Bills propose to shut down regulations on short-term rental companies such as Airbnb

Texas lawmakers are trying again to supersede regulations for short-term home rentals passed in recent years by cities such as Austin.

Austin has one of the oldest and most obstructive short-term rental laws in the state. The city plans to eliminate certain types of short-term rentals altogether and impose limits on how many short-term rentals are allowed in certain residential areas. Austin developed new rules after residents filed numerous complaints rental properties adversely affecting the neighborhoods. Other homeowners argued they should be able to rent their properties if they choose.

In the past, the Texas Supreme Court sided with short-term renters, delivering a win to Texas homeowners who sought to take advantage of websites like Airbnb and HomeAway. One property owner, Kenneth Tarr, who leased his home to short-term renters argued that he was in compliance with the homeowner association’s definition of utilizing his property for residential purposes only.

When a renter stays at the property, they are essentially doing the same thing someone would be doing in their own home: eating, sleeping and entertaining themselves. However, the homeowner’s association argued that Tarr’s property was being operated similar to a hotel and not a home which is for commercial and not residential use.  The judge ruled in Tarr’s favor and stated that he was not in violation as long as the property was being utilized for residential purposes.

Texas lawmakers are making a second run at shutting down the short-term rental restrictions of Austin and other cities after previous bills SB 451 and companion bill HB 2551 did not pass during the last legislative session. They through the Senate but did not make it through committee in the House.

State Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), and State Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson), have filed bills this session. House Bill 3778 and Senate Bill 1888 would restrict cities from prohibiting or limiting short-term rentals. Regulations regarding noise and parking would be enforced and cities would collect a fee to allow for short-term rentals.  The bills would not prevent condos, co-ops or homeowners’ associations from restricting short-term rentals.

Senate Committee to Hear Bill on Public Education Funding

House Bill 3, the vehicle for school finance reform and public education funding, is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, April 25, per sources in the Capitol.

HB 3 cleared the House two weeks ago. Senate consideration was postponed in order for Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to first pass SB2, their property tax reform plan, in the Senate.

At stake for Texas taxpayers is increased funding for programs essential to the 5.4 million children in Texas public schools, ranging from early childhood education, special education funding, to providing better wages for teachers to meet the rising costs of living and health insurance.

With six weeks left in the legislative session, pressure is ramping up on lawmakers to pass school finance reform. Texas taxpayers must remain vigilant and engaged to ensure lawmakers properly fund public education for all of Texas’ students.

Call your Senator, tell them not to bend to political pressure, and support increased funding for public education.

Hurricane Harvey destroyed every apartment in Rockport, Texas. Some residents are still waiting for help from lawmakers.

Hurricane Harvey, which caused more than $125 billion in damage, is the most expensive storm in Texas history. It wreaked havoc on nearly every Gulf Coast community when it came ashore Aug. 25, 2017.

The devastating winds and rain destroyed every multifamily development in Rockport. And without affordable housing, the town has struggled to find contract labor to rebuild. The people there are hoping the state helps by providing the matching dollars needed to pull down federal recovery funds.

This is the first time state lawmakers have met since Harvey made landfall. At the time, some legislators thought Gov. Greg Abbott would call them back for a special session. But Abbott told reporters then that a special session wouldn’t be necessary, noting that the state had enough resources to “address the needs between now and the next session.”

Abbott declared disaster response an emergency item near the start of the 86th Texas Legislature, which allowed lawmakers to take up such measures sooner.

In the latest episode of our mini-documentary series, “Under the Dome,” we look at the recovery efforts in Rockport and the legislative work being done to provide an assist.

This story originally appeared on the Texas Tribune. To read this article in its original format, click here.