C.S.H.B. 814
By: Coleman
Committee Report (Substituted)


Older cemeteries, especially those in urban areas, are often
neglected and in a state of disrepair. Although these cemeteries
may contain the remains of  prominent historical figures, for a
multitude of reasons the cemeteries have been forgotten and
neglected. Under current law only two avenues exist to remedy the
problem. First, the cemetery may be declared a nuisance and its
continued existence enjoined. The removal and relocation of the
remains becomes a matter for the municipality to handle. Second,
existing plot owners may organize a nonprofit corporation to manage
the cemetery. Unfortunately, in the case of older cemeteries, there
is often little hope of finding a sufficient number of current plot
owners to take on responsibility of restoring and operating the


The proposed legislation adds a new entity to the list of persons
who may take responsibility for restoring a neglected cemetery. The
legislation allows for a group with an established relationship to
the cemetery to form a nonprofit corporation and petition a local
county court. The court may designate the corporation to restore,
operate and preserve the cemetery after establishing: 1) its
relationship to the cemetery; 2) the age of the cemetery; 3) that
notice has been given to existing plot owners by publication; 4)
that no viable organization of plot owners exists; and 5) that the
cemetery is abandoned, or a nuisance under the law.

The corporation would be allowed to 1) subdivide new plots and sell
them to provide capital for the continued operation of the
cemetery; 2) levy reasonable charges on existing plot owners who
can be located; and 3) operate as any cemetery association with
respect to all other functions.


It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly
grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer,
department, agency or institution.


     SECTION 1. Amends Subtitle C, Title 8, Health and Safety Code
by adding a new Section 715 as follows:

Sec. 715.001 Sets out definitions for the bill.

Sec. 715.002 Allows the organizers of the non-profit corporation to
petition the court to take action to restore, operate, and maintain
a historic cemetery.

Sec. 715.003 Denotes the necessary parties to the action other than
the organizers of the nonprofit. They include property owners, plot
owners, and the Texas Historical Commission.

Sec. 715.004 Defines the content of the petition. This includes a
legal description of the cemetery property, proof that the
nonprofit has a religious, ethnic, historic, or cultural
relationship to the cemetery; proof that the cemetery is at least
75 years old; proof that no viable organization of plot owners
exists; and that the cemetery threatens or endangers the public
health, safety, comfort, or welfare.

Sec. 715.005 Requires a written plan of action. The plan must
include: a description of the action; the anticipated costs; the
time frame; assurances of proper conduct of business; protection of
the cemetery; the percentage of the total purchase price of each
plot sold and conveyed to be deposited in the trust fund
established in Sec. 715.011; and a description of records to be

Sec. 715.006 Defines the process of notifying the interested
parties, including record owners, plot owners, the Texas Historical
Commission, and the county auditor. The interested parties will be
notified by certified mail.

If the address or identity of a plot owner is not known and cannot
be found, a notice will be published at least 3 times in a
newspaper in the county where the cemetery is located or, in a 
county not having a newspaper, in the newspaper of an adjoining

Sec. 715.007 Requires that the court hold a hearing on the petition
and that each of the parties listed in Sec. 715.003 be given an
opportunity to be heard. Notice will be given by the nonprofit to
the parties listed in Sec. 715.003 not later than the 30th day
before the date of the hearing.

Sec. 715.008 If the court approves the petition, an order shall be
entered authorizing the nonprofit corporation to restore, operate,
and maintain the cemetery.

Sec. 715.009 States that plot owners and property owners are the
members of the nonprofit corporation.

Sec. 715.010 Requires the nonprofit to publish notice of the time
and location of the organizational meeting. During the
organizational meeting, a majority of the members present and
voting shall elect a board of directors for the nonprofit.

Sec. 715.011 Allows the nonprofit corporation to divide the
cemetery into lots and subdivisions. Provides for the right to sell
and convey the exclusive right of sepulture. States the
requirements of the trustee fund. States that the principal of the
trust fund may not be reduced. Provides for the replacement of the
trust fund trustee if required. Protects the trustee from civil or
criminal penalties due to acts made in good faith.

Sec. 715.012 Restricts the nonprofit corporation from the
construction or operation of a crematory on the cemetery grounds.

Sec. 715.013 Prevents the expansion of the cemetery unless the
expansion is operated under perpetual care laws; this insures that
the entire cemetery will be cared for on a continuing basis. The
nonprofit is also restricted from removing the cemetery dedication
under any circumstances.

Sec. 715.014 States that the historic cemetery must remain open to
the public. 

Sec. 715.015 This chapter does not apply to perpetual care or
family cemeteries.

     SECTION 2. Emergency clause.


CSHB814 places the proposed legislation in its own section of the
Health and Safety Code. HB814 amended Chapter 711 of the Health and
Safety Code.

Because CSHB814 creates a new chapter, definitions had to be added.

HB814 granted title of the land to the nonprofit corporation.
CSHB814 does not.

CSHB814 requires the proceeds from the sale of plots to be put into
a trust fund for the perpetual care of the cemetery should the
nonprofit disband. HB814 did not specify this.

CSHB814 is more specific about notification of plot owners before
any action is taken and guarantees plot owners membership in the
nonprofit corporation.


HB 814 was considered by the House Committee on State, Federal, and
International Relations in a public hearing on 5 April 1995.

The bill was left pending.

The bill was again considered by the committee in a public hearing
on 12 April 1995.

The committee considered a complete substitute for the bill. The
substitute was adopted without objection.

The bill was reported favorably as substituted with the
recommendation that it do pass and be printed and be sent to the
Committee on Local and Consent Calendars, by a record vote of 7
ayes, 0 nays, 0 pnv, and 2 absent.