Legislative Update: April 13, 2021

This is an update on historic preservation-related legislative activity during the 87th Texas Legislative Session. Legislation is being considered in Austin that impact historic district designation, county funding for preservation, tax credits, markers, monuments, local tax appraisals, Main Street, and related issues. The bill filing deadline was March 12, and bills are being assigned to House and Senate committees and public hearings are being scheduled. Your input is valuable to our democratic process. Keep informed at https://capitol.texas.gov/

HB 1474: Historic District Designations
This unnecessary bill, in response to unfounded claims that municipalities “venue-shop to achieve a supermajority” so as to landmark buildings against a property owner’s will and that cities “rushed to create historic districts” to avoid legislation passed in 2019 and “ensnare” unsuspecting property owners, was passed out of the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee and has been sent to the Calendars Committee.
A hearing on its companion bill, SB 1585, was held by the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee on April 8, but was left pending.

HB 1756 / SB 1542: County Appropriations for Restoration of Historic Buildings
We support these bills. HB 1756 was considered in the County Affairs Committee on April 1st and reported favorably out of the committee on April 6th.  It was sent to Local and Consent.  A hearing has not yet been scheduled by the Senate Local Government Committee for its companion bill, SB 1542.

HB 4326 / SB 813: State Historic Preservation Tax Credit
We support these bills. They would create a separate provision in state law that ensures that the state historic preservation tax credit can be applied to the insurance premium tax. Both HB 4326 and SB 813 have been reported favorably by their respective committees and sent to Local and Consent.

HB 3971: Local Property Tax Appraisals
We are monitoring this bill that would allow property tax appraisers to take into consideration the economic impact of historic district designations on real estate values. We would suggest that this bill also include individually-designated local landmarks in addition to districts. A hearing was held by the House Ways & Means Committee on April 12th and the bill was left pending.

We are also monitoring:
  • SB 1269: Expanding eligibility for participation in the state’s Main Street Program to include communities and “historic neighborhood commercial districts” in addition to central business districts. Public hearing scheduled in the Senate’s Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee on April 15th.
  • HB 1200/SB 416: These bills would create a pathway for local ordinances outside of Chapter 211 of the Local Government Code (traditional zoning) in cities such as Houston. HB 1200 was heard in committee on March 30th and left pending. No hearing has been scheduled for SB 416.
  • HB 1644, HB 3584, and SB 1501: These bills would establish guidelines for historic marker relocation and provide legal remedies if monuments and markers were to be moved without the approval of the Texas Historical Commission. No hearing has been scheduled for HB 1644. HB 3584 was heard in committee on April 12th and left pending. No hearing has been scheduled for SB 1501.
  • SB 1177: This bill would create a task force to evaluate state-owned historic artifact collections and make recommendations for a potential disaster-secure conservation and storage facility shared by multiple state agencies. We feel that private sector input would be beneficial and that representatives from the museum and artifact conservation professions should be included on the task force. As written, the task force would be limited to state agency employees from the Texas Historical Commission, General Land Office, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Parks and Wildlife Department, State Preservation Board, and Texas Facilities Commission. Public hearing scheduled in the Senate’s Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee on April 15th.

Thank you for your interest in state legislative activity because it directly impacts historic preservation activities at the local level.