How legislative Rules committees abort democratic HOA reform bills

In the interest of public education on the functioning of state legislatures, this paper presents information on the rules governing state legislatures — using Arizona as a representative example — that affect passing bills into law.  I focus on the Rules committee’s powers to obstruct the voice of the people, and how it can prevent — kill — HOA reform bills by the actions of the political party leaders.

The powers of the Rules committee are undemocratic and authoritarian  in nature designed to thwart, apparently, the folly of the voice of the people.  We see the same undemocratic, authoritarian powers granted to HOA boards to an even greater extent,  The national lobbying group’s promotion of the “business judgment rule,” and acceptance by the courts, is a prime example.[1]

Exhibit 1 details the Rules powers that can prevent HOA reform bills, and any other bill not liked by the powers that be, from a hearing and vote by the full chamber — by the people’s representatives. As I wrote earlier[2], Arizona’s HB 2052, a bill that has in reality been killed in the Rules committee after unanimous approval by the House and Senate government committees, is a prime example of this misuse of authority.

The Senate Fact Sheet “intro” paragraph misrepresents the content of the bill:

“Expands statutory restrictions on condominium unit owners’ association and planned community association (HOA) regulation of political signs to include signs related to certain community activity. Prohibits an HOA from prohibiting door-to-door community activity”.

Of the 8 listed “Provisions,” 2 are technical, 2 relate to political signs, and 4 — given a short sentence in the “intro” —  expand on HOA restrictions and prohibition’s protecting free political speech and expression, in the HOA public forum,[3] as curtained in my earlier “Senate Protects” posting.[4]

. . . .

The Arizona Legislature, and each and every state legislature, is  not a sovereign that can do no wrong, but has duties and obligations sworn to under oath “to establish justice . . . and secure the blessings of liberty” for the people of its state. It cannot demand respect but must earn it through good deeds.  Passing HB 2052 into law would be a sign of good faith that would earn the respect of the people.

Exhibit 1.  Arizona Legislative Council publications

“In the Senate, bills are usually not “held” in the Rules Committee for partisan or political purposes; bills which go into the Rules Committee are almost always reported out. In the House, the Chairman of the Rules Committee can “hold” (read “kill”) a bill simply by not giving it a hearing. (p. 52).

“The options of the committee chairman are a) Hear the bill and vote on it, b) Hear the bill but take no action, c) Assign the bill to subcommittee, d) Not hear the bill.  (p. 39-40).”

“The Role of the Rules Committee,”  State Senator Randall Gnant, From Idea to Bill to Law (2000). (As of April 2021).

“Each measure is assigned to the Rules Committee of the house through which it is progressing . . . . The Rules Committees assess the constitutionality of the proposed legislation. Unless they are withdrawn or discharged, all bills must pass the Rules Committee before they are heard on the floor. (p.41-42).

“An Active Calendar of the Committee of the Whole (so called in both houses) consisting of bills the Speaker or President selects for consideration by the respective Committee of the Whole (COW).

“A calendar consisting of all bills and other measures that have been reported from the committees. In the House this is called the “House Calendar.”  In the Senate it is called the “Calendar of the Committee of the Whole.” These calendars are simply a list of bills and other measures that are ready for further action by the full chamber.” (p.42-43).

Arizona Legislative Manual 2003 Edition, Arizona Legislative Council (2003). (As of April 2021).

Notes


[1] See, Reorienting the HOA board: business judgment rule (2020).

[2] See, AZ Senate protects HOA misconduct rejecting HB 2052; Arizona HB 2052 restores homeowner constitutional speech protections.

[3] See court holdings: Calif. holds HOA elections as protected free speech public elections (2019); NV supreme court upholds HOAs as public forums (2021).

[4] Supra n. 2, AZ Senate Protects.

Substantive HOA member rights advances in Arizona

A big step forward for HOA homeowners in AZ, that restores lost constitutional rights, as the Senate GOV committee passed the bill, HB 2052, in a 7-0 vote with 1 no-vote.  On its way to a full Senate vote and then Final vote.

It should also be seen by HOA BODs as treating their members as first-class citizens.  It follows in the footsteps of California’s SB 323 —  passed into law in 2019 — and several court opinions upholding HOAs are public forums that provide free public speech on governing matters.

Read the summary carefully for it spells out your rights to be heard on an equal basis to the BOD’s actions and views. FACT SHEET FOR H.B. 2052.  Here are some important excerpts:

“Prohibits an HOA from prohibiting door-to-door community activity on property normally open to visitors within an HOA.

Prohibits an HOA from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting an owner’s ability to peacefully assemble and use private or common elements of the community, if done in compliance with reasonable restrictions for the property adopted by the HOA’s board of directors.

“Allows an owner or group of owners to organize to discuss or address condominium or planned community business, including a) HOA board of directors elections or recalls; b) potential or actual ballot issues or revisions to the HOA documents . . .  or d) any other community business or action.  

“Allows an owner to invite a political candidate or other non-owner guest to speak to an assembly of owners.”

Now of course, your BOD will turn to its legal advisors to get an opinion.  If you’ve read my commentaries here you got a good idea of what many of the national lobbying member attorneys will probably telling your BOD.  Under the bill, when it becomes law, members will have a better chance to challenge BOD decisions and get to the facts of who really runs your BOD.  You might say, the bill will Make HOAs Great Again!

