Legislative Liaison: Post-session recap
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Written By: TAR

In this edition

This edition of Legislative Liaison highlights Texas REALTORS®’ legislative successes, why the 85th Texas Legislature may not be done yet, and what Texas REALTORS® were doing in D.C. earlier this month.


Big wins for Texas real estate consumers

Texas REALTORS® had several legislative victories this session as the strongest advocates for Texas real estate consumers.

Now several TAR priority bills are heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk to enhance disclosure, save real estate buyers from excessive fees, protect private-property rights, increase transportation options, and more.

There’s a rundown of TAR’s legislative successes below … but first, find out why lawmakers may not be done talking about Texas real estate at the state Capitol.


Could there be a special session on property taxes?

Texas REALTORS® strongly advocated for the pro-consumer property tax reforms in Senate Bill 669 that would have given taxpayers more information about how their tax rates are set and how they can engage in the rate-setting process.

Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature ultimately failed to pass the comprehensive property tax reforms in SB 669.

Gov. Abbott said Monday morning that he’d make his decision “later this week” about whether to call a special session, according to the Austin American-Statesman. (Only the governor can call a special session, and he will set the agenda.)

The possibility of a special session is more and more likely, at least to address an important bill that regulates state agencies—known as a sunset bill—that didn’t make its way out of the Legislature.

It’s also highly likely that property tax reform will be on the agenda, as this was one of Gov. Abbott’s priority issues. Read more in the Dallas Morning News.

While we are disappointed that lawmakers didn’t ultimately resolve this important issue, Texas REALTORS® did have several victories as the strongest advocates for Texas real estate consumers.


Legislative successes for Texas real estate

Here’s a rundown of the TAR-supported bills that received the House and Senate’s support throughout the legislative process and are moving on to become law (as of 9:30 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 30):


 Home equity will be on the Nov. ballot

Senate Joint Resolution 60, authored by Sen. Kelly Hancock and sponsored by Rep. Tan Parker, will make a few select updates to the home-equity provisions in the Texas Constitution will be on the Nov. 7, 2017 ballot as a constitutional amendment.

The updates include lowering the fee cap to 2% and removing three of the top fee generators from the fee cap (appraisal fee, survey, and state base premium for title insurance policy/title examination report).

If voters approve the amendment, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2018 and will apply to new home-equity loans made on or after the effective date and existing home-equity loans refinanced on or after the effective date.


Enhanced disclosure for real estate consumers

Senate Bill 2212, authored by Sen. Kelly Hancock and sponsored by Rep. Tan Parker, is awaiting the governor’s signature to become effective Sept. 1, 2017.

The legislation would protect real estate consumers from misleading real estate advertisements and require disclosure from real estate wholesalers.

TAR worked with the Texas Real Estate Commission on this important pro-consumer legislation.


More information on seller’s disclosure

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law TAR-supported House Bill 890, authored by Rep. Charlie Geren and sponsored by Sen. Craig Estes, after the bill received overwhelming support in both chambers.

The bill puts a mechanism in place to provide real estate buyers disclosure about the impact of potential aircraft noise and other activities from nearby military installations.

The bill will add this language to TREC’s Seller’s Disclosure, effective Sept. 1, 2017:

This property may be located near a military installation and may be affected by high noise or air installation compatible use zones or other operations. Information relating to high noise and compatible use zones is available in the most recent Air Installation Compatible Use Zone Study or Joint Land Use Study prepared for a military installation and may be accessed on the Internet website of the military installation and of the county and any municipality in which the military installation is located.

Texas REALTORS® testified in support of HB 890 and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 775, by Sen. Craig Estes, during committee hearings. TAR supported the bills because they will provide potential buyers with information about military installations without putting a burden on sellers to investigate whether such disclosure may be required for a particular property.


Clearing up voter confusion

TAR-supported Senate Bill 957 passed the House and Senate unanimously and only needs the governor’s signature to become law.

The bill, which was authored by Sens. Donna Campbell and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and sponsored in the House by Reps. Jodie Laubenberg, Larry Gonzales, Gina Hinojosa, Charlie Geren, and Toni Rose, will clarify Texas ballots in several ways:

  • State propositions must be labeled with a number (Proposition 1, Proposition 2, etc.)
  • Local propositions must be labeled with a letter (Proposition A, Proposition B, etc.)
  • Propositions must be labeled with the entity ordering the election (State of Texas Proposition 1, City of Lakeway Proposition A, etc.)
  • State propositions must be listed above local propositions.

Once Gov. Abbott signs the bill, it will take effect immediately, which means the changes will be reflected on the November ballot—including the constitutional amendment to update home-equity lending provisions in the Texas Constitution.


Providing more transportation options

On Monday, Gov. Abbott signed HB 100 into law, effective immediately.

The bill provides clear statewide standards for transportation network companies by implementing several requirements, including:

  • TNCs must be permitted by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
  • TNCs must pay an annual fee ($5,000) to operate throughout the state
  • TNCs must perform annual local, state, and national criminal background checks on drivers.

This TAR-supported legislation had wide support in the Legislature, as it was authored by Rep. Chris Paddie, joint-authored by Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Poncho Nevárez, John Kuempel, and Geanie Morrison; coauthored by 67 other representatives; and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Charles Schwertner.

Read more about HB 100 in The Texas Tribune.


Fighting excessive fees on new construction

During the session, TAR joined with several other organizations in support of House Bill 1449, authored by Rep. Ron Simmons and sponsored by Sen. Jane Nelson, which will prohibit cities from imposing California-style linkage fees on all new residential and commercial construction.

These fees would raise costs to real estate consumers and harm economic growth and expansion in Texas. No cities in Texas currently impose linkage fees … and this legislation will ensure it stays that way.

Gov. Abbott signed the bill Monday, effective immediately.


Protecting private-property rights

Senate Bill 744, authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and sponsored by Rep. Dade Phelan, allows someone who has to remove trees on their property for construction or development to get credit for a municipal tree mitigation fee by planting a tree on the property or in a mutually-agreed upon other property.

If a municipality charges a fee for removing a tree from privately owned land, then the municipality has to provide tree-planting credits to offset the fee.

Once the governor signs, the bill will take effect immediately.


What Texas REALTORS® did in D.C.

Texas REALTORS® are engaged at every level of government—that’s why hundreds were in Washington, D.C. earlier this month to attend the National Association of REALTORS® Legislative Meetings.

During the five-day event, Texas REALTORS® met with the entire Texas Congressional delegation to advocate for real estate consumers.

They also recognized several Texans for their outstanding advocacy successes, including 1997 TAR President John Nichols, who received NAR’s Federal Political Coordinator (FPC) Meritorious Service Award for serving as Congressman John Culberson’s FPC.

Read a recap of the event on the Advice for REALTORS® blog.

About the Author:
The Texas Association of REALTORS® was established in 1920, and at 90,000 members strong is the largest professional membership association in Texas. With over 60 employees, and 89 local associations of REALTORS®, TAR is here to be the voice o real estate in Texas. The mission of the Texas Association of REALTORS is to promote and protect private-property ownership and rights, advocate for Texas REALTORS® and property owners and to keep homeownership affordable. While licensed real estate agents and brokers in Texas must follow state laws. Agents and brokers who join the Texas Association of REALTORS® also pledge to follow a higher set of standards—the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.


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