Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee
Examines Homeowners Associations
The Senate Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Committee convened for the first time in the 77th Interim and heard about some of the problems faced by members of property owners associations (POA). During the 77th Session a bill to limit the powers of POAs to foreclose on property received much attention after reported property takeovers in the Houston area.
Bill Stinson, representing the Texas Association of Realtors, said there needs to be a balance between the rights of the individual members of a community and the community as a whole: "Property owners' associations provide a critical and valuable asset to the communities that they serve...to uphold deed restrictions and rules and regulations that the individuals in that community have agreed on."
The IGR Committee has five charges this session:
- study the appropriateness of foreclosure and other powers granted to property owners' associations
- examine current state law regarding the authority and duties of all special districts, such as county development districts and water supply districts
- study the power of county officials to regulate growth and development in unincorporated areas
- study the availability and delivery of fire prevention and emergency medical servicesacross the state.
Regarding Charge #2, Jeff Thorne and Susan Alexander of the Texas Legislative Council briefed the members on what types of special districts the state authorizes and the powers they have.
On Charge #3, Donald Lee of the Conference of Urban Counties and Shanna Igo of the Texas Municipal League told the committee that counties need many of the same powers that Texas cities already have.
On Charge #4 Ken Bailey from the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, Ken Campbell of the State Association of Fire and Emergency Districts, and Kathy Perkins of the Bureau of Emergency Management at the Texas Department of Health, spoke on Emergency Medical Services across the state. Perkins called EMS across Texas a "patchwork quilt", saying services vary greatly across the state. Bailey told the committee that firefighters are the first people on the scene of any emergency and Campbell said that the number of volunteer firefighters is decreasing, because fewer and fewer people work in the local fire district and are not available as volunteers.
The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee is chaired by Senator Frank Madla of San Antonio. The Vice-chair is Senator Jon Lindsay of Houston, with Senators David Cain of Dallas, Florence Shapiro of Plano, Todd Staples of Palestine, Royce West of Dallas, and John Whitmire of Houston as members.
There will be a subcommittee examining Charge #1 with Senator Lindsay as chairman and Senators West and Whitmire as members.
The committee is expected to have one meeting outside of the Capitol, either in Houston or Dallas, in coming months. The committee adjourned subject to the call of the chair.