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Anti-linkage fee bill wins final passage

Monday, May 22, 2017 by Jo Clifton

House Bill 1449, which prohibits cities, such as Austin, from enacting “linkage fees” on builders to finance affordable housing, won final passage in the Texas House of Representatives on Saturday. The Texas Senate approved the bill with some minor amendments on Thursday, and the House adopted those amendments on Saturday. The bill leaves intact Austin’s current density bonus program, which allows builders to pay a fee to the political subdivision in exchange for exceeding standard height and square footage regulations. Under the bill, cities would still be able to exchange greater density on commercial and multifamily structures for affordable housing money, but they may not be able to adopt any new affordable housing fees. Builders came out in force to testify in favor of the bill by state Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton). Austin Sen. Kirk Watson and state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), who represents part of Austin, voted against the bill in the Senate. When the bill came through the House initially, all of Austin’s Democratic representatives voted against it, but Austin Republican Rep. Paul Workman voted in favor. When the bill came back to the House on Saturday, only state Reps. Gina Hinojosa and Eddie Rodriguez voted no. State Rep. Dawnna Dukes was absent, but state Reps. Donna Howard and Celia Israel agreed to the amendments. The bill will next go to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.

This whisper has been corrected. It originally stated that the bill concerns impact fees when, in fact, it would affect cities’ ability to impose linkage fees.

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