CAI Manifesto – white paper

{Originally published in 2016].

This CAI ‘white paper’ cements the position that CAI is the sole competent voice for HOA matters. For those who took the time to read all four of these papers, [note 1] what should stand out is the absence of any discussion of HOAs as de facto private governments, as de facto political entities, or as quasi or mini governments both of which imply a political entity.  The reason why the authors of these papers, the elitist would be Philosopher Kings, cannot address the question of violations of the Constitution is that they would be “Defending the Indefensible.”

So, as expected of politically motivated actors, ignoring the controversy makes it go away, especially when there’s only one voice of any merit and strength.  Facts that are inconsistent with the views of CAI are dogmatically dismissed and ignored. And to this end CAI has been very successful with respect to state legislatures and the cooperating media.

“For more than 40 years, CAI has educated, advocated, published and informed people living and working in common-interest communities. Thanks to those ongoing efforts, we have a strong and valuable understanding of community associations today.[note 2]

CAI will use these papers to further indoctrinate the legislators, the media and the public that CAI is the only competent, informed, knowledgeable, educational and credentialed organization with 40 years’ experience to conduct HOA affairs and to deal with HOA issues.  “Homeowner rights advocates” are ignored and dismissed as an opposition movement.  Instead, following the lead of Arizona Rep. Ugenti who in 2013 made the following statement to the Arizona Government Committee:

Ugenti stated that each year there was “a plethora of personal HOA legislation” and tried “to spare the [committee] members the constant agony of many personal pieces of HOA legislation,” as contrasted to the industry legislation. (See video of Ugenti speech here https://youtu.be/REt_TJD-6UQ).

CAI speaks only of “individual constituents” and “isolate incidents” that do not measure up to a policy that the legislature could act on[note 3] (my emphasis):

“Lawmakers have been, and will continue to be, called upon to address concerns expressed by individual constituents who share an isolated incident that has made them unhappy with their community associations. In an effort to help constituents, lawmakers may introduce legislation addressing association governance that may increase and undermine the well-established and proven model of community association governance.

“This trend is expected to continue as long as a legislative response is considered necessary to respond to negative perceptions produced by media out of lone circumstances. Legislative responses to individual constituents contribute to community associations being perceived as over-restrictive micro-governments focused on covenant enforcement. This perception may accelerate legislative efforts aimed at greater oversight of community association governance and require greater transparency.”

They make an accurate assessment of conditions. This failure to present a unified national voice backed by credential authorities will continue to persist into the future.  If you stop CAI Central, you destroy all local CAI state chapters’ reason for being. They become just another self-serving special interest.

These papers also contain CAI attempts to influence other dominant organizations like AARP and NAR (National Assoc. of Realtors).[note 4]  Furthermore, CAI calls for not only influencing legislatures, but the judges, too.[note 5]

References


[1] Links to these papers can be found on the CAI web page, Community Next: 2020 and Beyond(May 5, 2016).

[2] Id

[3] Supra, public policy link, p. 6.

[4] Supra. n. 1, external influences link, p. 4-5.

[5] Id, p. 13-14.

HOA Reformers needed to educate

 [Selected commentaries are available as audio podcasts on SPOTIFY and GOOGLE PODCASTS. ]

HOA Reformers are needed as educators to spread the facts about HOA-Land to the public in general; especially to the legislators, the media, the HOA boards, and to the universities and high schools.

As HOA Reformers we must look past our mindset that placates our wants, needs, and fears. Wrongs must be righted; one nation undivided under the Constitution must be upheld. We must step out of the cave with its shadow reality and into the light {Plato allegory) to discover the realities of the HOA-Land culture. It is not an easy task to reject longtime beliefs but one that must be taken.

My Plan Toward Restoring the HOA Model of Governance  called for both a systemic restructuring of the HOA legal scheme and the need to reorient the BODs and legislators. (View at https://tinyurl.com/sr27yq3). The long ignored and inexcusable questions of constitutionality that continue to harm members and the greater communities across this country must be exposed, understood, and accepted.

The Plan first requires addressing the attitudes and views of BODs, the members, and the public in general.  The conditioning and indoctrination by the biased views of the national pro-HOA special interest entity must be de-conditioned by a program of reorientation.  The commonly found guidelines of the  special-interest, pro-HOA lobbyist speak to an authoritarian government with member interests and concerns being secondary to the survival of the association. It’s an unacceptable deviation from the intents and purposes of our constitutional government.

Listen to Commentaries on Spotify audio

Announcing selective commentaries are now available as audio podcasts of Spotify – must signup for free account.  You can also listen on other podcasters – see below. Files range from 3 minutes to 15 minutes.

Just click on the Spotify button on the commentary page or add the RSS feed to your email browser under RSS Feeds. On the the commentary page, click on “Podcasts” in the left column or enter Podcasts under Search in the right column.

Here’s the link to use: https://anchor.fm/s/4e14861c/podcast/rss

Other Podcasters are available if you have an account. Go to Anchor website and choose Podcaster. You will probably need an account.

ANCHOR main — HOA Constitutional Government • A podcast on Anchor  — ALL episodes and podcasters. Select under “Where to Listen.”

Spotify is available on your cell or tablet. Download the app and skip all the advertising and promotions nonsense, and click on “search” bottom at the bottom. In the Search box enter HOA constitutional government.