Written February 6, 2017

Dear Good People,

It's that time of the biennium again! The Texas Legislature's in Session, for the 85th time since Texas became a State. 

As I've done for the last six Sessions, I'll periodically report on bills that seem likely to affect the creation and operation of common interest developments in Texas - subdivisions and condominiums - anything with mandatory membership and assessments.

Lawmakers began filing bills three months ago, in advance of the 85th Session which began one month ago. Most 2017 bills will be filed during the next 30 days.

Of the bills filed through last week, I've identified nine POA-specific law changes in four bills - all House Bills:

HB 522 by Schofield (attorney from Houston area - Katy)
HB 755 by Parker (from Flower Mound in Denton County)
HB 923 by Shaheen (from Plano in Collin County)
HB 1341 by Munoz, Jr. (attorney from Hidalgo County - Mission)

One of the four bills - HB 1341 - is an OMNIBUS BILL with six unrelated parts, each of which could be a separate bill. By sharing one bill number, the six parts don't attract as much attention as six bills would. There will be only one hearing for the one Omnibus Bill number. Six bills would have meant six hearings ~ and more scrutiny. (If I accidentally type "Ominous Bill," you'll know why.) 

Like the many previous Omnibus Bills in the POA realm, HB 1341 has such a broad caption (subject thumbnail) that it's likely to be a vehicle for amendments as it moves through the chambers. What, you ask, is the caption of HB 1341? Here comes . . .

"relating to property owners' associations"

LOL! There is no broader caption for POA bills. HB 1341 has the makings of a shape shifter.

Enough chit-chat. Let's get down to business. I've attached a 3-page


- my first of this Session, so you haven't missed anything. The first two pages cover the nine POA-specific law changes. The third page is devoted to the Omnibus Bill, so you can see all six parts at a glance. 

This is my seventh Session reporting on POA Bills. Here's hoping it's a dreadfully dull Session, POA-wise. The fewer new laws the better.
TLO Website
The Texas Legislature Online website is the second best thing about our Legislature. (The first being the hiatus between sessions.) TLO is chock full of information and fueled by a powerful search engine that's easy to learn and use. Open 24/7 for free. If you have any interest in legislation, you'll love exploring this amazing website. Look for the "My TLO" tab next to "Home" in the top left corner. Here you can sign up for automatic email alerts of bills that interest you, or topics, or committee meetings. All bills are available to you on the Texas Legislature Online (TLO) website.
2017 Dates of Interest - 

January 10, 2017 - Opening day of 85th Regular Session
March 10, 2017 - Deadline for filing bills (with some exceptions)
May 29, 2017 - Last day of Session - 140th day (no exceptions)
June 18, 2017 - Last day Governor can veto or sign a bill that passed 
August 28, 2017 - Effective date for bills without specific effective dates
85th Legislature (Texas Civics 101)
Texas is one of only 4 states with biennial legislatures. (The rest meet annually.) The Texas legislature meets for only 140 days (January-May) in odd numbered years - the pattern since Texas became a state in 1845, except for some interruptions during the Civil War and its aftermath. Each biennial session is numbered - this being the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, also referred to as the 85th Legislature.   
Two Chambers (Texas Civics 102)
For a bill to become law, it must be passed by both chambers (House and Senate) and must not be vetoed by the Governor.

The Texas House of Representatives has 150 members, led by Speaker Joe Straus in his fifth term as Speaker. The Speaker is chosen from and by the Representatives. As of 2/5/17, the Speaker hasn't announced House Committee assignments. Last Session the House had 38 committees, of which the Business & Industry Committee got most of the POA Bills in the House.

The Texas Senate has 31 members led by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in his second term. The office of Lieutenant Governor is filled by statewide election. The Senate as 15 committees, all of which have been appointed for 2017. Last session the Business & Commerce Committee got most of the POA Bills in the Senate.  
More Numbers
Since the Session started 4 weeks ago, 2,000+ bills have been filed ~ considerably more than this time last Session. With a whole month left for filing, we may exceed 6,300 bills - the average number of bills filed over the last 5 Sessions. A passage rate of 25% is fairly typical. (Looking forward to 1,500+ new laws?!?)
HOA/POA Slang
Here are some of the word-use quirks about this newsletter. 

I use  HOA (homeowners association) and POA (property owners association) interchangeably (and inconsistently) to refer to the mandatory membership association for any type of common interest development ( CID ) - condos, townhomes, subdivisions, masters, mixed-use, and subs.
 
As a convenience, I divide the universe of CIDs into two camps. A CID is either a condominium or a subdivision.  Condos are subject to Property Code Chapter 82 (TUCA). Any CID that's not a condo is - by default - a subdivision . Residential subdivisions are subject to Property Code Chapter 209. Both condos and subdivisions are subject to Property Code Chapter 202.  (Siri, which Chapter do I need?)
Perspective
This newsletter's voice is entirely mine. I try to call it like I see it, and reserve the right to change my mind. I receive no income for my legislative reporting. I'm not a lobbyist ~ don't head any group or promote any cause ~ don't expect to go to Austin for hearings.  This newsletter is my nerdy biennial passion. 
 
I'm a Texas real estate lawyer who works with developers of common interest developments. I write the "HOA docs" for new communities and advise developers on HOA issues that arise during build-out. There's more about my background on the Sharon Reuler, PC website.
Permission
You may forward this newsletter to your people. I invite you to tell me about my mistakes and to share with me what you know about pending POA bills. The contact info below tells you how to reach me. If I'm not responsive, it's because I'm joyfully tied-up with my day job. Although I aspire to be active on social media, I'm still old school. 
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