This morning the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee voted to recommend passage of SB 267, a bill that prevents Texas cities from enacting amendments to local fair housing laws to protect renters from discrimination by landlords based on their lawful source of income.
The vote was 7-1 with Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) voting no.
The bill was amended by Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) on a vote of 5-3 with Senators Eltife (R-Tyler), Seliger (R-Amarillo), Whitmier (D-Houston) and Ellis joining Watson. Senators Creighton (R-Beaumont), Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and Huffines (R-Dallas) voted against the Watson amendment.
Explaining the amendment Senator Watson said, “this amendment makes one very simple change to the bill as introduced. It exempts ordnances and regulations that were adopted before January 1, 2015. The justification for this amendment is pretty simple and that is the Texas Constitution provides in part that the Legislature shall not pass any local or special law regulating the affairs of counties, cities, towns, wards or schools. Although Senate Bill 267 may appear to be a statewide bill on its face, its clear the bill is specifically targeted and there was only one city that had in place an ordnance already. The Legislature should not restrict cities that have already gone through a process and passed and ordnance. If it wants to have a statewide policy on this, then it can pass a statewide policy prospectively but it should not retroactively punish or overrule or become and appellate court for a local jurisdiction that has already passed it. So what this would say is that any ordnance that had been passed as of January 1, 2015 would be grandfathered.”