The beginning of session “blocking and tackling” is nearly done. All the members are sworn in, the inauguration speeches and parties are in the rearview, Comptroller review estimates are out, and Lt. Gov. Patrick released Senate committee assignments. The last piece will be a similar announcement on House committee assignments from Speaker Phelan.
Like many aspects of the start of a legislative Session, there isn’t that much of a rush at the start. This is in stark contrast to the end, which is non-stop, break-neck pace, sprinting nearly around the clock.
If this were a horse race, the end is an everything you got sprint, jokey smacking hindlegs, horse slobber flying from the bit in the mouth, desperately trying to finish in time. But at the beginning, well, we are just sort of walking to the starting gate at the moment.
Bills can’t be heard in committee until 60-days into the session, which is March 10th. But by March 10th the race will not only be on, we will be coming out of the first turn and very much picking up speed.
So what’s happening now?
Bill filing, more filing, and then filing some more.
We are nearly to 2,400 bills filed. As previously estimated, we are on our way to somewhere between 7,000 – 8,000 bills in total. That means between now and March 10th we could have another 5,000+ bills filed.
While we have little breathing room, I thought I’d call your attention to some of the bills that caught our eye that were not already covered in our first “From the 88th“ post. Some of the bills listed are highly concerning, some are great ideas, and some are ones that we just need to keep a very close eye on to make sure they aren’t changed or amended in a negative way.
Owner safety inspections for travel trailers – HB 198
Expedited city and county plotting review for land development – HB 866
Registration of financial and investment firms that lease residential property – HB 1056
Restriction on investment firms from being able to buy single-family homes for first 30-days of listing, contract voidable - HB 1057
Notices to vacate to a tenant by a landlord using electronic means – HB 1262
Standardized and state preemptive standards of all cities’-imposed standards for construction of RV Parks – HB 1286
Allowing some counties the option to impose a fee to collect and then dedicate the money raised to use towards homelessness prevention – HB 1482
Increasing the percent of impacted property owners needed to initiate a zoning protest from 20% to 50% - HB 1514
Criminal history screening of applicants for residential leases – SB 198
Limiting state agencies from adopting new rules that require a fee or tax – SB 506
Landlord’s duty to update contact information within 24-hours of a change, in “the tenant’s primary language,” or face a penalty – HB 1690
Water service and billing requirements for water utility providers to RV Parks – HB 1612
Creation of a new housing subsidy program for home loans targeted for “workforce” housing for those earning between 30% - 80% of AMFI – HB 1704
Defining all monies (any deposits, fees for damages, cleaning fees, etc.) paid by a tenant to a landlord are automatically presumed to be security deposits and must follow all provisions for accounting and reimbursement of security deposits – HB 1756
Prohibiting individuals, companies owned, a majority interest owned, or foreign entities from China, Iran, North Korea, Russia from purchasing or acquiring title to real property in Texas – SB 147
Again, still in the early stages of the session. And statistically, only about 25% of all bills filed pass (last session during COVID the passage rate was much lower at only 15%). The next stage, after filing, for any bills’ viability will be if it gets a committee hearing. Granted we treat and work every bill we flag to meet with the sponsor and interested stakeholders so that we clearly understand the issue(s) and intent. As well as voice any concerns, support, or opposition. But when bills are set for hearings, then we know we have a highly actionable bill, and efforts are kicked into another gear. From committee they go to the floor (or at least try if they make it out of the very powerful Calendar’s Committee) where the intensity is further racketed up, but that is for another post.
In addition to reading every filed bill and assigning those that pertain to our industry to the appropriate tracking and action item lists, your TMHA lobby team is busy working on our legislative initiatives.
We are working to generate support for these various endeavors, and when they are filed, we will update the membership on all of these efforts and details. More updates to come, but in the meantime look through the various bills links above, and see what committee assignments your state senator got assigned to. In particular, if your senator is on – Finance, Business and Commerce, or Local Government.