We have been on a wild ride these last 12 months, haven’t we? It’s incredible to think that just a year ago we barely knew what COVID-19 was and now the precautions we all take in our personal and professional lives have become almost second nature. While our world and the way we do business has changed, how we advocate for you has not.
Local Advocacy Wins & Updates
When I say that the advocacy team has been working harder than ever, I mean it. Even through the pandemic, we’ve had more advocacy wins than ever before. Over the last year, your ABoR Advocacy team has accomplished the following tasks on your behalf:
- Successfully secured real estate as an essential service on day one, when local Stay at Home orders were put in place.
- Stood up for housing providers and called for increased rental assistance and relief programs for small landlords.
- Mobilized our members in Pflugerville to ensure the adopted property tax rate was within the guidelines set by SB2.
- Ensured that existing and future single-family homes would be exempted from the City of Austin’s Street Impact Fee.
At the same time, we also worked hard to deliver relevant programming and new opportunities for you to stay informed and advocate for your community, including:
- Bringing in the experts to discuss need-to-know topics, such as the CARES Act and local rental issues.
- Launching a new candidate interview process, which allowed more members to be involved in the candidate vetting process and, for the first time ever, watch a livestream of the interviews from the convenience of their home or office.
- Reimagining our Public Policy Principles (ABoR.com/PublicPolicyPrinciples) from top to bottom to focus on housing, strategic land use, and business issues and practices. These new priorities ensure that we remain laser-focused on the issues that directly impact you and your business day to day.
- Realigning our Policy Teams to mirror our new Public Policy Principles and shifting programming so that Policy Teams are a place where you can become an expert.
As a result of these efforts, ABoR was awarded the Mark Lehman Governmental Affairs Achievement Award by Texas REALTORS®. This award recognizes the local REALTOR® association that has demonstrated excellence in fundraising, grassroots involvement, and other local initiatives for the year.
Advocacy in the 87th Texas Legislative Session
Advocacy doesn’t just happen at the local level, of course. This year is a session year, so the staff at Texas REALTORS® has been hard at work monitoring over 2,500 bills that may impact our profession and the business environment in Texas. The issues we’re tracking include changes to homeowners’ associations, broadband access, and civil liability reform.
The Texas Legislative Session is also an opportunity to build relationships with state leaders. Our profession is lucky to have TREPAC, one of the strongest PACs in the state that works to maintain our relationships with lawmakers in the Capitol year-round. During Session years, though, ABoR members have the opportunity to meet directly with their legislators at REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol.
This year, ABoR members were able to meet with 10 legislators virtually throughout the month. I hope you were able to join us. Several ABoR members had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Celia Israel to discuss some important bills currently making their way through committees. As a REALTOR® herself, it’s exciting to know that Rep. Israel knows the importance of good advocacy and will be taking our conversation into account as she takes key votes in the coming weeks.
It’s not too late to get engaged with statewide advocacy initiatives. I strongly encourage you to sign up for Texas REALTORS®’ weekly Legislative Liaison email newsletter at TexasRealEstate.com/Liaison.
Next Month: May Elections & NAR Legislative Meetings
On May 1, voters in Austin will have the opportunity to make their voice heard on eight different ballot measures. Those ballot initiatives could impact our city long-term, so you’ll definitely want to be informed before you head to the ballot box. Visit ABoR.com/Vote to find REALTOR® Voting Resources.
In May, NAR will once again be hosting its Legislative Meetings virtually. Those meetings are an opportunity for REALTORS® from across the country to come together and meet with their Members of Congress. I’m already registered and hope you’ll join me in speaking up for Central Texas REALTORS®, homeowners, and renters by visiting Legislative.REALTOR to get signed up.
As you can see, we’ve had a banner year in advocacy and we’re not slowing down any time soon. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and excited about what’s to come. To join me in these efforts, email ABoR’s Advocacy team at email@example.com and they will make sure you’re in the know.