Issued April 24, 2017

Dear Readers,

Today is a BIG day for POA bills. It's HEARING DAY for 4 POA Bills - one of which has 6 significant law changes. More like 9 POA Bills will be heard today.

If we show enough interest, a bad bill can be stopped, a good bill can move forward, and a broken bill can be fixed. Today (even tomorrow) is a good day to register FOR or AGAINST today's "hearing bills".  More below . . .
Today's Hearing Bills
 
Today a House Committee is holding a public hearing on 21 bills, of which 4 are POA Bills. Here's the Meeting Notice.  I stand in opposition to all 4 POA bills:  HB 2320 by Fallon, HB 3528 by Vo HB 3868 by Smithee HB 3974 by Ashby. More about each one below.
relating to declarant control of a property owners' association board.

STOP THIS BILL if you care about residential development in any capacity. This proposed law change is impractical, cumbersome, costly, contentious, and bad business.

While a project is growing and being populated, it's necessary and customary for the developer to run the show by appointing all the HOA directors - typically people who work for the developer. The HOA directors hire the HOA manager, adopt the HOA budget, set the assessments, and enforce the rules - all of which vitally affect the subdivision as it builds out. The faster a project sells out, the sooner homeowners will run the show. Putting homeowners in charge too soon hurts everyone.

Developers - wake up! Quit assuming you're in control as long as you own one lot. Your huge investment in the project is at stake, especially if your profit comes near the end of build-out.

Builders  - you want\need the developer in charge while you build and market new homes.

Managers - your expectation of managing the HOA through build-out is at stake.

Realtors - the HOA manager hired by the developer spits out what the title company needs to close.

Homebuyers - your assessments are likely lower while the developer controls your new HOA, and your HOA is being run by folks with experience, knowledge, and resources.

This bill does two BAD things:

BAD ONE - It requires homebuyers to elect the board too soon. This bill requires board elections when a subdivision is only 50% built. At 50% one-third of the HOA's directors must be elected - without the developer's votes. At 75% a majority of the HOA's directors must be elected - without the developer's votes.

BAD TWO - Board meetings must be held within 10 miles of the subdivision during declarant control. How many developers office within 10 miles of their projects?
OPPOSE HB 3528 by Vo [link] - the OMNIBUS Collections Bill
relating to the collection of past due assessments and certain other charges by a property owners' association.

I'll forgo ranting about the inherent evils of Ominbus Bills. There are 6 separate stand-alone law changes in this bill. Some changes are tolerable, some are AWFUL. With no way to separate wheat from chaff under one bill number, the whole bill should be STOPPED.  Here's my analysis of HB 3528 with talking points for speaking out against it.  
relating to the vote to authorize background and criminal history checks on tenant applicants by a  property owners' association.

Another well-intentioned but slippery paving stone on the risky road to heck. If approved by "a majority of owners", HOA may investigate the background and criminal history of prospective tenants in the subdivision. Bill is silent as to what the HOA does with the info. HB 3868 may inadvertently legitimize short-term rentals. BAD. Criminal check may trigger fair housing investigation. See HUD Policy issued 4/4/16. Another BAD - a "majority of owners" is different than owners of a majority of the lots or owners holding a majority of the votes. Also BAD - approval procedure in HB 3868 overrides all other approval procedures. That's a slippery slope.
relating to the eligibility of an individual, company, or corporation to purchase lots within an  association or subdivision under the Texas Residential Property Owners Protection Act.

Yet another well-intentioned but badly conceived bill. Home Builders, Mortgage Lenders, Investors & Title Insurers, Beware. Fuzzy intent. Nice idea - to stop a delinquent owner from buying even more lots or homes in the subdivision. But . . . how to achieve viz-a-viz disputed charges, foreclosure sale buyers, title insurance issues, use of trustees and single-asset entities to purchase, yada yada? The devil's in the details . . . and in this bill. Stop it!
Texas POA Bills Reports #6 
 
These reports cover 37 bills that I identify as pertinent to Texas property owners associations. This time I divided the bills into two reports - one for bills that are moving, another for those that haven't yet been scheduled for a hearing.

ACTIVE Report #6 [link] covers  25 active b ills in numerical order, and identifies the "topic" I've assigned to each bill. The next 8 pages have thumbnail descriptions of the 25 active bills - in alpha order of topics. The last page is devoted to the Omnibus Collections Bill, so you can see all of its components at a glance.

