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Texas Self-Storage Lien Bill Clearing Final Hurdles

May 16, 2011

by Ginny Sutton, TSSA Executive Director

“The road is long, with many a winding turn…”  TSSA’s legislative role for virtually all of the organization's 25 years has been as watchdog.  Connie Heyer, of Niemann and Heyer, LLP, routinely monitors all bills filed if they have potential impact on self-storage operators, working at the Capitol with bill authors when amendments are needed. She also alerts TSSA’s Board when members must be rallied to contact their representatives to help prevent onerous bills from becoming law. 

This year, TSSA took on a more active legislative role by seeking out a bill sponsor to attempt to modernize the self-storage lien statutes.  Senator John Carona introduced the bill in the Senate as SB 690, and State Representative Sid Miller introduced an identical bill in the House as HB 1259. 

On Friday, the House unanimously passed SB 690, and we anticipate the Senate giving the final okay to the amended version of the bill any moment.  For all practical purposes, all that’s left is the governor’s signature for this bill to become law, effective January 1. 
 

 

So far, the 82nd Texas Legislature has met for about four months.  Because the TSSA Legislative Committee and our lobbyists strategized so well, the process has been a relatively smooth one for us.  The one stumbling block occurred early on when the newspaper lobby came out in force at the Senate public hearing and the part of the bill that would have eliminated newspaper advertising was struck.

Summary of the changes this bill will make to current self-storage lien statutes: 

 

  • Use of either verified mail or e-mail provided by the tenant (instead of the currently required certified mail) to send the foreclosure seizure/claim notice
  • Specific notice to military customers asking them to identify themselves as active duty
  • Special foreclosure processes for vehicles and boats moved into Chapter 59 instead of a separate section of the property code subject to changes intended for mechanics liens.  This also eliminates the current 5-day notice requirement for lienholder notification on vehicles.  Lienholders and registered owners will still have to be notified, but not within the current window of five days after seizure.

 

So, there is definitely success to be claimed, and joy in doing something that helps members save money as they run their businesses more efficiently.

One thing I found so interesting is how long the process took for an innocuous and noncontroversial bill that, truly, no one except self-storage operators should have cared about.  It’s not that there was opposition after the newspaper changes took place, but during this particular legislative session, there was so much bi-partisan contention and so many controversial bills filed, things became quite backed up.  The number of bills surviving the entire process has been very small indeed.

One of the last obstacles was simply having the bill set by the House Calendars Committee to be heard by the House.  In other words, a bill can make its way through the process of committees, only to fall away if not set by the Calendars Committee at the end to be heard (and sometimes debated) by the full House. TSSA reached out to TSSA members in the districts represented by the 15 committee members for advocacy, and they did not disappoint!  Members called and faxed letters at a critical moment, and the next thing we heard, the bill was scheduled.  A true example of grassroots activity working, that activity cemented months of effort that came down to one pivotal moment.  While other bills fell by the wayside, this bill moved forward so that House members could give it approval.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in advancing this cause—those who served on the Legislative Committee, members who testified at hearings, all the many members who called and wrote their senators and representatives, and of course, the TSSA Board of Directors for committing to this effort in the first place.

 

 

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