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The best way to stay up to date on changes at the Texas Capitol is to subscribe to the Texas REALTORS® Legislative Liaison e-newsletter.
Subscribers receive frequent updates on real estate-related legislation during sessions and periodically during interim years.
Sign up through your profile at texasrealestate.com/liaison. Just check the Legislative Liaison box and click Save.
The legislative session that convenes in January 2021 likely won’t look like any other in our state’s history due to changes brought about by COVID-19. As with all sessions, though, ideas will be debated, bills will be passed and defeated, and Texas REALTORS® will be involved every step of the way.
Working with the Legislature
REALTOR®-supported candidates had incredible success in the November 3 election, with 95.6% of supported state and federal candidates winning their races.
The 87th Texas Legislature will include several freshmen among the 31 members of the Texas Senate and 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives.
Now that these candidates have been elected, REALTORS® are working to build new relationships and foster existing ones to ensure the REALTOR® voice is heard at every level of government.
The state’s changing needs will likely bring new priorities and a focus on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
November 9: Bill filing began
January 12: First day of session
March 12, 2021: Bill filling deadline (some exceptions)
May 31: Last day of session (Adjournment sine die)
June 20, 2021: Deadline for governor to sign or veto legislation
August 30, 2021: Effective date for finally passed bills (unless otherwise dated)
Topics Likely to Come Up
Following are several issues state lawmakers are expected to consider next year.
The Texas Legislature is only required to pass one bill: the state’s two-year budget.
The state has seen an estimated $4.6 billion budget shortfall due to decreased sales tax revenue and decreased oil revenue.
Lawmakers are expected to have some tough debates about funding state programs, as the state has significantly less money going into 2021 than expected.
Keeping Track and Taking Action
Texas REALTORS® staff reviews every piece of legislation filed each session to ensure the interests of real estate consumers and professionals are protected.
For example, in 2019:
- 7,851 bills were filed
- 16 staffers at Texas REALTORS® reviewed every single filed bill
- 2,784 bills were identified that could impact real estate. Staff tracked every one of those bills, so the association could support, oppose, or monitor bills based on whether they would be favorable or a hindrance to real estate consumers or professionals.
The U.S. Census Bureau conducted the national census in 2020 to update the population count.
The count helps ensure communities receive their share of more than $675 billion per year in federal funds for schools, hospitals, roads, and other vital programs.
The census count is also used for drawing updated district lines to determine representation in the Texas Senate, Texas House, U.S. Congressional delegation from Texas, Texas State Board of Education, and state judicial districts.
The Texas Legislature is responsible for drawing and adopting district boundaries as redistricting bills before the sessions ends. The passed bills then go to the governor to be signed into law.
If the Legislature fails to pass a redistricting bill or if the governor vetoes a redistricting bill, the responsibility goes to the Legislative Redistricting Board.
Learn more at redistricting.capitol.texas.gov.
Governmental Emergency Authority
What Will REALTOR® Day Look Like?
REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol, where thousands of members from across the state visit with their state representatives and senators each legislative session, is a major component of the association’s legislative efforts.
This grassroots event localizes, personalizes, and reinforces the association’s legislative agenda, putting lawmakers face-to-face with their constituents.
Currently, though, the Texas Capitol is closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which may affect in-person visits to the Texas Capitol in 2021.
Your state association will ensure you have the latest updates on the 2021 event.
Texas REALTORS® have remained in close communication with lawmakers through virtual visits and can readily use these tools to connect with elected officials to ensure real estate advocacy continues.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided several opportunities for elected officials to exercise authority in emergencies.
In the 2021 session, lawmakers will likely take up legislation that clarifies when emergency authority may be granted to the governor, the Legislature, or local authorities.
In 2019, the Legislature passed significant reforms to the state’s public school finance system (House Bill 3).
This REALTOR®-supported law is a comprehensive reform of the state’s public school finance system and property tax system to lessen the burden on local property taxpayers while increasing the state’s investment in educators and students.
Texas REALTORS® expects the Legislature to seek ways to maintain the commitment to school funding that was made in HB 3.
Broadband Internet Access
This year has illustrated the importance of technology access and its importance for educational and economic success.
Texas REALTORS® expects to see legislation filed that supports the development of and increased access to broadband technologies throughout the state.
What do You Know About Property Taxes?
Texas REALTORS® has been working to educate taxpayers statewide on the property tax system and changes resulting from the passage of property tax reform laws in 2019.
Visit knowyourtaxes.org to learn more.
The pandemic has also highlighted the need for Texans’ access to healthcare, including the need for medical care in less-populated areas of the state.
Lawmakers are likely to propose bills related to health insurance and hospital development in rural areas.
Property Tax Reform
In 2019, REALTOR®-supported property tax reform legislation (Senate Bill 2) brought monumental changes to the state’s property tax system.
Lawmakers are expected to take up legislation that would further clarify the reform’s intent to inform taxpayers and increase taxpayer engagement in the property tax process.
Texas REALTORS® members lead the association’s public policy initiatives at every step.
In interim years between sessions, members of the Public Policy Issues Committees on Taxation, Land Use, Infrastructure, and Business Issues spend hours hearing from subject-matter experts and researching issues identified by members.
Then they make recommendations to the Public Policy Oversight Committee, and the recommendations are posted on the Texas REALTORS® website to receive feedback from all members.
The final recommendations are submitted to the association’s Executive Board. Upon approval from the Executive Board, the Legislative Management Team (LMT) prioritizes the issues and develops the association’s strategy for the upcoming legislative session.
During the session, LMT members receive frequent updates from Texas REALTORS® Governmental Affairs staff, who are responsible for implementing the LMT’s decisions.
Also during session, Texas REALTORS® leaders and members may testify in support of or in opposition to legislation. Lawmakers depend on these professional perspectives about how a proposed bill may affect communities locally or statewide.