From the 86th – TMHA Support Modular Housing Bill Heard in House Committee & House Budget Week

First, this morning in the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee (LAP), TMHA supported HB 2546 was heard in committee.  TMHA’s lobby team worked late last week and yesterday to reach out to all the members of the LAP committee to convey our support for the bill that seeks to give residential modular builders energy code parity with site-built housing. 

To hear the bill presented in committee and my brief testimony, go to the timestamp of 1:08:34.  The hearing for the bill went quickly, which is always a good thing.  Best one can hope for with committee testimony is to do no harm. 

HB 2546 was left pending in committee.  We anticipate, as the language of the bill continues to go through revisions, it will remain pending for at least a week before coming up for a committee vote.

Also heard in committee this morning in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee was SB 1414 the Senate version of a bill related to permissible late fees for landlords.  This afternoon in the House Business and Industry Committee the House version of this bill, HB 1519, will also be heard.  The two identical bills are supported by the Texas Apartment Association as well as other trade groups, including TMHA.

The final language of the bills continues to evolve, but the goal is to remove the ambiguity in Chapter 92, Property Code, regarding what constitutes “reasonable” late fees.  Class action suits have been filed in recent years against apartment complexes disputing what amount of late fees are reasonable and therefore permissible versus those deemed by the court as unreasonable and not permissible.  The bills also would provide a safe harbor amount of late fee that the law would codify as reasonable. 

However, there were issues this morning in the Senate committee and the Senate version of the bill was pulled down.  We will see how the House version fairs later today.

On the Senate floor, SB 614, which is the Finance Commission sunset bill is on the Intent Calendar.  This means if the author is recognized on the floor by the Lt. Governor, then the bill will be heard on the floor. It is difficult to guess when a bill might be brought up on the Senate floor, but we are watching the Senate closely for when this bill does begin floor debate.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Sunset bill is set for committee hearing tomorrow.  Like the sunset bills for the Finance Commission and Plumbers, TMHA’s team continues to watch these large bills as well.

As for the big session news of the week, tomorrow the House will take up the budget.  For those marathon runners out there (or the non-runners like me, but who can imagine), tomorrow will be a long slog.  There were 307 prefilled amendments on the budget.  Those are just the prefilled amendments, which limits the amendments, but this does not limit the number of amendments-to-the-amendments.  And all the amendments and amendments to those amendments come from the starting point of the bill which hits the floor at 989 pages. 

We are taking bets, but the over-under for when the House will finish on the floor is 3 a.m. Thursday morning.

And if you are wondering why we are involved and will be watching the long process probably well into the early Thursday morning hours, well, it is the state budget, so everything is in there. 

As the saying goes, you want to show me how you govern, show me your budget.  Just as a quick example, the budget of the MH Division of TDHCA is on page 740, TDLR page 823, DMV page 751, and the GLO page 692.

We will have the coffee on tomorrow because it’s going to be a long day.