P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 1997
AUSTIN - Late Tuesday the Texas House gave initial approval to a bill by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, which tightens voting requirements for the creation of county development districts. Shortly before a midnight deadline, House members passed Senate Bill 1425 to "third reading", the final passage vote. Representative Jim Horn, R-Denton, sponsored the bill in the House.
County development districts (CDDs) are taxing entities which can be created by county commissioners courts at the request of a landowner for the benefit of particular economic development projects. A CDD must be approved in an election. However, since they are generally created in undeveloped areas, the elections typically involve a very small number of participants.
"These elections can occur by having just one person move onto the land in a trailer. That one resident lives there for 30 days, stages the election, votes in the election, counts the votes in the election, and canvasses and reports the outcome of the election. There may not necessarily be anything improper in this practice, but it raises questions in the minds of some people," Nelson explained.
Senate Bill 1425 requires that if ten or fewer votes are cast in the election to create a CDD, that a record of the election proceedings must be submitted to the state Attorney General within 90 days. The record must include voter affidavits attesting to residency and qualification to vote. The Attorney General's Public Finance Division already conducts legal reviews of elections creating special districts with bonding authority. The bill also allows the county to require the landowner who requested creation of the district to pay for the cost of the election.
The development districts were allowed by legislation passed in the 1995 legislative session. Denton County, where Senator Nelson resides, was the first to create such a district. "I have heard lots of concerns about how these things operate. This bill is a step toward addressing those concerns by tightening the election process," she said. Nelson noted that Denton County officials had expressed their support for provisions in Senate Bill 1425.
Following final approval by the House, the bill will go to the Governor for his signature.