Bill Text: TX HB489 | 2013-2014 | 83rd Legislature | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Relating to rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities, including with respect to the use of service animals that provide assistance to those persons; providing penalties.

Status: (Passed) 2013-06-14 - Effective on 1/1/14 [HB489 Detail]

Download: Texas-2013-HB489-Introduced.html
  83R2354 KKR-F
 
  By: Menendez H.B. No. 489
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the use of assistance animals that provide assistance
  to persons with disabilities; providing criminal penalties.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Sections 121.002(4) and (5), Human Resources
  Code, are amended to read as follows:
               (4)  "Person with a disability" means a person who has a
  mental or physical disability, including an intellectual
  disability [mental retardation], a hearing impairment, deafness, a
  speech impairment, a visual impairment, post-traumatic stress
  disorder, or any health impairment that requires special ambulatory
  devices or services.
               (5)  "Public facility [facilities]" includes a street,
  highway, sidewalk, walkway, common carrier, airplane, motor
  vehicle, railroad train, motor bus, streetcar, boat, or any other
  public conveyance or mode of transportation; a hotel, motel, or
  other place of lodging; a public building maintained by any unit or
  subdivision of government; a retail business, commercial
  establishment, or office building to which the general public is
  invited; a college dormitory or other educational facility; a
  restaurant or other place where food is offered for sale to the
  public; and any other place of public accommodation, amusement,
  convenience, or resort to which the general public or any
  classification of persons from the general public is regularly,
  normally, or customarily invited.
         SECTION 2.  Section 121.003, Human Resources Code, is
  amended by adding Subsection (k) to read as follows:
         (k)  A person is not entitled to make demands or inquiries
  relating to the qualifications or certifications of an assistance
  animal for purposes of admittance to a public facility except to
  determine the basic type of assistance provided by the assistance
  animal to a person with a disability.
         SECTION 3.  Section 121.004, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 121.004.  PENALTIES FOR AND DAMAGES RESULTING FROM
  DISCRIMINATION.  (a) A person, including a firm, association,
  corporation, or other public or private organization, or the agent
  of the [a] person, [firm, association, corporation, or other
  organization] who violates a provision of Section 121.003 commits
  an offense. An offense under this subsection is a Class B
  misdemeanor [punishable by a fine of not less than $300 or more than
  $1,000].
         (b)  In addition to the penalty provided in Subsection (a)
  [of this section], a person, including a firm, association,
  corporation, or other public or private organization, or the agent
  of the [a] person, [firm, association, corporation, or other
  organization,] who violates the provisions of Section 121.003 [of
  this chapter] is deemed to have deprived a person with a disability
  of his or her civil liberties. The person with a disability
  deprived of his or her civil liberties may maintain a cause of
  action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction, and there
  is a conclusive presumption of damages in the amount of at least
  $2,000 [$100] to the person with a disability.
         SECTION 4.  Section 121.005, Human Resources Code, is
  amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:
         (c)  In response to a reasonable request by a person in a
  public facility relating to the type of assistance provided by an
  assistance animal for purposes of admitting the assistance animal
  to the facility, the person with a disability using the assistance
  animal shall provide a brief explanation of the basic type of
  assistance provided by the assistance animal.
         SECTION 5.  Section 121.006(a), Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  A person who uses an assistance animal with a harness or
  leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use
  trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a
  specially trained assistance animal when training of the type
  described in Section 121.002(1)(B) [of this chapter] has not in
  fact been provided, is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor [and on
  conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200].
         SECTION 6.  Section 121.008, Human Resources Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 121.008.  DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO
  PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.  (a) To ensure maximum public awareness
  of the policies set forth in this chapter, the governor shall [may]
  issue a proclamation each year taking suitable public notice of
  October 15 as White Cane Safety and Assistance Animal Recognition
  Day. The proclamation must contain appropriate comment about the
  significance of various devices and animals used by persons with
  disabilities to assist them in traveling, and must call to the
  attention of the public the provisions of this chapter and of other
  laws relating to the safety and well-being of this state's citizens
  with disabilities.
         (b)  The comptroller, the secretary of state, and other state
  [State] agencies that regularly mail [mailing] forms or information
  to significant numbers of public facilities and businesses 
  operating within the state shall cooperate with state agencies
  responsible for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities by
  sending information about this chapter to those to whom regular
  mailings are sent. The information, which must be sent at [only on]
  the request of state agencies responsible for the rehabilitation of
  persons with disabilities and at least [not more than] once each
  year, may be included in regular mailings or sent separately. If
  sent separately, the cost of mailing is borne by the state
  rehabilitation agency or agencies requesting the mailing and,
  regardless of whether sent separately or as part of a regular
  mailing, the cost of preparing information about this chapter is
  borne by the state rehabilitation agency or agencies requesting
  distribution of this information.
         SECTION 7.  The change in law made by this Act applies only
  to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act.
  An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is
  governed by the law in effect when the offense was committed, and
  the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For
  purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the
  effective date of this Act if any element of the offense occurred
  before that date.
         SECTION 8.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2013.
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