INACTIVE Report #6 [link] covers 12 bills that have seen no action since being filed - bills that are close to running out of time. The number "12" is a tad deceptive because 4 of the inactive bills have companions (their twins) which are active and moving.  
HOW TO OPPOSE OR SUPPORT A BILL
 
To The Point. At the start of every communication, state [1] Bill Number, [2] Bill Author, and [3]  whether you "OPPOSE" or "SUPPORT" the bill. [4]  If you vote in the district of the lawmaker you are contacting, also state that you are his or her CONSTITUENT. [5] If you have any other connection with the lawmaker, say so at the beginning. Those 5 items of info may be as far as anyone reads or hears, and it's enough for purposes of tallying "yays" and "nays". [6] After you spit out those essentials, please give reasons for your opposition or support. Bullet points are fine. Don't try to be funny or subtle, and don't expect the lawmaker's staff to "figure out" your position or read all the way to end of your remarks. There's not enough time under the Dome!

Deliver the Message Whether or not you attend a hearing in person, you can deliver your message by email or phone or fax, or even on paper. Each lawmaker's contact info is on the Legislature's website, from which this tidbit is borrowed . . .

2. How do I send e-mail to my representative or senator?
It is each legislator's prerogative to support feedback through e-mail. If a legislator chooses to do so, you can find an e-mail feedback form on the legislator's home page. You can find your representative on the house website and your senator on the senate website.

To Whom? To be most effective, hold your fire for the most opportune time. Texas Legislature Online has everything you want to know about committee members and the status of a bill. 

In Committee. While a bill is "in committee" - scheduled for a hearing or pending after the hearing - let the committee members know - especially the committee chair and any committee member who represents you or knows you. The hearing committee decides whether the bill is voted out of committee, and what form it takes. They can make changes to the bill, and they can sit on a bad bill and keep it in committee. 

Calendar Committee.  The calendar committees of each chamber decide which bills make it to the chamber floor for a vote that may move the bill closer to adoption. If you have influence with members of a calendar committee that is sitting on a bill that concerns you, speak up!

Floor Vote. When a bill is calendared for a floor vote of the House or Senate, that's the best time to pound on the lawmaker who represents your district, any lawmaker with whom you have a relationship, and all the lawmakers in the chamber that will be voting on the bill. Lawmakers pay more attention when a bill generates public interest. It's a numbers game.

Your Organizations.  One of the most effective ways to influence legislation is through lobbying organizations of which you are a member. That organization WANTS to hear from its members about legislation that does - or should - interest the organization. Its lobbyists are trained to carry your message to the right lawmaker and the right time. If you're not a member of an organization that lobbies for your interests, join one!! Every subdivision developer and homebuilder in Texas - bar none - better oughta be a member of TAB (Texas Association of Builders). Realtors have TAR. Mortgage bankers have TMBA. Title companies have TLTA. HOAs and their managers have TCAA. HOAs also have TNT. And so forth.
TODAY'S COMMITTEE HEARING

Today at 10 am, in Austin, the House Committee on Business & Industry will hold public hearings on 21 bills - of which 4 are POA Bills. If the Committee is still taking testimony at 2 pm, the Committee is likely to break for the general session of the House, which is scheduled to start at 2 pm. When the general session ends, the Committee will reconvene to continue taking testimony. Some hearings take all day and into the night, with no guarantee of when "your" bill will be called.

You can watch today's hearing "live" using the House's videocam. The tape will also be available as an "archive" for later viewing. If you've never seen a House Committee Hearing, today's may be a good one to watch. 

Here's the cast of characters for today's B&I Committee:

Rep. René Oliveira, Chair
Brownsville, District 37
(512) 463-0640

Rep. Hugh Shine, Vice-Chair
Temple, District 55
(512) 463-0630

Members:

Rep. Nicole Collier
Fort Worth, District 95
(512) 463-0716

Rep. Ramon Romero
Fort Worth, District 90
(512) 463-0740

Rep. Jonathan Stickland
Bedford, District 92
(512) 463-0522

Rep. Jason Villalba
Dallas, District 114
(512) 463-0576

Rep. Paul Workman
Austin, District 47
(512) 463-0652
Who IS your lawmaker?
 
This link takes you to the Legislature's look-up. (Don't be embarrassed - few of us know.)
 
Numbers
 
POA Bills. Of the 37 POA-pertinent bills in Report #6:
 
8 have been approved by Chamber 1 - status #4
7 are out of Committee in Chamber 1 - status #3
5 had hearings and are pending in Chamber 1 Committee - status #2
4 are being heard TODAY in a Chamber 1 committee - status #1
12 have been assigned to Committees in Chamber 1 - status #1

Timeline.  April 24th is the 105th day of the 140 day Session. Only 35 days to go. There is still time for any bill - even one that hasn't had its first hearing - to become law. If you're trying to stop a bill, keeping slugging! Every day that a bill doesn't move increases the odds that it won't complete all the hurdles before Sine Die.

2017 Dates of Interest - 
January 10, 2017 - Opening day of 85th Regular Session
March 10, 2017 - Deadline for filing bills
May 8, 2017 - Last day for House committees to report bills
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
Perspective
This newsletter's voice belongs to Sharon Reuler, about whom there's more info than you want or need on  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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