The 85th Session of the Texas Legislative adjourned May 29, 2017. There were several successes for the retail real estate industry.
ADA Reform Passed – The biggest success for ICSC this session was passage of HB 1463 by Representative John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), requiring property owners to be notified of potential Americans Disability Act (ADA) violations and be given a right to cure. It passed the House and Senate and has been sent to Governor Greg Abbott. The governor has until June 18 to sign, veto, or let bills become law without his signature. ICSC Texas Government Relations Co-Chairs Kim Carmack and Tracy Bratton sent a letter to the governor urging him to sign HB 1463.
Other important bills that passed include:
- Prohibiting local entities from adopting an ordinance or other measure that imposes a fee or other charge on new construction for the purpose of offsetting the cost or rent of any unit of residential housing – linkage fees (HB 1449).
- Requiring a municipality that imposes a tree mitigation fee for tree removal that is necessary for development or construction on a person’s property to allow that person to apply for a credit for tree planting to offset the amount of the fee (SB 744).
The success of the commercial real estate industry can also be measured by the issues that did not pass. The commercial real estate industry was successful in defeating bills/amendments that would have:
- Eliminated statutory retainage in construction contracts exposing land owners to additional liability (HB’s 2668 and 3065 and SB’s 1506 and 2073);
- Mandated real estate sales price disclosure (HB 379);
- Provided that a business owner that prohibits gun license holders from bringing a gun onto the business’ property would be liable for damages that could have been prevented by otherwise lawful use of a handgun (HB’s 447 and 556);
- Eliminated economic development incentive programs (SB’s 100 and 393); and
- Repealed authorizations for governing bodies to conduct economic development negotiations in closed meetings (SB 388).
There were some disappointments:
- Legislation requiring out-of-state retailers to either collect and remit sales taxes on purchases made by Texas customers or report to the comptroller their Texas customers who may owe use taxes - failed to pass (HB 3875/SB 1713); and
- Legislation reducing or eliminating the ad valorem tax penalty assessed when open-space land is converted for development - did not pass (HB’s 320, 801, 1211, 1662, 1880, 2314; and SB 629).