On Monday, March 22nd, the 87th Texas Legislature passed the halfway point of the regular session. When we started in January, it seemed that the legislative focus would be on COVID and the state budget with limited time for just a few priority issues beyond this. Both chambers were cautious in approaching the pandemic and adopted rules to balance public access to the building with member’s and staff’s safety. The session’s focus changed dramatically when the winter storm hit Texas in February. By the month’s end, everybody at the capitol talked about ERCOT and the PUC, and the focus of the session shifted to electricity. At the same time, the Governor started to ease restrictions that were implemented to address COVID.
Though there were numerous calls to keep legislation focused on the most pressing issues facing Texas — reliable electricity and pandemic recovery, it is worth noting that when the bill filing deadline hit 60 days into the session, the number filed was not markedly less than any other session, with over 7,000 bills filed.
TADA has a lot of legislative work to do — bills have been filed allowing direct manufacturer sales, limiting dealer access to temp tags, broadening alternatives for titling and registering vehicles, raising the burden of proof for certain lawsuits brought during a pandemic, raising the minimum wage, increasing fees for electric vehicles, limiting access to personal information collected by the state, and requiring quality replacement parts. These are but just a sample of the numerous bills that could impact dealers.
TADA is fortunate to have a dedicated legislative committee working with our great regional partners, lobby team, and legal support to help ensure that any legislation passed does not hurt Texas dealers’ ability to work in their local communities selling and servicing vehicles. Our TADA Board Chair, April Ancira, and Legislative Chair, Bryan Case, have also been actively involved in this work. I know they will do a fantastic job representing TADA and our members when called on to testify.
I continue to be amazed and impressed at the relationships that exist between legislators and their local dealers. Every House and Senate member I have visited with has a personal story about their dealers and the work you do in your communities. These connections are an essential part of our advocacy efforts and help ensure our franchise laws stay strong. Thank you for all you do.
There will be many twists and turns for the remainder of the 2021 regular session and we anticipate several special sessions this year. Please be assured that the TADA team is working diligently on your behalf.