From the 88th - Just the Beginning

The Texas Legislature gets underway tomorrow, January 10, at noon.  This will kick off the 140-day legislative session. 

The start will have a lot of the traditional ceremony, as well as electing the Speaker of the House, and approving the Session’s procedural rules.  The Comptroller’s state revenue and surplus estimates are soon to come with what is expected to be at least $27 billion in the state’s “rainy day” fund.

At the start, people are excited to be at the Capitol.  Akin to the start of every college football season, offices are filled with unbridled hope and optimism.  This is because no one has suffered any losses yet.  Everyone is still undefeated.

Undoubtedly, things will change and there will be those that win, those that lose, most who do a bit of both, and always many unexpected surprises.

So, this first post is mostly an introduction and promise of much more to come.

However, the months since the election and leading up to the opening gavel have not been idle.  In fact, far from it.  We have seen a prolific amount of pre-filed bills and many discussions on expected legislative topics to come. 

As of today, more than 1,500 bills have already been filed.  And we fully expect this session to return to typical form, compared to last session in 2021 when COVID protocols threw so much into doubt, and slowed the normal pace.  This will not be the case in 2023. 

We will see, read, and analyze the 7,000 – 8,000 bills that will eventually be filed.  At 1,500+, maybe we are already through 20 percent.  Or maybe we are looking at some record-breaking filings with pent-up demand from the atypical 2021 session.  Time will tell over the next two busy months.

To give everyone a taste of much more to come, I’ve highlighted a few we are already tracking, and some we are working on.

Resurfacing from last session one of the bills we are again concerned about is HB 152, which would allow some counties the ability to adopt and enforce the “wildland-urban interface code.”  While a good goal to mitigate against wildfires, the serious concerns are the breadth of land use powers this would give counties.  Expanded county land use authority is always an area of great focus for TMHA.  And we continue to hear from both inside the Capitol and outside that this issue will certainly be debated this session.  

Another resurfacing of a bill that didn’t pass last session that I know our insurance members are concerned about is HB 287, which addresses replacement cost and timing of insurance payments for homeowner’s, renter’s, or condominium owner’s insurance policies.

There is a bill, HB 234, filed that would require sales prices disclosure of commercial and industrial property sales that would carry a civil penalty of 5 percent of the sales price of the property for non-compliance.

For our lenders, HB 219, would require a lender to release their lien following no more than 60-days after a borrower paid off their mortgage.

We are already tracking dozens of landlord-tenant bills that could impact the eviction processes, a seven day “right to cure” requirement for non-payment, sealing of some prior tenant eviction records that wouldn’t surface in subsequent tenant screenings, pet policies, and one that would allow a tenant the absolute right to terminate a lease if there is a utility outage due to severe weather that is not restored within 48-hours.

Legislative defense is always a top priority for TMHA’s lobby efforts, but this session, TMHA leadership has given us some ambitious offensive marching orders as well.  More on this in the weeks to come.

But it is once again time to lace up the loafers and hit the ground running because…we are back in Session.