Issued May 28, 2017

Friends, are you sitting down?
Barring surprises*, this is a LANDMARK session for Texas HOAs. For the first time in 34 years, we have no new HOA-specific statutes. After 16 Sessions of sock-it-to-me HOA law-making, it seems unnatural - unreal - to have ZERO new HOA-specific statutes. There are a few law changes in Codes other than the Property Code that affect some HOAs - directly or indirectly. Even in that regard, there's not a whole lot to write home about. 

Since 1983 (when Texas adopted a Property Code) we've tinkered every Session with Titles 7 and 11 of the Property Code. Title 7 has the condo statutes - Chapters 81 & 82 (TUCA). Title 11 covers restrictive covenants, such as Chapters 202, 204, and 209, with which we're most familiar. This Session, the only change to Titles 7 and 11 is a ministerial elimination of a duplicate provision.

Caveat . . .   * Midnight on Monday May 29 is Sine Die - the mandatory end of the 140-day regular biennial 85th Legislative Session. Then the Governor has 20 days to sign and veto bills.  Any bill sent to the Governor that doesn't get vetoed becomes law - whether or not signed.  After June 18 we can talk with certainty about the new laws - assuming the information is posted timely on the State's website. Until then, legislative reporting is cautious . . . "barring surprises*."
Texas POA Bills Reports #8 
Report #8 [Link] includes a scorecard for all 37 bills I monitored as pertinent to Texas property owners associations - the 6 Finalists and the 31 Losers, with a spotlight on the Finalists:

2 bills signed by the Governor -
HB 561 by Murply re: use of delivery vehicles & regulation by POAs, effective 5/22/17
SB 1518 by Hancock re: corporation laws and voting rights, effective 9/1/17

2 bills on the Governor's desk
SB 873 by Creighton re: submetered water and sewer bills in multi-family projects
SB 1488 by West - an omnibus clean-up bill that eliminates duplicate provisions

2 bills expected to be sent to Governor -
HB 755 by Parker re: transfer fees for educational purposes in Denton County only
HB 1470 by Villalba re: excess foreclosure sale proceeds
Backyard Chickens Got Plucked in 2017
The Chicken Bill didn't make it . . . but just barely. Senate Bill 1620 by Van Taylor slip-slided through both chambers without changes or visible opposition. Fortunately, it ran out of time at two critical points. First, the Senate Bill lost a critical month waiting for the House to assign it to a House committee for hearing. Then, after the House hearing committee blessed the bill, the House calendar committee sat on the bill and ran out the clock. T hanks to anyone who helped slow down the badly worded bill. Chickens deserve better drafting and HOAs deserve an express carve-out. 

But, Sen. Taylor wasn't ready to quit his chickens. As a last ditch effort, he offered the text of his bill as the 40th of 49 Senate floor amendments to unrelated HB 4180 when it was considered on the Senate floor on May 23rd. Talk about piling on!! Besides chickens, the 49 floor amendments dealt with mosquitoes, bathrooms, sex offenders, taxes, military, alternative fuels, and a wild assortment of topics. Of course, the Senators approved the parasite-laden bill carrying their constituents' collective wishes. But . . . HB 4180 didn't have much hope of passing. The House would have to approve all 49 Senate amendments (unlikely), or a conference committee would have to work out the differences in the eye-blink of remaining Session. To see what floor amendments look like, click on this Action Report for HB 4180. Select any of the the "Amended" links. Sen. Taylor's chicken amendment starts on Page 2788.  
Lights Out for Religious Displays 
Like the Chicken Bill, the badly-worded Religious Displays Bill - Senate Bill 1609 by Bettencourt & Kolkhorst  - almost made it to the finish line. The Senate Bill started slow. After 6 weeks of no action in the S Business & Commerce Committee to which it was assigned, the authors got it moved to a more favorable committee - S Intergovernmental Relations, which Bettencourt vice-chairs. IGR pushed the bill through in record time. After clearing the Senate with a slew of added co-authors, the bill was quickly heard and approved by a House committee. 43 Reps co-authored the companion House Bill 522. This bill had a LOT of support among lawmakers in both chambers. It was clicking!! Looked like it couldn't be stopped. Until it got to the House calendars committee (local & consent), which never scheduled it for the House floor vote that might have secured its passage - even though 4 Reps on the calendars committee had signed on as co-authors of the House Bill. Although there wasn't much public testimony against the bill, I've heard that a number of organizations raised issues at the end that may have helped stall the bill until the clock ran. Thank you to whomever helped. Not too soon to start working on a better worded bill for 2019.   
Other "Thumbs Down" Bills Didn't Pass

Omnibus Collections Bill - HB 3528 by Vo died in H committee after being heard.
Omnibus Governance Bill - HB 1341 by Munoz died in H committee without a hearing. 
Declarant Control Bill - HB 2320 by Fallon  died in H committee after being heard.
Condo Creation Bill - SB 1542 by Kolkhorst died in S committee without a hearing. 
Delinquent Buyers - HB 3974 by Smithee  died in H committee after being heard.
Cohabitors as Directors - HB 4026 by Roberts passed the House, died in S committee.
Can Losers be revived in a Special Session?
You may be hearing that a Special Session is possible if the Lege doesn't complete certain business by midnight on Monday. Wondering whether any of the unsuccessful POA bills can be revived during a Special Session? Not likely.  Like a special meeting of an HOA, the only business that can be taken up during a 30-day Special Session of the Legislature is what the Governor states as its purpose. Usually it's a very narrow statement to attend to a particular piece of business that the Governor considers essential for the State to function - like the State's budget. FAQs about Special Sessions.  In the 36 years I've followed HOA legislation, I don't remember any Special Session being open to HOA bills. 

Texas Legislature Online has everything you might ever want to know about Texas laws, law-making, and lawmakers. Fabulous resource. 
My previous POA Bills Reports are available on my Blog page.

HOAs are legal entities for which Texas has "entity laws" - mostly found in the Texas Business Organizations Code. Austin attorney Rick Meyer pens the " Nonprofit Law and Policy Blog" that covers the 2017 Session.  
This newsletter's voice belongs to Sharon Reuler, about whom there's more info than you want or need on  Sharon Reuler, PC  website.
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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