Pillow Talk: Advocacy Tip #5 – Know How to Play the Game

Last month, we explored AATC Advocacy Tip #4:  Know How to Communicate. Regularly touching base through phone calls, text messages, following them on social media, emails, handwritten notes, etc. strengthens the bonds between you and elected officials. Like you and me, politicians appreciate a note on special occasions:  birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, promotions, etc.  Lately, elected officials at all levels of governments and across the political spectrum are under a lot of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice reform movement.  A quick text that shows you appreciate their leadership will have a long-term positive impact.

As a multifamily housing industry advocate, your goal is to find a connection point, something (or someone) that personally connects you to elected officials. That way, when you meet with them, it is a conversation between friends. Bottom line:  communicate, communicate, and communicate.

Now that you are Facebook friends with the entire Tarrant County congressional delegation, you must master Advocacy Tip #5:  Know How to Play the Game.

Remember when you were a kid, and your friends were playing games, and as soon as your best friend began to lose, they changed the rules? I am still not over Scotty Gammill saying my homerun did not count because it rolled under the fence and not over it!  Seriously, those childhood experiences (Scotty was so wrong) prepared you and me for the rough and tumble, sharp-elbows, fever-changing world of politics.

To play the political game, you need to have basic knowledge of how proposals become laws and ordinances.  In Washington, Austin, and cities throughout Tarrant County, most proposed legislation begins with committee consideration. Legislation is cussed and discussed, amended, ignored, expanded, and explored in committees.

Next, the entire legislative body votes on items that make it out of committee.  Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” is a fun way to review the federal legislative process. In Washington, legislation must pass both the House of Representatives and Senate and then be signed by the President to become a law. Similarly, state laws must pass both the Texas House and Senate, and the Governor has to sign them. With rare exceptions, city proposals merely need a majority vote of the city council to become ordinances.

Local, state and federal government departments implement the laws.  If you have ever had a rogue code compliance inspector, then you know that bureaucrats can interpret or create rules and regulations that are not part of the original ordinance or law.

AATC members have opportunities to impact legislation and regulation at each step in the process.  From testifying in committee to meeting with elected officials, know the right time and place to interject our perspective into the legislative process is critical.

It is not enough to know the process—you must also be aware of the politics. Few laws and city ordinances are enacted or defeated purely based on the merits of the legislation. Slights, backroom deals, outside political pressures, pettiness, power, revenge, political survival, etc. often dictate the outcome. Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright once told me he never kept a list of his enemies—but he did keep a list of his friends.

AATC members will see this political drama play out locally this summer as cities grapple with tax rates, budget cuts, and more so, during the upcoming 2021 Texas Legislature Session as redistricting overshadows every aspect of the legislative process.

Knowing that the rules of the political game are everchanging (Scotty would love it) and our industry is impacted by politicians’ whims and capriciousness to ensure that our advocacy efforts succeed.

July 14th Run-off Election Results

AATC did not endorse or support any candidates or ballot initiatives in the July 14th run-off election’s elections; however, the results were very positive for our industry.

Fort Worth voters reauthorized through 2030 the half-cent sales tax to fund the Crime Control and Prevention District.  The safety of our employees, residents, and properties are important to AATC members.  This fund helps to continue efforts to reduce crime throughout Fort Worth.

In the Republican run-off for Texas House District 60 (Granbury, Palo Pinto County, etc.), Glenn Rogers defeated Empower Texas candidate Jon Francis.  AATC and TAA staff have met with Rogers.  TAA PAC will support Rogers in November.

In the Democrat run-off for U.S. Senate, MJ Hegar defeated Dallas–area State Senator Royce West.  Hegar will face AATC friend and NAA PAC supported Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn in November.

In the Democrat run-off for US House District 24, Candance Valenzuela defeated Kim Olson.  Valenzuela will face AATC and NAA PAC supported Republican candidate Beth Van Duyne in November.

AATC expects Van Duyne, Cornyn, & Rogers to win in November.

COVID-19 MASKS REQUIRED UNTIL AUGUST 3RD

Face masks are required in all Tarrant County businesses until August 3rd. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued the new executive order on June 26th as coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly throughout Texas.

GRAND PRAIRIE EVICTION DELAY DEFEATED

AATC partnered with AAGD to defeat a proposal that would have required Grand Prairie apartment owners/operators to give renters a twenty-one-day notice of proposed intent to evict (modeled on the City of Dallas ordinance) before issuing a notice to vacate for non-payment of rent for COVID-19 impacted renters. AATC members own/operate more than 9,000 units in Grand Prairie. As of July 1st, more than 575 eviction cases were pending in Tarrant County Justice of the Peace courts.

ADVOCACY TEAMS

Our Advocacy Teams are hard at work on your behalf in cities throughout Tarrant County. Advocacy team members meet and vet candidates for public office. This personal engagement enhances AATC’s GAC & PAC trustees’ candidate evaluation process. Advocacy teams host property tours, attend city council meetings, and engage in local issues that affect our industry. If you live, own, or operate properties in Arlington, Bedford, Burleson, Euless, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Haltom City, Hurst, Mansfield, North Richland Hills, our Advocacy Teams need you. If you know elected or government officials, our Advocacy Teams, need you. If you would like to be on an advocacy team, contact Perry Pillow at ppillow@aatcnet.org or (817) 616-0354.

2020 MAY 2ND MUNICIPAL ELECTION MOVED

Due to COVID-19, numerous Tarrant County cities (including Arlington) are moving their May 2nd municipal elections to November 3rd. Mayors and council members impacted by this move will serve until November. Municipal candidates’ names will appear at the bottom of the November ballot. This move will most likely diminish the vote for local government candidates and potentially inject partisanship into non-partisan municipal elections. Local candidates will struggle to get their names and issues heard in a presidential election.

Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at ppillow@aatcnet.org or call 817-616-0354.