I’m not sure how long the license is to continue to describe the happenings of this past year and a half as crazy, unprecedented, and chaotic, but as this unusual Texas legislative session is now over, it’s clear that the political world was equally affected. This session certainly had its fair share of twists and unexpected turns along the way.
I mean you can’t exactly call a session that starts during a pandemic, gets hit by historic winter storm, ends with House Democrats walking out to prevent a quorum, and then Gov. Abbott line item vetoing all funding for the legislature out of the state budget as your typical run-of-the-mill session.
The main takeaways for our industry are: 1) we had a strong and successful defensive session, and 2) we secured an amendment on a bill that is now law and protects our industry from any local government closures or shutdowns during a disaster or pandemic.
As it was described to us at the start of session by the new Speaker of the House - "have managed expectations and expect few bills will pass." This certainly proved to be prophetic as the final tally of bills that made it to the governor’s desk was just 1,076. This was the lowest total of passed bills going all the way back to the early 90’s. The difference being back 30 years ago there were only about 4,500 bills filed compared to this session where we were just under 7,000.
The start of session moved at an inchworm like pace like never before. Novel COVID protocols, and purposefully limiting members and staff interactions meant that when the figurative starter pistol fired on January 12, not only did no one came firing out of the blocks; it was more like the gun went off, and everyone dove into a foxhole.
Then during the unprecedented and unusual glacial pace, come February it felt like we were hit by a glacier. The massive winter storm hit the state with power outages for a week when it wasn’t just the legislature that came to a complete halt, but the entire state. Following the storm, the resulting political fallout was that for the weeks that followed all of the political attention in Austin was on the winter storm, and our state’s energy infrastructure.
This confluence of factors effectively shrank the timelines to move legislation down to a suffocatingly tight bottleneck. And the predictable result was that very little legislation passed this session.
Despite the difficulty passing anything, TMHA was able to successfully work to amend a bill that added definitive protections for our entire industry against local government closures due to a pandemic or disaster.
There were also plenty of bills that threatened our ability to place homes in counties, and a run of negative landlord/tenant bills that through constant effort we were able to beat back. On this point, TMHA was also quite successful, and you can read the details on our defensive efforts in our 87th Session Recap – Successful Defense.
We have broken down by the following topics the bills that passed and the impact they can have on our industry:
Despite all the challenges and threats, TMHA’s success this session ensures our industry remains operational, protects us well into the future, and signals to those considering what markets and states they should invest their capital and efforts into for manufactured housing that Texas is open for business.
All of this said, and in keeping with the unusual nature of this past year, TMHA’s team doesn’t have long to catch our breath as the first of what is anticipated to be several special sessions starts July 8.