REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol
March 22, 2023
Thousands of REALTORS® from across Texas visit with their state representatives and senators each legislative session. The event is a cornerstone 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. Your state association will ensure you have the latest updates on the 2023 event—in person for the first time since 2019!
Sign Up to Stay in the Loop
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 at texasrealestate.com/liaison. Just check the Legislative Liaison box and click Save.
Quick Off the Blocks
Bill filing for the 88th Texas Legislature began November 14, 2022. In the Senate, 216 bills were filed—the most filed in that chamber since 2009. Meanwhile, House members filed 689 bills, shattering the opening day record set last session with 409 bills.
Working with the Legislature
TREPAC-supported candidates had incredible success in the November 8 election, with 99.4% winning their races. Now that the elections are over, REALTORS® are working to build new relationships and foster existing ones to ensure the REALTOR® voice is heard at every level of government.
87th Session Recap
- 7,327 bills were filed.
- 16 staff members at Texas REALTORS® reviewed and analyzed bills throughout session.
- Staff identified 2,623 bills that could impact real estate. Texas REALTORS® 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.
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 association solicits 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 session, LMT members receive frequent updates from Texas REALTORS® Governmental Affairs staff, who are responsible for implementing the LMT’s decisions.
At legislative hearings, Texas REALTORS® leaders and members may testify in support of or in opposition to proposed bills. Lawmakers depend on these professional perspectives about how an idea may affect communities locally or statewide.
- November 14, 2022: Bill filing began
- January 10, 2023: First day of session
- March 10, 2023: Bill filing deadline (some exceptions)
- May 29, 2023: Last day of session (adjournment sine die)
- June 18, 2023: Deadline for governor to sign or veto legislation
- September 1, 2023: Effective date for finally passed bills (unless otherwise dated)
The 88th Texas Legislature will convene at noon on January 10 for a session likely to be defined by an unusually large budget surplus. Every cycle, the Legislature is only required to pass one bill: the state’s two-year budget. That budget is based on the biennial revenue estimate generated by the Texas comptroller of public accounts. At the start of the 2021 legislative session, the comptroller had estimated a budget shortfall of $4.6 billion due to decreased sales tax revenue and decreased oil revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislators passed a sparse budget accordingly. However, increased spending boosted sales tax collections during the economic bounce-back, causing actual revenue over the last two years to exceed that low forecast. Now, going into the new session, lawmakers are looking at a large budget surplus. “The budget surplus will dominate the conversation,” says Tray Bates, Texas REALTORS® Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “This presents an entirely different landscape than the one we worked in two years ago.”
The upcoming session will present numerous opportunities for bipartisan collaboration as lawmakers look for ways to spend that surplus in ways that benefit Texans.
Following are several real estate-related issues state lawmakers are expected to consider next year.
Property Tax Reform
Alleviating the burden of high property taxes is a perennial mission for lawmakers in Texas, which has among the highest property tax rates in the country.
The anticipated budget surplus presents an opportunity for lawmakers to get creative with their approach to this issue. Some decision-makers may wish to seek one-time refund checks to property owners, or lawmakers might use the surplus to fund or help restructure the state’s public school system—among the biggest expenses for property taxpayers.
Although monumental property tax transparency and reform legislation was passed in 2019, there is still substantial work that needs to be done to educate consumers on the local budget-setting processes that impact the bills they receive each year. Lawmakers may take up legislation that would further clarify the intent to inform taxpayers and increase taxpayer engagement in the property tax process.
“Property tax legislation likely will come in three forms: exemptions and deductions, state funding in schools, or transparency,” says Julia Parenteau, Director of Public Policy for Texas REALTORS®.
A hot housing market emerged during the pandemic as low interest rates made it possible for stir-crazy and eager buyers to purchase property. However, supply chain issues compounded with high demand caused housing supply to decrease and prices to skyrocket, resulting in a challenging marketplace. There are numerous legislative routes that could boost affordability: workforce development, removing regulatory barriers to construction, or changing land use regulations. Expect lawmakers from both parties to come at this problem from a variety of angles.
Property Owners Associations
REALTORS® spearheaded monumental reform of homeowners and condo owners associations in the last legislative session. Legislation passed in 2021 increased transparency of association management and standardized some of their practices. However, REALTOR® clients have communicated their desire for additional reform, and Texas REALTORS® is already working with lawmakers and other stakeholders to determine what more could be done to help these property owners.
Natural disasters—including drought, historic ice storms, and flooding—have heightened awareness for the need to invest in the state’s aging infrastructure. Besides the budget surplus, billions of dollars in funding from federal legislation may go toward revamping transportation and water systems. There remains money to be spent from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (passed after the conclusion of 87th session). Those federal funds come with stipulations but expect lawmakers to investigate the various ways they can be put toward broad infrastructure improvements.