Lege Wrap-Up

Poverty

Lege Wrap-Up
Illustration By Doug Potter


Helter Shelter

And you thought Robert Talton just hated queers. Turns out that the Pasadena Republican doesn't like affordable-housing incentives either. Fortunately, his legislative attempt to eliminate such state-funded programs suffered an 11th-hour massacre on the House floor. Talton, who tried to sell his bill as an "affordable-housing" measure, believes that poor people would be better served in the rental market – an idea supported by for-profit developers but widely disparaged among nonprofit groups. The proposal would have changed the focus of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs from home ownership to apartment leasing. It also would have ended low-income housing credits for developers and eliminated the agency's Bootstrap Self-Help Housing Program. Thanks to a technical error spotted by Dallas Rep. Yvonne Davis, the bill was forced back to committee – too late in the session to salvage. Good riddance, HB 1167.

And hello HB 525! This bill – recently sent to the governor – seeks to give new meaning to the word "affordable" in Austin's housing market. Local Democratic Rep. Eddie Rodriguez filed the legislation to give Texas municipalities a set of new tools for establishing special districts, or nonprofit land trusts, dedicated to helping low-income families achieve home ownership. In the interest of time and to ensure passage of the bill, Rodriguez ultimately narrowed its focus to Austin – specifically East Austin. When the bill came up for consideration in the House Urban Affairs Committee, guess who cast the lone "no" vote? Chairman Talton himself. – Amy Smith


Insuring Discrimination

Insurance companies scored big with the committee death of HB 23, by Rep. Fred Brown, R-College Station, which would have banned the use of credit scoring in determining premium rates. Opponents of credit scoring say the practice is discriminatory against minorities and low- and moderate-income Texans. – Jordan Smith

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