A New Year and renewed sense of purpose has enveloped the HAR Governmental Affairs team. 2017 looks to be the calm before the storm of the 2018 Midterm elections, but there will be plenty to keep us busy in the meantime.
First, the 85th Legislative Session begins on Tuesday, January 10. The team will be in attendance for the opening day to offer best wishes to the newest local elected officials and say hello to dear friends. Freshman Legislators from the Houston area are Senator Boris Miles, Representatives Ernest Bailes, Briscoe Cain, Jarvis Johnson, Tom Oliverson, Kevin Roberts, Valoree Swanson, and Shawn Thierry. Representative-Elect Mary Ann Perez will return to Austin for her second term after reclaiming her former seat.
Prefiling began the first Monday after the general election, November 14, and many state legislators and their aides were waiting well before the doors opened at 8 a.m. The bills are filed sequentially, and many elected officials covet low bill numbers. Senator Judith Zaffirini of Laredo filed a staggering 42 pieces of legislation. The Governmental Affairs staff and Governmental Affairs Co-Chairman Ray Wade had the opportunity to visit with Senator Zaffirini during her Houston luncheon held on November 30.
Top priority for this session is sure to be property taxes. The team will be following this item closely as well as any other REALTOR® related issues that may arise. Visit the Texas Association of REALTORS® website www.hiddenpropertytax.com. Mark your calendars now to participate in Texas REALTOR® Lobby Day Tuesday, April 4. This biennial event gives Realtors across the state an opportunity to engage with their state elected officials on Realtor issues. Team captains and spokespersons will be assigned and buses will be reserved to make it convenient for our members to travel to Austin for a fun and eye-opening experience.
Looking ahead are the local municipal elections for Pearland and Sugar Land which will be held on Saturday, May 6. Our Political Affairs Advisory Leadership, comprised of REALTOR® volunteers, will conduct candidate interviews, make recommendations for the approval of the HAR Board of Directors, and engage in get-out-the-REALTOR-vote efforts to help ensure victory on Election Day. As many of you know, the City of Houston will not be holding elections as the term limits were extended from three two-year terms, to two four-year terms. Pending the outcome of ongoing litigation, the next election for the City of Houston Mayor and Council Members will be held in November 2019.
Congratulations to HAR recommended candidate Gordy Bunch on being chosen to serve as Chairman of The Woodlands Board of Directors. We look forward to continuing to work with him and other members of the Township Board as they navigate the issue of planning for incorporation.
On the federal level, plans are underway for our annual congressional visits in Washington, D. C. on May 17 and 18. Mark your calendars now to participate in meetings with our members of the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives. So many changes are in the forecast under the Trump Administration that our visits with our congressional delegation are sure to be interesting!
The HAR Governmental Affairs Team will keep you up to date so that you have the opportunity to participate in HAR’s respected political process. Look out for updates during the Legislative Session through our many outlets, www.harconnect.com, HARtbeat, and the HAR Facebook page and Twitter account.
Best wishes to you and your family for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2017!