Industry Overview: New Laws Affecting Texas Construction

At the American Subcontractors Association-Houston Chapter, we believe Texas construction benefits from being better informed. This is especially true regarding legislation which affects the construction industry. We’ve pulled together information on a range of new Texas laws which could impact the way you do business.

Right to Repair on Public Projects:
HB 1999 by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano)
Requires that, prior to litigation, a public entity must obtain a report detailing alleged construction defects and share the report with the contractors. Not later than the fifth day after the date a general contractor receives the report, they must provide a copy of the report to each subcontractor whose work is subject to the defect claim. All contractors will then have 30 days to inspect and 120 days to repair damages if they so choose.
Applies to any cause of action accrued on or after June 14, 2019

Construction Defect Litigation by School Districts:
HB 1734 by Representative Justin Holland (R-Rockwall)
Increases oversight of construction defect litigation by school districts and requires that proceeds from such litigation be used to repair the construction defects.
Changes to the Texas Education Code apply to any cause of action accrued on or after September 1, 2019

Design Defect Liability for Transportation Projects:
HB 2899 by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano)
Provides that a contractor who contracts with a governmental entity on a transportation project is not liable for defects, or the consequences of defects, in the adequacy, accuracy, sufficiency or suitability of plans, specifications or other design or bid documents provided to the contractor by the governmental entity, or for any errors, omissions or negligent acts of the governmental entity or a third party, in the rendition or conduct of duties arising out of or related to the project specifications.
Applies to any qualifying contract entered into after June 2, 2019

Project Labor Agreements: HB 985 by Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound)
Prohibits a governmental entity or an institution of higher education from prohibiting, requiring, discouraging or encouraging a contractor from entering into or adhering to an agreement with a collective bargaining organization for a state-funded project.
Effective September 1, 2019

Criminal Convictions/Occupational Licenses:
HB 1342 by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano)
Makes several changes regarding the impact of criminal convictions on occupational licenses such as: (1) Allows reinstatement of a license on the first anniversary of revocation if revocation was based on licensee’s failure to pay an administrative fine and the person has paid the fine; (2) Allows for the issuance of a “restricted license” as an alternative to denial/revocation/suspension for air conditioning and refrigeration contractors and electricians; (3) Clarifies the consideration that may be given to a license with a criminal conviction; (4) Removes from the list of grounds for suspension and revocation a criminal conviction for an offense that does not directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation and clarifies what kind of offense would be directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the license occupation; and (5) Provides due process to an applicant that may be denied a license on the grounds of a prior criminal conviction.
Effective September 1, 2019

Contractors Acting as Insurance Adjusters:
HB 2103 by Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
Expands the current prohibition on roofers acting as public insurance adjusters in certain circumstances to all contractors.
Effective September 1, 2019

Payroll Card Accounts:
HB 2240 by Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston)
Clarifies the law governing payment of wages by an employer through a payroll card account and allows an employee to opt out.
Effective September 1, 2019

Building Material Ordinances:
HB 2439 by Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont)
Prohibits a governmental entity from adopting a provision, ordinance or building code that limits the use or installation of a building product or material that is approved for use by a national model construction code.
Effective September 1, 2019

Student Loan Default.
SB 37 by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo)
Abolishes student loan default or breach of a student loan repayment or scholarship contract as a ground for non-renewal of a professional license.
Effective for all applications filed after June 7, 2019

License Eligibility Criteria:
SB 1531 by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)
Revises eligibility criteria for select occupational licenses, specifically with regard to an electrician’s license. The bill removes the current requirement that an applicant demonstrate their “honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.”
Effective September 1, 2019

Employee Juror:
SB 370 by Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
Expands the current prohibitions on employer actions against an employee serving as a juror to include discharging, threatening to discharge, intimidating or coercing an employee for the duration of their term of jury service in any court.
Effective September 1, 2019

Employee Grand Juror:
HB 504 by Representative Harold Dutton (D-Houston)
Expands current employment protections for employees serving as jurors to include employees serving as grand jurors.
Effective September 1, 2019