Every year when the Texas Legislature meets they have dozens, if not hundreds, of proposed laws to sift through, revise, pass, or deny. The 84th meeting of this governing body was no different, with some suggestions that made their way into the books and a few that were shot on sight.

And while in some of these meetings there’s nothing worth noting that gets accomplished, this time was different. The 84th Texas Legislature knocked it out of the park, especially when it comes to real estate, private property rights, keeping taxes down, and insuring that the great State of Texas will continue to be the business-friendly mecca that it has become famous for. And while you can thank your State Reps and Senators for this, please also remember that the following legislative efforts were heavily influenced by your Texas Association of Realtors Political Action Committee (TREPAC).

We have to wait until November to see if Proposition 1 passes, but if it does then Texans will see the following benefits:

Homestead Exemption
Prop 1 allows for the Homestead Exemption to be raised from $15,000 to $25,000, effectively lowering the property tax on your primary residence in Texas.

Property Transfer Tax
Every legislative session there’s some wingnut who thinks it would be a good idea to levy a tax on real estate sales. Like Maryland, where every resident pays 3% of the sales price of their home to the government, we would have a similar fee on home sales. This would prove disastrous to Texas homeowners and the state’s economy in general. Prop 1 includes a change to the state constitution to permanently ban any type of real estate transfer fee or tax forever. A law we can all agree on!

Aside from Prop 1, the following bills were passed that also do great things for you and your neighbors:

Franchise Taxes
HB32 (D. Bonnen): The franchise tax, a superfluous, burdensome tax levied on businesses in Texas has been officially reduced by 25%. I pay this tax on my business and I still have no idea what it’s for or what it’s based on. But, whatever it is, it’s now 25% lower, providing further incentives to business growth in this state.

Harder to Increase Property Taxes
SB1760 (Creighton): That’s right, it’s now more difficult for your county or municipality to increase your property taxes. Instead of a vote being won by a simple majority, any motion for tax increases has to pass by a super-majority (60%). Good to know that any tax increases will have to be supported by solid data and actual need in order to garner enough support for approval.

Protection from Patent Trolls
SB1457 (Nichols): This one is my favorite. There are law firms out there that have been filing bogus lawsuits against Texas businesses because of their use of search engines. No, that’s not a misprint. Your business uses a search engine on their website, all of which is perfectly ok. Now you get hit with a lawsuit from a large, powerful law firm that will drag you through court for years and cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Unless, of course, you settle out of court for a smaller sum. Well we now have laws on the books, essentially telling these swindlers to stay out of Texas. Yee-haw!

Road funding
Several bills were introduced that will redirect billions of needed dollars to fund the construction of new and the maintenance of existing roads. With the unprecedented growth of our state we need to make sure we can get from point A to point B now, in five years, and in 25 years. Our new funding efforts will insure that we pull together and make that happen.

In summary it was a grand slam at the meeting of the 84th Legislature. A big thank-you is owed to your State Reps, State Senators, all the folks at the Texas Association of Realtors, and quite frankly, to your own local area realtors who all contributed to the efforts of TREPAC through the year. Our fundraising efforts provided the needed support to make sure these bills got through. The results speak for themselves.

Michael E. Linnemann