May 09, 2005

I got an email tip over the weekend about HB1167, which is a bill about housing for low-income residents. It's a massive 100+ page bill that's scheduled for a second reading tomorrow, and I'll quote from the bill analysis page to give you a flavor of it:

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) Sunset Bill passed during the 78th Legislative Session, S. B. 264, sought to bring balance back to the state's affordable housing programs primarily through modification of the most important public/private partnership - the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. During the Interim of the 78th Session, The House Committee on Urban Affairs was charged with studying the implementation of S. B. 264 and found that TDHCA had not in fact properly implemented many of the reforms contained in S. B. 264.

Filed primarily to correct the shortcomings in implementation of S. B. 264, C.S.H.B. 1167 provides clarification to the agency to allow it to focus on providing affordable housing and partnering with housing sponsors. C.S.H.B. 1167 also focuses on the allocation processes and the computation of the regional allocation formula to allow for the department to address housing needs across the state without overreaching its authority.

The analysis itself is longer than most of the bills I've blogged about this session. Today's Chron goes into some detail about it.

The bill by Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, would reduce incentives to develop housing affordable for the poorest Texans while generally shifting the agency's focus toward apartments rather than homeownership programs such as Bootstrap and Habitat for Humanity.

It would remove the agency's authority to develop and revise rules for awarding low-income housing tax credits, the largest and most controversial state housing program. The bill would write the rules into law, meaning they could be changed only through legislative action.

The bill has alarmed advocates for the poor and leaders of nonprofit housing development groups, whose role in providing housing to low- and moderate-income Texans will diminish if the measure is signed into law. Almost 100 individuals and organizations signed a letter opposing the bill, and leaders of Houston nonprofits have scheduled a news conference today to denounce it.

Talton's bill "is the single worst housing bill from the standpoint of poor families, fair housing, disabled people and honest government that I have seen in my 28 years working on housing issues," said John Henneberger, co-director of the Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service in Austin.

The TxLIHIS has a list of 93 reasons why HB1167 is bad, in case you want to explore their concerns in more detail.

There's more in the Chron story, so read the whole thing. As much as anything, my concern is that there's three weeks left in this session. We still don't have any agreement on school finance or tax overhaul, and there's still big bills on telecom and HHSC privatization to debate. We've already wasted time debating sexy cheerleading and making gay marriage Double Secret Illegal, and there's sure to be a few more stupid bills like those coming to the floor before all is said and done. Somehow, in the midst of all this, HB1167 is going to come up for a vote (it's already passed out of committee). What are the odds that a majority of the House will fully understand what they're being asked to vote on? Look at the calendar for tomorrow. See how many other bills there are scheduled for a second reading? How much time will there be to actually debate this sucker?

NOTE: This post has been rewritten. I'd put something up before I noticed that there was a Chron story on HB1167 (I missed it during my scan of the paper version; thankfully, the Chron's RSS feed for politics saved me). Checking Google News, I don't see any other stories on this today, so kudos to the Chron for the coverage.

UPDATE: Jim D got the same email I did.

UPDATE: As did PinkDome.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 09, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack