HBA-CBW H.B. 2270 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2270 By: Bailey Judicial Affairs 4/4/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In August 1999, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Freeman v. City of Dallas affirmed a federal trial courts 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. Such litigation has delayed the process of demolishing dangerous buildings and created a backlog of 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 with a population of 1.6 million or more to provide that the municipal court of record has civil jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing dangerous structure and junked vehicle 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 with a population of 1.6 million or more 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 requires the court to have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court within the boundaries of the jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing health and safety and nuisance abatement ordinances. The bill also requires the court to have authority to issue search warrants for the purpose of investigating a 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.