HAR worked closely with Texas REALTORS® and other key stakeholders to ensure our legislative priorities were met and to address any other issues that may have arisen.


Everything really is bigger in Texas:

While the Texas Legislature may still be convening in Austin for special sessions, it is important to look back and review which bills passed during the 88th regular legislative session, and how they will impact us once they become law in September. As we discussed in our February 2023 article, Texas had over a $30 billion budget surplus to work with this session. This is an amazing amount of extra dollars for a state. For context, this is larger than the entire budget of nearly half the states in the country.

REALTOR® Priorities:

HAR worked closely with Texas REALTORS® and other key stakeholders to ensure our legislative priorities were met and to address any other issues that may have arisen. One of the main priorities was property tax relief for Texans. Unfortunately, an agreement was not met during the regular session and as of now the legislature is in its second special session to find a remedy. In addition to taxes, infrastructure funding including flood relief and broadband was a key issue, as well as addressing homeowner association issues, appraisal districts and other critical issues. You can find the complete list of priorities by clicking here.    

Flood Relief:

On flooding, the state has committed $625 million from the surplus to be used by the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) for projects included in Texas’s first-ever State Flood Plan which will be adopted on September 1, 2024. Along with the funding for the FIF, $550 million of the surplus was allocated to the long-discussed “Ike Dike”, making what was once a dream project for many flood experts one step closer to becoming a reality. Rep. Armando Walle, a Houston legislator who HAR works with closely, was instrumental in getting this funding allocated to flood relief.

Broadband Access:

The legislature also allocated $1.5 billion to improve the state’s broadband infrastructure by way of House Bill 9 authored by Rep. Trent Ashby, which was supported by HAR and Texas REALTORS®. Texas voters will have the opportunity this November to vote on HB 9’s companion House Joint Resolution 125, which would create the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund set up by House Bill 9. To tackle the state’s aging water infrastructure, the state set aside $125 million which will, in turn, unlock about $750 million of federal funding.

Local vs. State:

One of the major themes of the 88th Legislative Session was legislation targeting the state’s urban population centers, with the majority aimed at Harris County. The most high-profile of these bills was the preemption bill, House Bill 2127, also known as the Death Star Bill. This bill allows the state to preempt local ordinances in areas like finance, labor, environment, public health, and more. The Governor signed HB 2127 into law and is set to take effect on September 1, however the City of Houston has filed a lawsuit attempting to have the bill thrown out in court.

A pair of election-related bills by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt also took aim directly at Harris County. Senate Bill 1750 eliminates the Harris County Elections Administrator position and returns the duties of running elections to the county clerk and tax assessor-collector. Senate Bill 1933 gives the secretary of state oversight of those two elected officials if a complaint is filed by certain individuals including a candidate or a county or state political party chair. Both bills are set to take effect on September 1, which is less than two months before the November election in the City of Houston. Harris County officials have filed a lawsuit to try and stop SB 1750 before it takes effect.

Other bills that will affect the Houston area include two by State Sen. John Whitmire. Senate Bill 1057 which would provide extra funding to improve the George R. Brown Convention Center, and Senate Bill 224 which was co-authored by Sen. Whitmire’s fellow Houston Area State Sen. Carol Alvarado, which amends current law to make it easier to catch and prosecute criminals who steal catalytic converters.

Keep watching:

There is still work left to be done by state legislators, especially after Governor Abbott vetoed seventy-six bills, the second-highest total in the history of Texas. The vetoes included bills concerning varying issues and even included Senate Bill 1668, a Texas REALTORS® priority that continued HOA reforms. In many of the vetoes, including Senate Bill 1688 the Governor stated, “This bill can be reconsidered at a future special session only after property tax relief is passed.” Now that it seems a property tax deal has been reached, stay tuned to find out what is next on the legislative horizon in Texas. (as of July 12, 2023)


If you have any questions, comments or concerns about legislation impacting real estate please do not hesitate to reach out to the Governmental Affairs and Advocacy team. We encourage member involvement and welcome feedback.