Jim Popp leads Popp Hutcheson’s legislative practice. Unlike many lobbyists at the Texas Legislature, he does not lobby for hire; he lobbies to improve his clients’ property tax practices. Jim has written over 100 amendments to the Texas Property Tax Code that have been passed into law. He also actively works to prevent legislation that would be adverse to his clients’ needs.
Jim takes a collaborative approach to the legislative process. He and his Hilco Partners lobbying team, led by Vilma Luna, join forces with organizations like the Texas Association of Realtors, the Texas Taxpayers & Research Association, and the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association. He also works closely with the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts and meets with chief appraisers throughout the state for legislative discussions.
Jim wrote and lobbied for the current equal and uniform statute, the most taxpayer-friendly legislative change in the history of the Texas Property Tax Code. No single piece of Texas property tax legislation has had an impact quite like this provision since the code was adopted. In addition to this and many other improvements to the system, Jim has been instrumental in achieving:
- Expedited lawsuit settlement procedures: A party to a property tax lawsuit may now request a settlement conference or alternative dispute resolution to be held within 120 days of the request.
- More time for lawsuit decisions: The deadline for filing a lawsuit was changed from 45 to 60 days after the receipt of an ARB order.
- Greater protections from legal minutiae: The court now has jurisdiction over a lawsuit if the property was the subject of an ARB hearing and the lawsuit was timely filed. Previously, many lawsuits were dismissed simply because they were filed under an incorrect owner name.
- Simultaneous exchange of expert reports: Previously, taxpayers were required to submit expert witness reports 30 days before the district’s deadline—a significant disadvantage. Expert reports are now exchanged simultaneously.
- Taxpayer-friendly refund processes: Taxing units are now required to send refunds to the person designated by a plaintiff in a property tax lawsuit, improving the receipt and tracking of refunds.
- Enhanced ARB impartiality: ARBs are now appointed by the local administrative district judge in counties with a population of over 120,000 people. Previously, ARBs were appointed by an appraisal district’s board of directors.
- Increased transparency and consequences for ARB bias or misconduct: ARB oversight was enhanced through: the development of model hearing procedures by the comptroller; the creation of a taxpayer complaint system; and increased duties for appraisal district taxpayer liaison officers. Provisions were added to address the removal of ARB members for bias or misconduct and to require that taxpayers are randomly assigned to ARB panels.