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H.B. No. 639

H.B. No. 639

AN ACT

relating to the eligibility of land used as an ecological
laboratory for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified
open-space land.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Section 23.51(1), Tax Code, is amended to read as
follows:
(1) “Qualified open-space land” means land that is
currently devoted principally to agricultural use to the degree of
intensity generally accepted in the area and that has been devoted
principally to agricultural use or to production of timber or
forest products for five of the preceding seven years or land that
is used principally as an ecological laboratory by a public or
private college or university and that has been used principally in
that manner by a college or university for five of the preceding
seven years. Qualified open-space land includes all appurtenances
to the land. For the purposes of this subdivision, appurtenances to
the land means private roads, dams, reservoirs, water wells,
canals, ditches, terraces, and other reshapings of the soil,
fences, and riparian water rights. Notwithstanding the other
provisions of this subdivision, land that is currently devoted
principally to wildlife management as defined by Subdivision (7)(B)
or (C) to the degree of intensity generally accepted in the area
qualifies for appraisal as qualified open-space land under this
subchapter regardless of the manner in which the land was used in
any preceding year.
SECTION 2. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this
section, the change in law made by this Act applies beginning with
the tax year that begins January 1, 2021.
(b) This subsection applies only to land that first
qualified for appraisal under Subchapter D, Chapter 23, Tax Code,
on the basis of its use as an ecological laboratory in the 2014,
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020 tax year. The change in law
made by this Act applies to land to which this subsection applies
beginning with the tax year that begins January 1, 2027. For the
2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026 tax years, the qualification
of land to which this subsection applies for appraisal under
Subchapter D, Chapter 23, Tax Code, on the basis of its use as an
ecological laboratory is governed by the law as it existed
immediately before the effective date of this Act, and the former
law is continued in effect for that purpose.
SECTION 3. This Act takes effect January 1, 2021.

______________________________ ______________________________
President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 639 was passed by the House on May 3,
2019, by the following vote: Yeas 117, Nays 21, 1 present, not
voting.

______________________________
Chief Clerk of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 639 was passed by the Senate on May
17, 2019, by the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays 0.

______________________________
Secretary of the Senate
APPROVED: _____________________
Date

_____________________
Governor

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