House Bill 3561, affectionately known as the “piñata bill,” passed out of committee yesterday. I was joined by Sergio Lejarazu, owner of the Jumpolin piñata store, who testified that his business was bulldozed earlier this year without notice and despite the fact that he and his wife had two years left on their lease.
Although the courts will ultimately decide on the merits of this case, it has become increasingly clear that the Lejarazu family was wronged, that they were wrongfully evicted and that the owners believed it would be cheaper to toss them out on the street and settle than to allow them to run out the course of their lease.
My legislation will bolster existing safeguards to protect wrongfully evicted tenants like Mr. Lejarazu, allowing them to seek damages tied directly to the market value of the property from which they are evicted. I want property owners to think twice before they wrongfully evict tenants for personal profit.
Strengthening Our Incentive Programs
As many of you know, I stayed busy in the interim in my role as vice chairman of the Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives.
Many of the recommendations that came from the committee report have been incorporated into House Bill 26, which I have joint authored with Rep. Angie Chen Button of Houston, who was the chairwoman of the Select Committee.
Today, HB 26 is expected to be voted out of the House of Representatives. This legislation will strengthen the manner in which we award incentives and report on the progress of the recipients of these funds. I am proud to be a joint author of this bill.
Fighting Bad Environmental Bills
Today, the House will debate House Bill 1865, an anti-environmental bill that would essentially strip away citizens’ rights to contest permits by big polluters. As written, the bill would cut down on the amount of time administrative law judges may consider permit challenges and it would shift the burden of proof onto those raising their concerns with the application. If passed as is, the bill would take away one of the very few avenues for citizen input on these major projects. That is why I intend to introduce two amendments to fix this bad bill. We may be in the House late into the night today, but it is worth the fight.