HBA-BSM H.B. 2270 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2270 By: Bailey Judicial Affairs 7/25/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In August 1999, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Freeman v. City of Dallas affirmed a federal trial court's decision that a judicial seizure warrant based on probable cause is required by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution before an order of demolition issued by the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board of the City of Dallas may be executed. The plaintiff was awarded damages because of the unlawful seizure. Based on this ruling, Houston curtailed its demolition of dangerous structures and removal of junked vehicles without a seizure warrant. Litigation has delayed the process of demolishing dangerous buildings that constitute a public safety hazard. In February 2001, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals revisited the case and reversed its decision and held in favor of the City of Dallas. The City of Houston may be subject to damage claims if the case is appealed to the United States Supreme Court and reversed in favor of the plaintiff. House Bill 2270 authorizes the governing body of a municipality by ordinance to provide that the municipal court of record has civil jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing dangerous structure and junked vehicle ordinances and has concurrent jurisdiction with a district court or a county court at law for the purpose of enforcing health and safety or nuisance abatement ordinances. 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. ANALYSIS House Bill 2270 amends the Government Code to authorize the governing body of a municipality by ordinance to provide that the municipal court of record (court) has civil jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing dangerous structure and junked vehicle ordinances. The bill provides that the court has concurrent jurisdiction with a district court or a county court at law under provisions regarding municipal health and safety ordinances within the municipality's territorial limits and property owned by the municipality located in the municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing health and safety and nuisance abatement ordinances. The bill authorizes the court to issue search warrants for the purpose of investigating a health and safety or nuisance abatement ordinance violation and seizure warrants for the purpose of securing, removing, or demolishing the offending property and removing the debris from the premises. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.