The Government Affairs Group in the Austin office of Gardere Wynne Sewell completed a successful 82nd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, assisting clients in the passage of numerous pieces of key legislation.
The Gardere team took the lead or actively participated in the passage of important pieces of legislation during the 140-day regular session that concluded May 30, 2011, including:
- A clarification of what constitutes a retailer's being "engaged in business" in Texas in regards to Texas' sales tax laws to ensure that taxes owed on purchases made over the Internet are paid to the state. (This bill was vetoed during the regular session, but is being considered as part of the special session called on May 30 by Gov. Rick Perry.);
- A television recycling program that balanced the need for environmental protections with a free market component for television manufacturers;
- A comprehensive update of state laws governing Public Improvement Districts and Municipal Management Districts, which are vital tools of economic development in the state's urban areas;
- The creation of two new special water districts in Hunt and Grayson counties, and an improvement of the law governing strategic partnership agreements between special districts and municipalities;
- Clarification of the law governing the payment of surplus lines insurance premium taxes;
- The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Model Holding Company Act with confidentiality provisions to protect information of privately held non-insurer affiliates;
- The first comprehensive overhaul since 1999 of the state's statutes regarding life settlement transactions, which are the sale of an existing insurance policy to a third party;
- A modification to the regulation of debt cancellation agreements for motor vehicles that will allow this industry to operate in Texas;
- Key reforms to the state laws governing the management and operation of homeowner's associations including voting, assessment payment and collection, and record-keeping requirements;
- Modifications to the statutes that regulate the sale of vehicle service contracts and identity theft service contracts. The new provisions extend regulatory authority to the sellers of the contracts and create restitution provisions for consumers;
- Important revisions to the state's business laws including the Business Organizations, Business and Commerce, and Uniform Commercial Codes;
- A concurrent resolution urging the U.S. Congress to provide a comprehensive public alert warning system.
The Gardere team also was involved in numerous other pieces of legislation regarding insurance regulation, public accountancy, public finance, heavy equipment, generic drugs, public transportation and environmental regulation. The deadline for legislation to be signed or vetoed by Gov. Perry is June 19, 2011.
"Working in the Texas Legislature requires a diverse set of skills that our team brings to the table for every client we represent," says Gardere's Kimberly Yelkin. "We're proud of what we've accomplished for clients this session, and thankful for the trust they put in our work."
Gardere's Government Affairs Practice Group is one of the most experienced and influential legal teams in the state. The lawyer-lobbyists represent a broad spectrum of clients before the Texas Legislature and state agencies in addition to providing legislative and regulatory services to private corporations and public entities facing issues related to litigation, legislation and regulation.
In addition to Ms. Yelkin, Gardere's Austin-based team includes legislative veterans Val Perkins and Mark Vane. Earlier this year, Gardere was named by Capitol Inside as one of the most powerful law firm lobby teams in Texas in the annual Texas Lobby Power Rankings. The respected legal newspaper Texas Lawyer also ranked Gardere's Government Affairs Group among the top in Texas in 2009, and the international legal publication Chambers USA ranked Ms. Yelkin among the best attorneys in the country in 2010.