Senator Royce West prefiles legislation for 82nd Session
Bills focus on empowering homeowners; protection from predatory lending
DALLAS — State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) filed 11 pieces of legislation today, the first day to file bills for the upcoming 82nd session of the Texas Legislature. Among them is Senate Bill 142 that addresses homeowners' associations. It is a reprise of legislation that came up one vote short of final passage in 2009.
"Many Texans consider living in residential communities overseen by homeowners' associations (HOAs) as a plus. They feel that it enhances the value of their property," said Senator West. "But as the HOA industry has expanded, overzealous and unreasonable enforcement of deed restrictions has occurred. Now, many HOA residents feel powerless when they attempt to negotiate with HOA boards, management companies, and attorneys about purported violations and associated fines, which can ultimately lead to foreclosure.
"SB142 attempts to curb the worst abuses in the HOA industry, and return to residents the ability to participate in their own communities' governance," said Senator West.
Senate Bill 143 looks to reign in the proliferation of payday loan companies in certain neighborhoods. The bill will also bring interest rates charged by payday lenders back in line with state lending practices.
"The number of payday lenders operating in the state has nearly tripled since 2006 (from 1,270 to 3,594)," said Senator West. "This, of course, is indicative of the recent economic downturn from which the country is slowly recovering. While I recognize the need to make credit available to working people, these payday lenders and car title companies - that charge interest rates as high as 500 percent in some cases - are taking advantage of people when they're down.
"By closing a loophole in existing law, SB143 should help people get credit in a pinch without falling into an endless cycle of debt from which they cannot recover," Senator West added.
In other legislation filed today by Senator West, SB167 authorizes the state to represent a person who has been exonerated of a wrongful conviction in having the records of that offense expunged. And SB148 prohibits municipal utility districts from using the power of eminent domain outside of their boundaries.
"Between redistricting and the $25 billion dollar state budget deficit, it's going to be a difficult session," Senator West concluded. "But there should still be plenty of opportunities to do good work that will move Texas forward, and I think these bills are a good start."