77th Legislative Session: The Story Thus Far
The session is in full swing and the 77th Legislature is making decisions on how Texas will meet its many pressing needs. As usual, housing and community development issues are holding considerable attention under the pink dome of the Texas capitol.
Bills have been introduced and referred to committee regarding opportunities addressing the service delivery of many of TDHCA's programs, which could mean significant changes for the Department and those who apply for its funding. The following list highlights just a few of the bills affecting TDHCA and its subgrantees, as of March 1:
HB 7 by Warren Chisum: Establishes a new Office of Rural Community Affairs and transfers the Department's CDBG Program to the new agency.
HB 191 by Lon Burnam: Establishes a 15 percent set-aside in the Housing Trust Fund each biennium to assist individuals with special needs.
HB 829 by Fred Hill: Amends TDHCA's statute to remove the limitation that a "colonia" must be located within 150 miles of Texas' border with Mexico.
HB 1392 by James Keefer: Adds Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs) to the list of organizations for which a property tax exemption, once granted, continues in effect until the ownership of the property changes.
HB 1409 by Robert Junell: Prohibits Councils of Government from collecting a fee for administering CDBG contracts.
HB 2116 by Allan Ritter: Adds certain restrictions to local housing finance corporations when financing multifamily housing developments.
HB 2375 by Lon Burnam: Requires at least one member of TDHCA's governing board be a person with a disability and that at least one be an income-elgible resident of Section 8 housing.
HB 2377 by Lon Burnam: Sets accessibility standards for properties funded through the Housing Tax Credit Program.
SB 125 by Florence Shapiro: Changes the due date of the State Low Income Housing Plan and Annual Report to December 18.
SB 198 by Michael Moncrief: Applies contract for deed homebuyer protections statewide.
To read more about these bills or to learn about the many other bills affecting TDHCA, please visit the Legislature's website: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/. The website allows you to search for bills filed by bill number, author, subject, committee and/or a keyword. You can read the text of a bill and learn its status in the process. For those of us whose recall of high school civics is rusty, the site also provides an overview of the legislative process.
The Texas House and Senate also have websites to keep Texans informed. Through them you can follow Committee schedules and find out when public hearings on the bills will take place. You may also listen to Committee hearings and meetings of the full House or Senate through these websites. The House website is http://www.house.state.tx.us/. The Senate website is http://www.senate.state.tx.us/.