconduct by a registered right-of-way agent acting on behalf of an entity exercising eminent domain; b) new, required terms for easement conveyance documents regarding a pipeline (Addendum A) or transmission line project (Addendum B); and c) an addendum of optional terms for those easement conveyance documents that are negotiable by a landowner (Addendum C). The Landowner Bills of Rights is to be reviewed every two years allowing for public input.
The bill further allows the landowner and entity to amend, alter, or omit the contract terms set out as outlined in Addendum A, B, and C above.
HB 2730 also requires that an initial offer must be in writing and include: a) the Landowner Bill of Rights, including the appropriate addenda outlined above; b) a statement clearly indicating whether compensation includes damage to the remainder or a certified appraisal that includes damage to the remainder; c) the conveyance document, except where exclusions apply; and d) the name and phone number of the entity’s representative.
The bill further requires petitions in an eminent domain lawsuit to be sent by first class mail, in addition to certified mail with a return receipt requested.
Finally, HB 2730 sets deadlines for both the appointment of Special Commissioners and their alternates in a condemnation suit.
The bill also provides the following for right-of-way agents: a) continuing education; b) a probationary certificate issued upon course completion; and c) the possible revocation or suspension of a right-of-way agent’s certificate under certain conditions.
HB 37 Zwiener Not Passed
HB 37 would transfer the approval of a permit for certain intrastate oil and gas pipelines to the Public Utilities Commission from the Texas Railroad Commission. The routing of the permit must meet certain conditions and jurisdictional requirements or be denied.
HB 1506 Zwiener/SB 1842 Eckhardt Not Passed
Both bills are similar in language stating that if there is an objection to the award after a Special Commissioner’s hearing, then a private entity cannot take possession of the property until after 180 days of the commissioner’s award if there is pending litigation.
HB 4107 Burrows Passed
This bill provides that a common carrier pipeline shall make a good faith effort to negotiate the siting of a pipeline or incidental facility on a property owner’s land. This bill also provides for the negotiation of a survey and the repair or remediation of any damages should they occur during this process.
SB 721 Schwertner/HB 2041 Leman Passed
SB 721/HB 2041 state that a condemning entity shall disclose to the property owner any and all existing appraisal reports produced or acquired relating specifically to the owner’s property at least 3 days before a special commissioners’ hearing, if an appraisal report is to be used at the hearing.
SB 724 Schwertner Not Passed
With SB 724, if damages awarded through the special commissioners’ hearing or through an appeal to the courts is 20 percent or more than the condemnor’s final offer, the condemnor shall pay all related attorney and professional fees incurred by the property owner in connection with the eminent domain proceeding.
SB 725 Schwertner/HB 2043 Leman Passed
SB 726 and HB 2043 would require that if additional property taxes are imposed due to the diversion of property for nonagricultural use, then the property taxes are the responsibility of the condemning entity, not the property owner.
SB 726 Schwertner/HB 2044 Leman Passed
These bills would strengthen the current statute to allow a landowner the right to repurchase property if the condemning entity does not meet a sufficient number of conditions to prove “actual progress” is being made toward the stated public use of a taking within a ten-year period.
To learn more about bills offered during the 87th Texas Legislative Session, please visit capitol.texas.gov or write us at info@TxLEDreform.org for more information.
|2023 Legislative Calendar|
January 10, 2023
88th Legislative Session Convenes
May 29, 2023
Last Day of Session