Our work at the Texas Capitol this year isn’t done yet.
After the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature concluded on May 29, Gov. Greg Abbott called the state’s lawmakers back to Austin for a special session, which started July 18.
The Texas Association of REALTORS® will continue to advocate for Texas real estate consumers to ensure their interests are protected.
What’s on the agenda
Gov. Abbott called the special session so lawmakers would pass legislation known as “sunset” bills that weren’t passed during the regular session. This legislation will allow certain state agencies to continue operating after they were reviewed by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.
On July 20, Gov. Abbott added to the call 19 other issues, including six issues related to real estate.
The Texas Association of REALTORS® Legislative Priorities for the 85th Texas Legislature—available at texasrealestate.com/issues—will continue to guide TAR’s advocacy efforts during the special session.
Here’s where TAR stands, or what we expect to happen, on the six real estate-related issues:
- School finance reform commission: TAR applauds the governor for asking the Legislature to create a commission that would recommend improvements to the public school finance system. TAR believes it’s time for a comprehensive review of the public school finance system and the franchise tax (also known as the business tax) and their impact on local property taxes.
- Property tax reform: TAR will continue to advocate for more honesty and transparency in the process local taxing entities use to set property tax rates. This has been a priority to Texas REALTORS® during the 85th Texas Legislature. These were addressed in TAR-supported Senate Bill 669 as passed by the House; however, the Legislature didn’t ultimately pass comprehensive property tax reform in the regular session.
- Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land: During the regular session, TAR supported Senate Bill 744, which would have allowed private-property owners to apply for a credit from their city to offset fees associated with removing trees from their own property. However, Gov. Abbott vetoed the bill because he said it didn’t go far enough to protect private-property owners. TAR hopes that similar legislation will make its way through the special session.
- Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects: TAR welcomes any opportunity to enhance or expand protections afforded to property owners seeking to develop their property.
- Speeding up local government permitting process: TAR supports legislation that fosters the state’s pro-business environment.
- Municipal annexation reform: TAR anticipates legislation will be filed that requires cities to have voter approval to annex an area. Similar legislation was debated during the regular session, but it didn’t ultimately pass.
How to stay in the loop
A special session may last up to 30 days, but it can be shorter. And the legislative process moves fast—bills can move forward, be amended, or be killed in a matter of hours.
The best way to remain up-to-date is to subscribe to TAR’s Legislative Liaison newsletter at texasrealestate.com/liaison.
This weekly digest explains public policy, politics, and regulatory changes from the Texas REALTOR® perspective.
Need a regular session refresher?
The regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature had several important successes for Texas real estate consumers, including enhanced disclosures, prohibitions on fees, and a way for more homeowners to access the equity in their homes.
Read a recap in the July issue of Texas REALTOR® magazine.