February 14, 2019

HBA Government Relations Committee adopts legislative priorities for 86th Legislature

Last week, the Government Relations Committee adopted the HBA’s legislative priorities for the 86th legislative session.

HBA Legislative Priorities

Support TAB Legislative Agenda

Support the legislative agenda of the Texas Association of Builders by providing testimony and expertise from HBA of Greater Austin members and staff.

Hurricane Harvey and flood plain authority

Support efforts to increase penalties on unethical contractors and “bad actors” who have taken advantage of vulnerable families in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Oppose efforts by cities and counties to expand flood plain regulations beyond what is currently allowed by law.  A city currently has a wide range of authority to regulate its floodplain.  Although a county has less authority, there are still many tools available that could be better utilized by a county to ensure flood plains are safely regulated.

Tax reform / school finance

Support providing tax relief while also addressing the state’s crippled school finance system.  These two systems are intermingled and the legislature must consider a holistic solution.  The solution must not put so much pressure on cities and counties that they turn to onerous fees in order to make up for lost revenue due to a legislative cap.

Special purpose districts

Oppose efforts to reduce a builder’s ability to utilize special purpose districts such as MUDs, PUDs, PIDs, or TIRZ to finance critical infrastructure.  This includes any efforts to create a uniform template, reduce a district’s ability to levy an assessment, or abolish special purpose districts altogether.

Product mandates / design standards

Support legislation that prohibits a city from mandating a certain type of product or material for the construction of a home.  These mandates are used as a form of exclusionary zoning and serve as a way to restrict low socioeconomic buyers from moving into certain neighborhoods or municipalities.

Workforce and career & technical training

Support legislation that facilitates a pipeline between high school and trades programs.  This includes legislation that will better inform students about the benefits of working in the trades, discounts and rebates for trades programs, and partnerships between industry and public schools.

Support legislation to reduce insurance risk for builders who provide internship or apprenticeship opportunities for students.

Support legislation to remove barriers to exposing students to the trades by loosening requirements for builders to teach in public schools (e.g. requiring a teacher’s permit before being allowed to instruct).

Neighborhood planning groups and the Open Meetings Act

Support legislation that will require neighborhood planning groups to be more transparent and accessible to the public.  Currently, these groups serve as quasi-governmental entities that make important decisions about other people’s property, yet they have very little oversight.

Support efforts to make neighborhood planning groups more accessible and inclusive to all neighbors, including renters.

Historic zoning

Support legislation that prohibits a city from designating a piece of private property as historic against the owner’s will.  Historic designations have been used improperly by neighborhood groups as a way to strip a property owner of their right to enjoy their property as they best see fit.

Support legislation that establishes a higher threshold for a historic zoning.  Currently homes that do not meet federal and state qualifications historic designations are being designated historic by cities with weak evidence to support the designation.  A historic designation can reduce a property’s value by limiting an owner’s ability to make changes or improve the property.  By establishing a 75-year minimum for historic designation, a property owner can better know up front if their property may be deemed historic.

Accessory Dwelling Units

Support legislation that would allow an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to be built on more lots by right.  This housing type benefits homeowners by creating an additional revenue stream to allow them to stay in their home despite rising property taxes.  They benefit renters by allowing for more housing options in neighborhoods that would otherwise be unaffordable.  This housing type benefits tax payers by adding property tax value to the city’s roles without requiring substantial upgrades to the city’s infrastructure.

For more information, contact David Glenn, Director of Government Relations and Policy at david@hbaaustin.com.