Action Center: South Central Region
The action center is where information about legislative actions around the country are gathered and posted for the benefit of all members. If you have any information to add here to the South Central Region (Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fighting Short Term Lease Proposal
NARPM®s Austin Chapter is working with the local REALTOR® Association to fight a proposed ordinance currently being reviewed by Austin City Council which would severely limit the ability of owners to lease their properties on a short term (less than 30 days) basis. An issue overview can be found here.
- According to Quorum Report, TDHCA Executive Director Michael Gerber is stepping down in June.
- The Hill Visits news release and accompanying photo showed up in Las Vegas and in Times Square.
Halfway to the Governor's Desk!In a fast-paced floor session Wednesday, both SB 1000 (SDSI) and SB 1353 (DTPA) were unanimously passed out of the Senate.
SB 1353 passed with an association-supported amendment—more on that below.
SB 1000 passed with no amendments.
Many thanks to Sen. Kevin Eltife (Tyler), who authored both bills and saw them through the process.
The bills now go to the House for consideration.
Watch the Senate session – fast forward to 1:07:15. SDSI is first, DTPA immediately follows.
A Special Note from Tom Morgan, Senior Vice President of Legal AffairsSB 1353, the DTPA bill, passed the Texas Senate Wednesday by unanimous consent. This is a huge step forward.
To accomplish this feat, the association negotiated a floor amendment with the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) that removed all objections raised by individual Senators. Even though the TTLA agreed to the language, a few individual Senators still had reservations about the bill, which were eliminated with extensive work by association staff.
The bill accomplishes 100% of what the association sought to achieve with this legislation. By clearly eliminating the right of a consumer to plead a DTPA violation for an innocent misrepresentation by a real estate licensee, the legislation allows Texas REALTORS® to swiftly answer frivolous and abusive demand letters by parties who are seeking quick settlement for nuisance value.
In essence, the floor amendment allows a truly aggrieved consumer to sue a real estate licensee for unconscionable and intentional misrepresentation—a right the consumer also has under both common law and statutory fraud.
It was never the association's intent to protect real estate licensees against lawsuits for unconscionable and intentional misrepresentation, so this floor amendment is consistent with association policy.
If the bill becomes law, it will be, by some measures, the most significant legislative victory for Texas REALTORS® in over 35 years.
Furthermore, if the bill becomes law, the association's legal department will draft form-response letters that Texas REALTORS® can use as a member benefit to respond to frivolous demands.
Bigger Than the HouseThe Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) passed a budget on Thursday morning.
The Senate budget is $12 billion larger than the House version, but is 5.9% smaller than the current budget. Unlike the House version, the upper chamber's proposal calls for the use of over $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.
Just Ask!Reader question: Why does redistricting stir up so much passion?
Liaison Answer: Here's the short answer: The more direct control political parties have over the drawing of district lines, the more they are able to manipulate the lines to produce the results they want. And try as they might, it's impossible to remove partisan politics from the process.
For the long answer, start with a definition of redistricting from the Guide to Texas Legislative Information:
"A geographical division of the state into congressional, state representative, senatorial, or other legislative districts on the basis of the relative distribution of the state's total population. District boundaries are redrawn every 10 years following the publication of the U.S. census to ensure an appropriate number of districts of approximately equal population."
Legislators are constitutionally mandated to draw these lines—the process is carried out by House and Senate committees on redistricting.
Now, according to the 2010 census, there are 25,145,561 people living in Texas. Using that number, here's a breakdown of ideal districts:
- US Congress (36 districts) 698,488
- State Senate (31 districts) 811,147
- State House of Representatives (150 districts) 167,637
- State Board of Education (15 districts) 1,676,371
To further complicate matters, according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas is one of nine states subject to federal oversight of the redistricting process.
Republicans currently control 101 of the 151 seats in the House (a "supermajority") and 19 of 31 seats in the Senate. Most observers believe it's not feasible to draw federally approved district lines that would maintain that control.
Watch The Texas Tribune's Evan Smith interview the chairs of the redistricting committees, Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton).
