With nearly 12,000 bills introduced and more than 3,600 passed, the 88th Texas Legislature was one of the busiest in state history. TREC’s advocacy efforts, combined with our peers within Real Estate Councils of Texas (RECsTX) and other partners throughout the state, helped deliver some big wins for the commercial real estate industry during the session.

As our public policy team, led by TREC Political Action Committee Chair Scott Rohrman (42 Real Estate) and Public Policy Committee Chair Michael Blackwell (Mill Creek Residential), navigates the first of what is shaping up to be several Special Legislative Sessions, we will continue to advocate for the commercial real estate industry’s best interests.

Here is a breakdown of a few of the more impactful bills we monitored during 88th Texas Legislature:

HB 2071: Regulation of Public Facility Corporations

What It Is: HB 2071 reforms state law authorizing public facility corporations (PFCs), which are arrangements between individuals and local taxing entities wherein the individual provides an agreed-upon level of affordable housing in exchange for a property tax reduction.

Why It Matters: Opponents have used abuses of the program from around the state to push for the elimination of PFCs altogether. This bill represents a compromise that addresses these criticisms while preserving this critical tool to incentivize affordable housing development.

TREC Action and Result: Supported; Sent to Governor

HB 14: Third Party Review

What It Is: This bill streamlines the approval process for development and inspections to avoid unnecessary delays, allowing for certain individuals to review development documents if a regulatory authority has not issued a decision within 15 days of submission.

Why It Matters: Development process delays are extremely costly to developers and represent a massive impediment to economic development in cities like Dallas. By allowing developers more control over their project timelines, this bill helps cities efficiently address backlogs in planning and development departments.

TREC Action and Result: Supported; Sent to Governor

HB 1526: Parkland Dedication Requirement

What It Is: HB 1526 authorizes municipalities of more than 800,000 residents to set parkland dedication/fee/combination requirements, and sets requirements on how the dedication and/or fees must be calculated.

Why It Matters: This bill addresses the housing shortage in rapidly growing cities by limiting the amount of a site plan that must be donated as parkland or the fee-in-lieu for multifamily or hotel projects, which have dramatically risen in some cities in recent years. Additionally, the bill prohibits municipalities from imposing dedication/fee requirements on commercial uses other than multifamily or hotel and exempts municipalities that currently charge “low fees” from the new calculation requirements.

TREC Action and Result: Supported; Sent to Governor

SB 491: Height Compatibility Standards

What It Is: SB 491 would have prohibited a municipality of more than 725,000 residents from adopting or enforcing ordinances that limit building height based on proximity to a lot more than 50 feet from the building. In Dallas, this would have preempted the city’s Residential Proximity Slope (RPS) ordinance, which places limits on a building’s height based on its proximity to a residentially zoned lot.

Why It Matters: Cities have used height compatibility standards to restrict the height that developers can build to by right, which has often restricted density in Texas’ largest and fastest growing metro areas. This bill would have allowed developers to build to height restrictions based on their zoning, and not on how close their site is to a residential lot, while maintaining protections for neighborhoods, proximity to airports, historical areas, and other categories.

TREC Action and Result: Supported; Died on House Calendar

HB 234: Mandatory Sales Price Disclosure for Commercial and Industrial Property

What It Is: HB 234 would have required that the purchaser of any commercial or industrial property record the sale price with its County Clerk’s office. Additionally, the bill would have created a civil penalty for failing to disclose the purchase price in an amount equal to 5 percent of the property’s sale price.

Why It Matters: By requiring sales price disclosure, this bill could have exacerbated the high property tax burden for Texas commercial and industrial property owners.

TREC Action and Result: Opposed; Died in Committee

HB 4757: Regulatory Authority Over Bodies of Water

What It Is: HB 4757 would have prohibited the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from approving a new or amended water right authorizing an appropriation of water from Big Brown Creek or Fairfield Lake without being first approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWC).

Why It Matters: TPWC was a competitor to purchase privately owned property, but when the selling party rejected their non-competitive bid in favor of a full market-value bid from another private entity, TPWC attempted to use the Legislature to torpedo the deal and effectively lower the market value of the property to the point that TPWC would be the only available buyer.This bill would have set a dangerous precedent for the state to interfere in private property transactions for its own benefit, essentially utilizing the extraordinary power of eminent domain without affording any of the due process protections to the injured party statutorily required in the exercise of that power.

TREC Action and Result: Opposed; Died in Committee

These results would not be possible without TREC’s ongoing public policy work and PAC involvement. Our work on this year’s session began in September of 2022, when TREC PAC members began meeting with legislators and candidates seeking local and state office in November’s elections. In February 2023, TREC members joined RECsTX in Austin for Lobby Days and met with legislators to advocate for the commercial real estate industry. We continued this engagement throughout the regular session, and our members worked tirelessly to review bills and support our public policy efforts.

If you have any questions about this year’s Legislative Session, or to become involved in TREC’s Public Policy efforts, please contact Travis Reynolds, at treynolds@recouncil.com.

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