This article was previously published in the Nov./Dec. 2015 issue of the Austin REALTOR®.
From victories in our nation’s capital to the unprecedented campaign for Prop 1 across the state to the TREPAC fundraising successes here in Austin, 2015 proved to be perhaps the most successful year in REALTOR® Party history.
Shortly after ABoR’s new headquarters opened, volunteer REALTOR® members of the Legislative Management Team (LMT), TREPAC Committee, and Policy Teams met to orient themselves to the changing political landscape of Austin. With the Legislature in session and nine new Council Members and a new Mayor, our volunteers knew it would be a busy year.
Throughout the year, the LMT and Policy Teams have worked hard to stay engaged in the City of Austin. Volunteer REALTOR® members have attended countless meetings at City Hall to speak on behalf of real estate professionals and homeowners when important issues have come up on the Council dais such as, the City of Austin homestead exemption, accessory dwelling units, and the rewrite of the Land Development Code.
In April, more than 80 REALTORS® from Austin joined over 2,000 REALTORS® from all across the state for the Texas Association of REALTORS®’ largest ever Texas Capitol Hill Visits. REALTORS® who attended this year’s Hill Visits met with legislators to discuss policy issues such as property-tax relief, transportation funding, and consumer-friendly reform to the property-appraisal process. REALTORS® were successful on all fronts this Legislative Session.
REALTOR® successes during the Texas Legislative Session led to two very important propositions appearing on the ballot this November: Propositions 1 & 7. Proposition 1 increased the state-mandated homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000 and created a constitutional ban on a tax on the sale of real estate. The passage of Proposition 1 will save most homeowners $125 on an annual basis and ensure that Texas will never be added to the growing list of states which have a transfer tax. TAR launched its largest ever campaign in support of the passage of Prop 1, and due to tremendous REALTOR® support, Proposition 1 passed with 86% of the vote. Proposition 7 created a new stable funding source for transportation in our state, which will be dedicated to construction and maintenance of roads while not raising taxes. TAR also supported Prop 7, and with REALTOR® support it passed with 83% of the vote.
In May, ABoR’s Water & Conservation Policy Team hosted a forum that focused on water and the ongoing drought in Central Texas. Even with the record rains we have seen this year, the drought conditions we have been facing may very well be
the “new normal” for Central Texans, and the Water Forum helped prepare real estate professionals for how to communicate with clients about these ongoing challenges.
In September, the LMT hosted a Voter Forum to educate members about the important propositions they would see on the ballot this past November. Attendees learned about Propositions 1 & 7, and received an update about the County Bond Election from County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty.
All of the successes at the state and local level helped the ABoR TREPAC Committee raise a record setting $396,448. And across the state, REALTORS® raised over $4.2 million for TREPAC. These significant fundraising victories will ensure that ABoR and TAR are on solid footing as we step into the next few years.
So, what’s next? Of course, there will be challenges on the horizon that ABoR and our REALTOR® volunteers will come up against. To meet these challenges, we will continue to step forward each day and advocate on behalf of REALTORS® and homeowners alike. After all, the most important thing we do here is stand up for the place we all call home.
Learn more about ABoR advocacy and how you can get involved today.