HOA bills and the legislative “system”

I thought it a good time to summarize how your state legislature works. I’ve referred to the need for a champion, which implies, if not opposition, but having to deal with the legislative “system.” And there is a System. I will use Arizona as a model, understanding that other states will vary somewhat. For example, the Texas Legislature meets every 2 years. They do not use Committee of the Whole (COW) as the first Floor vote, but “second read.” California has sessions lasting for 2 years. Check your legislative website for your state’s process.


The System – the power of the majority party

The majority power rules and control the System. The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House determine the committees, what bills are heard where, who the Chair will be, and who are the members.

The committee chair determine whether or not his committee will hear a bill referred to it. I believe he can be overruled by a vote of the members, but that would be like going over the head of your boss, a No-No. At the request of a bill’s sponsor, he can hold the bill until the next meeting because the sponsor doesn’t have the votes. The sponsor can also “give up the ghost” and kill his bill.

Next step may be a Rules committee, a perfunctory committee supposedly passing on constitutionality, but just another place where the Chair can prevent a bill from proceeding to a floor vote.

(The Caucus vote, if passed out of Rules, is a nonbinding “courtesy” discussion meeting of the separate parties.)

Next we have what is called the Calendar, or Calendars for COW and Third Read. They are “ files” under the President’s or Speaker’s control who decide if and when the bill moves to the COW/second read vote. If passed at this point, these leaders can then decide, again, if the bill will proceed to a third read/ final vote of the House or Senate.

If passed out of the first branch, the process starts all over again in the second house.

Your champion must get support of all these players, or not run into serious opposition from the power players. He/she needs your emails and voice sent to the committee members and even to all the legislators if HOA reform bills are to succeed — especially the controversial bills. Over the years I’ve seen bills die at every one of the above stages. I have seen HOA bills held for weeks by the Speaker or President, who finally succumbed to public outcry and allowed the members to vote the issue, all of which passed with flying colors. The System is political, understanding that the majority party members also voted overwhelming to pass the bill.

At this early stage in Arizona, of the 16 HOA bills, 1 was Held, and 1 is sitting in the COW waiting for a floor vote. It had passed the committee by a 5 – 2 vote, but was objected to for a direct floor vote, which does not allow discussion. It has been sitting on the COW calendar for 3 weeks, waiting at the pleasure of the President of the Senate for a Floor vote. The bill would impose treble damages to HOA boards if the court found the lawsuit to be selective in nature against the homeowner. (Is that any worse that the right to take away one’s home for $50 after 1 year?)  Yes, discussion is important, but it must be allowed to occur if the democratic process is to work.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Legislative System.
Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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