Texas REALTORS® had great success on Election Day, with 89% of REALTOR®-supported candidates winning their races.
But electing pro-real estate candidates to the Texas Legislature is just the first step. Now we must work with the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives and the 31 members of the Texas Senate to pass legislation that favors real estate consumers and your industry.
Lawmakers depend on subject-matter experts and industry professionals to educate them about a bill’s merits. It’s up to Texas REALTORS® to ensure lawmakers are getting accurate information about the potential impact of real estate-related bills.
While you’re serving your clients, the volunteer leaders and staff of your association are educating lawmakers about the importance of protecting private-property rights and the real estate industry. Here are a few issues we expect to be considered at the Texas Capitol in 2019.
Texas Real Estate Commission
In 2018, the Texas Real Estate Commission underwent analysis by the Texas Sunset Commission—an in-depth process also known as a “Sunset review.” The Sunset Commission’s purpose is to conduct thorough analyses of all state agencies to ensure they are providing the best and most efficient services to their stakeholders. The Sunset Commission issued a report in October listing recommendations to improve the service TREC provides to license holders and consumers. Now we expect lawmakers to consider legislation addressing the Sunset Commission’s recommendations.
See you in Austin on March 26
One reason Texas REALTORS® are successful in working with the Legislature is because of the strong turnout during REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol.
This daylong event brings thousands of Texas REALTORS® to the statehouse to meet with your lawmakers one on one and educate them on the impact that proposed legislation may have back home.
The Texas REALTORS® headquarters is just across the street from the Texas Capitol, so be sure to make plans to head over and enjoy a barbecue lunch after your meetings.
Contact your local association to attend.
Property Taxes/Appraisal Reform
The rapid increase in local property taxes was a priority issue for the Legislature in 2017.
Last session, lawmakers debated reforming the property tax system in several ways that would make the process more understandable for taxpayers, including lowering the rollback rate from 8% and providing more proactive information from local governments about their proposed tax rates.
However, none of these measures ultimately passed, but they highlighted taxpayers’ growing frustration with the process and reasons behind skyrocketing property tax bills.
We expect the Legislature to continue discussing the truth-in-taxation measures proposed in the 2017 session, including enhanced taxpayer notifications and the elimination of a petition requirement on the rollback tax rate, which will improve public education about appraisals and the process to set tax rates.
The largest part of a property owner’s property tax bill goes to school taxes. However, some school districts don’t get to keep all of the tax dollars their property owners pay.
Texas REALTORS® expects the Legislature to continue discussing ways to improve the current school finance system and ease the burden on local taxpayers.
Texas gains more than 1,000 new residents per day, and our transportation infrastructure is struggling to keep up with this demand.
Despite legislation from past sessions that would improve Texas roadways, lawmakers are likely to propose more transportation-funding bills.
Some Texas municipalities have approved ordinances banning short-term rentals. These measures violate private-property owners’ rights to use their properties as they wish.
Texas REALTORS® expects to see proposed legislation that would prevent a local entity from prohibiting short-term rentals in its jurisdiction.
A law that was passed in 2017 put Texas counties in two categories for annexation-related purposes, based on population.
Several counties across the state petitioned to include propositions on their ballot on November 6 to become counties that would allow residents a vote before their property is annexed. These ballot measures were overwhelmingly approved on Election Day. This support tells lawmakers that Texans demand the opportunity to have a say in whether their property is annexed.
We may see proposed legislation that would make this a requirement statewide, regardless of a county’s population.
Did you know … ?
The clock is ticking. The Texas Legislature only meets for up to 140 days every two years.
They get a head start.Lawmakers began filing bills November 12, 2018.
But they can’t really start right away. The Texas Constitution says lawmakers cannot pass legislation during the first 60 days of a regular legislative session unless the legislation is related to an issue the governor has declared an emergency. This could be any issue the governor wants to be prioritized in that year’s session, or any issue the governor wants to support. If a bill is related to a governor’s emergency item, members may vote on it earlier in the session.
That leaves 80 days to do the state’s business … except that they don’t generally work on weekends until late in the session, when time is running out.
They could be back. The governor could call lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session—or two or three—to consider legislation related to specific issues determined by the governor. In 2017, Gov. Greg Abbott called lawmakers back to Austin for a special session to consider legislation related to a list of 19 issues.