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Why the legislative system works in Texas

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01/19/2016 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman's Terms

I recently sat down with a group of real estate professionals from other states to compare our states’ legislative missions, successes, and challenges.

The conversation took a surprising turn, as representatives from state after state talked about the legislative gridlock and chronic bickering they encounter that makes passing the simplest pieces of legislation impossible. And when legislators in these states do take action, it’s often to pass sweeping legislative reforms that are just knee-jerk reactions to isolated or minor events. 

Unfortunately, as we see in the federal government, these reactionary laws produce bureaucratic quagmires that frequently worsen the situations they’re trying to fix—and never really help the people they were attempting to assist. As we know in Texas, if left alone, many of these matters self-correct through free-market adjustments or private-sector solutions.

I had very little to contribute to the conversation comparing legislative compromises and failures because the Texas Association of REALTORS® never has an unsuccessful legislative session when it comes to pro-business and pro-private-property rights. Instead, our challenge becomes how to prioritize our successes, such as major tax reforms, a reduction in property-taxes, a ban on future real estate taxes, and comprehensive reforms in the appraisal process.

So why is Texas different from so many other states and our federal government?

Unlike these governments, the Texas Legislature doesn’t meet on a full-time or annual basis.  Our state’s philosophy is volunteer legislators should meet for only 140 days every two years to address the issues of Texas. (They are basically volunteers, and the $600 they make monthly doesn’t cover most of the expenses they incur to serve in positions of public trust.) When those 140 days end, they go home to their districts, work in their businesses and, like all Texans, live under the laws they just passed.

This is a system that works, and it’s what makes Texas the free-enterprise envy of the nation … and that’s a conversation I’ll gladly join.  

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

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