Issued Monday, March 13, 2017
Above link pulls up a 12-page Report on bills that I identify as pertinent to Texas property owners association, filed in the 2017 Texas Legislature through the filing deadline of 3/10/17. The first page lists 34 bills in numerical order of filing - House and Senate Bills separately, and identifies the "topic" assigned (by me) to each bill.  The next 9 pages of the Report have thumbnail descriptions of the bills - in alpha order of topics.  The last two pages are devoted to the TWO Omnibus Bills - one page for each, so you can see all of their components at a glance.
WHO CARES ABOUT POA BILLS?
 
Developers & Builders.  You're in the crosshairs of at least 4 POA Bills that impede your ability to develop communities for tomorrow's Texans.

HOA Managers & HOA Lawyers.  Several bills limit your income and change your practices, mostly in pursuit of delinquent accounts. Ironically, the more complicated the laws, the greater the need for your services. 

Homeowners. Celebrate that m ost of the POA Bills are cloaked as "consumer protections." Hurrah! But, one size does not fit all. A law that protects one homeowner may indirectly penalize another. And a law that is sensible for a large HOA may be unreasonable for a small HOA, or vice versa. Bless those do-gooders' little hearts!

Investors & Landlords.    Check out the "Leasing" category in the Report. Also Ashby's HB 3974. Wonder if the law will change regarding "Air B&Bs" and short-term rentals.   
BILL FILING ENDED MARCH 10th. YAY!!!
Any proposed legislation that wasn't filed by midnight on Friday March 10 won't make an appearance this Session . . . barring unexpected circumstances (which DO occur). We now have a good idea of what's in the mix for this Session.

According to the State website, 6,487 bills were filed by the deadline - the second highest number in memory - exceeded only by the 2009 Session.

It's consoling to know that some of the 6,487 bills are "companions" - duplicates filed in both House and Senate - to increase the bill's chance of passage.

Also, some of the 6,487 bills are "Me, Too" bills. There are issues for which many lawmakers want credit as THE author of the bill that saves the day. So, each lawmaker files a bill that does almost the same thing, even though only one of the many bills may move forward, to which all their names may be added.

Some of the 6,487 bills were filed in response to a constituent's request, for which there's no organized support and about which the author doesn't feel strongly. Those bills may not be "worked".

Those consolations aside, 20 to 25% of filed bills typically pass. So, we can expect about 1,500 (groan) new laws when the dust settles in June. How many of those will be POA Bills? 
HOW A BILL BECOMES LAW
To become law, a bill has to be approved by both chambers - the House and the Senate - and not vetoed by the governor. It must survive a committee hearing in each chamber, and a "floor vote" in each chamber. A bill can continue to change everywhere along the line. Committees produce substitutes and amendments. Bills may also be amended during floor votes.

To become law, each bill gets two public committee hearings - first in the chamber in which the bill was filed (House bills in House committees), then in the other chamber (House bills in Senate committees). When a bill is "pending in committee" it has received its public hearing and may be voted out of committee at any time. The bill that gets voted out may be the same as - or different from - the version that was initially filed.

A bill that is changed in committee is called a "Committee Substitute", and it replaces the bill that was initially filed. Most often, the public does not have access to the Committee Substitute until it has passed out of committee and is in queue to be scheduled for a floor vote. The people who testify at hearings may have only seen the version that was initially filed, even though the author announces at the start of the hearing that he is offering a substituted version of the bill. It's not always easy to know if there is a substitute - or to get a copy of it before it's officially posted. Watching the hearing provides clues. On the bill's webpage (on the Lege's website) read what's on the "Actions" tab. Also, under the "Text" tab, look for a "Summary of Committee Action" in the right-hand column.

As the session progresses, the speed picks up, and it becomes increasingly difficult for citizens to monitor changes to a bill in "real time" unless you're pounding the halls of the State Capitol. That's why lobbyists earn their keep ~ they have access.

If you want to know more (and I hope you do), the Lege's website is a treasure trove of information. This will take you to " How a Bill Becomes Law" on the Lege's homepage.  
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)

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. The Speaker appointed 40 committees, of which the Business & Industry Committee is likely to get 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 this Session. Last session the Business & Commerce Committee got most of the POA Bills in the Senate.  
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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