Around the Web
- This Houston Chronicle article discusses the effect the state's demographic shift is having on a traditional powerhouse of politics—West Texas.
- TheTexas Observer looks at the controversy behind regulating natural-gas pipelines.
- In this San Antonio Express-Newsarticle, Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) seems open to a statewide property tax – see the last paragraph.
- Bill Hanna of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram examines problems legislators face when looking for a funding source for the State Water Plan.
- KUT News looks into a Kyle, TX company's $44 million contract to develop a wind-power storage solution. This system would help harness, store, and release wind-generated power.
- The Texas Supreme Court is reconsidering its November 2010 decisionon the Open Beaches Act.
- This list of additional revenue sources identified by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) has identified does not include real estate sources.
- Gov. Perry announces the Governor's Mansion will have solar panels when the renovation project is complete. In 2008, the mansion was severely damaged by a fire resulting from arson.
- The Texas Tribune looks at serious drought conditions in the Midland area.
- Just for fun, check out this Slackerwoodcollection of old film footage about Texas politics.
New Meth Lab Disclosure Requirement in Oklahoma
An Oklahoma bill that would require landlords to disclose whether or not a residence was previously used to manufacture methamphetamines to potential tenants will take effect starting November 1, 2010. The statute says landlords do not have to disclose the manufacture of methamphetamines in the residence if the level of contamination has been assessed and it "does not exceed one-tenth of one microgram per one hundred square centimeters of surface materials within the dwelling unit or pertinent part of the premises." Access the full story from Ada Evening News. Read an additional article on the legislation.
Texas Real Estate Commission Changes Proposed
For our members in Texas, NARPM® would like to bring your attention to a long list of proposed changed being considered by the Texas Real Estate Board (TREC). Below is a brief summary of some changes; however, we encourage you to take a few minutes to review the actual language being proposed which can be found here. There are also additional proposed changes to advertising regulations which can be found here.
Comments on the proposals may be submitted to Loretta R. DeHay, General Counsel, Texas Real Estate Commission, P.O. Box 12188, Austin, Texas 78711-2188. The deadline for comments is October 10th. Thank you to Jim Smith of Austin for bringing this information to our attention.
The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC or the commission) proposes amendments to §535.61, concerning examinations; §535.62, concerning Acceptable Courses of Study; and proposes new §535.63, concerning Accreditation of Core Education Schools; new §535.64, concerning Obtaining Approval to Offer a Course; new §535.65, concerning Operation of Core Education Schools; new §535.66, concerning Core Education Providers: Audits, Investigations, and Enforcement Actions; new §535.67, concerning Approval of Instructors; and new §535.68, concerning Additional Information Related to an Application. The commission renames the subchapter name from "Education, Experience, Educational Programs, Time Periods and Type of Licensure" to "Pre-License Education and Examination."
Farmers Branch Rental Ordinance Struck Down
A federal judge has ruled that a Farmers Branch ordinance banning illegal immigrants from renting apartments is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle of Dallas ruled Wednesday that the ordinance was an attempt to enforce U.S. immigration laws, something only the federal government can do. The ordinance established a licensing system for renters in Farmers Branch. Renters would be required to pay a $5 fee and obtain a residential occupancy license issued by the city's building inspector. Under the system, the building inspector would verify a renter's immigration status with federal officials if the renter did not declare him or herself a citizen or national of the United States. The city would revoke the licenses of people the federal government said were in the country illegally. Click here to access the full story from NBC-DFW.
Texas Legislative Network
In Texas, we are making a little progress in building a legislative network. We first sent a solicitation to all San Antonio members to submit their "pet peeves" that might be fixed by statutory changes. Didn't get a lot of fresh ideas, but had a few of our own. With help from some friendly lawyers, we drafted an initial working list. A few senior statewide names were added to the distribution list and several of the "big boys" asked to be added to the distribution list. Mark Kreditor, MPM® RMP®, widely respected in Texas property management circles, has helped and recommended that the distribution list statewide. In short, it seems to be taking off. Attributed to: Pat Patton of San Antonio, TX Chapter