Pillow Talk – Advocacy Tip #6 – Know How to Keep Score 

by Perry Pillow, Director of Government Affairs, AATC

Last month, we explored AATC Advocacy Tip #5: Know How to Play the Game. Effective advocacy requires skill, strategy, and savvy. Politics is a rough and tumble, full-contact sport in which the rules and players continuously change. Politicians do not play-nice in the white marble Washington nor red granite Austin sandboxes. Knowing how to play the political game ensures AATC’s advocacy efforts succeed.    

Now that you are actively playing the political game, it is vital that you understand Advocacy Tip #6: Know How to Keep Score. In politics, like life, you win some, you lose some, but, more importantly, you must live to fight another day.    

Advocacy involves small battles that lead to victory. Coffee with a mayor. A property tour with a city council member. A meeting with the code compliance director. Serving on a city board or commission. Hosting a crime watch meeting. Donating to candidates. Running for elected office.    

In Tarrant County, there are government officials, business leaders, ad hoc citizens organizations, single-family homeowner groups, neighborhood associations, and community activists who have not, do not, nor ever will agree with our industry’s point of view. AATC pro-actively engages with these groups to educate them about the industry and to help them better understand our perspective, but we do not waste our time attempting to change their minds.  

Advocacy is not about changing hearts and minds; rather, it is about accumulating votes. Votes are the score. AATC’s advocacy efforts are about securing elected officials to vote on a specific issue on a specific day. Votes matter. Feelings do not. You win when you have a majority of the votes – even if you never have their hearts and minds.       

COVID-19 MASKS REQUIRED UNTIL AUGUST 31st – Face masks are required in all Tarrant County businesses until August 31st. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued the new executive order on July 31st as coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly throughout Texas.   

FEDERAL COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE – The White House, U.S. Senate, and House of Representatives continue to negotiate an additional COVID-19 Recovery/Relief bill prior to the August recess. NAA and a coalition of housing groups are lobbying Congress to express our industry’s strong opposition to the CARES Act federal eviction moratorium extension and our support for rental assistance and legal liability protection for our industry for COVID-19 related issues. President Trump and Speaker Pelosi have expressed support for an extension of the eviction moratorium.  

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.   

FORT WORTH CRIME CONTROL AND PREVENTION DISTRICT – On July 14th, 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.  

ARLINGTON CITY COUNCIL TERM LIMITS – Arlington City Council has appointed a Term Limits Advisory Committee to review the current provisions in the City’s Charter pertaining to city council and mayor term lengths and term limits and work to formulate recommendations on possible changes to such provisions. AATC PAC opposed the ballot initiative implementing term-limits. Chad Bates with Legacy Financial Chairs this committee.

COVID-19 RENT ASSISTANCE – AATC continues to work with the cities of Fort Worth and Arlington, as well as, Tarrant County officials on COVID-19 rental assistance programs. These rental assistance funds are limited and are available to assist with rent payments for renters directly impacted by COVID-19. Rent payments will be made directly to landlords—not the residents. To learn more about these programs, go to https://www.aatcnet.org/coronavirus.html 

PROPERTY TAXES – The most populous counties in Texas are required by state law to provide online access to Truth in Taxation Info that illustrates the impact of municipal tax rates. Tarrant County property owners will be able to access this information beginning August 1st at www.tarranttaxinfo.com 

STATE BUDGET DEFICIT – Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced July 20th that the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices are driving down projected general revenue in the state’s current budget by more than $11 billion; therefore, producing a $4.6 billion state budget deficit.  

TAA 2021 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES – TAA’s Legislative Committee met on July 16th to discuss 2021 legislative session dynamics and discuss industry legislative priorities. TAA government relations staff anticipate a volatile 2021 session due to contentious elections, economic instability; social justice; new house leadership; state budget constraints, and, most importantly, redistricting. TAA anticipates numerous adverse pieces of legislation filed regarding evictions (notice to vacant timeframes, prohibit lockouts & liens; opportunity to cure, etc.); lease terminations (illness, job loss, student, casualty loss, etc.); and leasing/operations (source of income, application of payment, LGBTQ protections, criminal history, fee restrictions, etc.). TAA’s potential affirmative legislation includes city fee transparency, insurance, and property taxes. 

TAA PAC DONATIONS TO TARRANT COUNTY CANDIDATES – TAA PAC trustees approved the following contributions for Tarrant County area state legislators: Nicole Collier, HD 95 (D – Fort Worth) – $1,000; Charlie Geren, HD 99 (R – Fort Worth) – $3,500; Craig Goldman, HD 97 (R – Fort Worth) – $3,500; and Phil King, HD 61 (R – Weatherford) – $1,500. 

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