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Home    Education    Legislative    Publications    Calendar    Sunbelt Builders Show    Resources Jan. 8, 2013

TAB News Briefs
Jan. 8, 2013
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Texas Legislature opens 2013 session
The Associated Press via Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Texas Legislature starts another session Tuesday with 140 days to figure out how to pay for public schools after slashing $5.4 billion from classrooms in 2011, whether unemployment recipients should be drug-tested and perhaps finally confront a mounting water crisis under the strain of a rapidly growing population. And that's just to name a few problems. More

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs releases biennial revenue estimate
Window on State Government    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released the state's Biennial Revenue Estimate, showing the state is projected to have $101.4 billion available for general-purpose spending during the 2014-15 biennium. "Texas experienced a very strong rebound from a severe recession," Combs said. "The state's robust economic recovery led to better-than-expected revenue collections in major taxes such as the sales tax, oil and natural gas production taxes and motor vehicle sales taxes." More

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New Braunfels building company fined by OSHA for serious safety hazards
KGNB-AM    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A New Braunfels company has been fined by OSHA, which says they found a total of 7 serious safety violations during a recent inspection. BMC Building Materials and Construction Services, located on FM 482 here in New Braunfels, builds prefabricated wood trusses. But they are now facing fines totaling $41 thousand dollars following OSHA's allegations that the company exposes workers to electric and machine guarding hazards. More

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Summary of housing-related provisions in the fiscal cliff bill
NAHB    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The fiscal cliff has been avoided, thanks due to the enactment of H.R. 8, which extends permanently most, but not all of the 2001/2003 tax cuts. The legislation prevents a fiscal drag of $600 billion in 2013, which was large enough to push the continuing weak economy into recession. The following presents items in the bill that are of interest to housing and home builders. More

SunCal buys Texas home lots in $100 million of land deals
Bloomberg Businessweek    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
SunCal Cos., a U.S. housing developer that survived the collapse of its biggest partner, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., bought a 3,000-home site near Austin, Texas, as demand for lots heats up amid rising construction. The closely held company paid $15 million for the lots, bringing land purchases in the past 12 months to about $100 million, according to Brad Shuckhart, vice president of land acquisition. Irvine, California- based SunCal bought 208 acres (84 hectares) near Las Vegas for $19.8 million. More

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Housing a sweet spot for US economy as recovery expands
Bloomberg Businessweek    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
U.S. home sales and prices are poised to rise in 2013, solidifying a recovery that began last year after a half-decade slump that was the deepest since the Great Depression, according to analysts and economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Record-low mortgage rates and attractive prices, supported by declining unemployment, are luring buyers as the inventory of distressed homes shrinks. Home builders are responding by adding supply, bolstering economic growth. More

Texas, US home foreclosures drift lower
The Dallas Morning News Biz Beat Blog    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas home foreclosures continued to decline in November. CoreLogic Inc. reports that 1.1 percent of Texas home were in foreclosure in November — that's less than half the national rate of 3.2 percent. Lenders have foreclosed on 57,853 Texas homes during the 12 months ended with November, researchers with the housing and finance analyst said. And 11,590 Dallas-area homes were foreclosed on during the period. More

Groups say state has key role in conserving water
Fort Worth Star-Telegram    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Using less water is the cheapest way to meet Texas' long-term water needs. A state water plan envisions nearly a quarter of Texas' future water supplies coming from conservation. So what could and should Texas lawmakers do to promote the idea of saving water? Conservation is generally the domain of local authorities. Water supplies vary tremendously from place to place. Some towns may have fairly stable reservoirs, whereas others draw from diminishing aquifers. So local groups maintain day-to-day management of their water supplies, including ordering restrictions during drought (as many Texas cities have). More

Once again, legislating will disrupt politicking
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Texas Legislature's biennial 20-week session will start on Jan. 8, and it feels upside down, as if governing the state is an interruption of the normal business of politics. Think of it this way: Legislators govern for 140 of every 730 or 731 days (leap years) and spend the rest of the time running for office. Somewhere along the line, elections expanded to fill all of the space between sessions. More

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Expert: Texas schools running $1 billion short
The Associated Press via Austin American-Statesman    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas' public schools are $1 billion short, meaning officials will soon have to seek that much in supplemental appropriations from the state Legislature to meet upcoming financial obligations, a top official said at the school finance trial. Shirley Beaulieu, chief financial officer at the Texas Education Agency, testified before state District Judge John Dietz that in the coming weeks, her agency will have to request $1 billion in additional funding so that school districts can make their July expense payments. More

Texas House returns with largest contingent of new members in 40 years
Austin American-Statesman    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
State Rep.-elect Jonathan Stickland is 29. He left high school early and got a GED. He had never held or run for office before. His local elected officialdom was virtually unanimous in its preference for his Republican primary opponent. If he has a charisma it's in his super-ordinariness. And he doesn't even have the "R" in his last name that everyone assumes is supposed to be there. And there, in brief, are the keys to Stickland's stunning success. More

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Dallas-Fort Worth area home starts spike in response to strong sales
The Dallas Morning News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
North Texas home builders ended the year with a huge jump in construction. Home starts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were almost 50 percent higher in the fourth quarter of 2012 than they were a year earlier, researchers at Residential Strategies said recently. Builders started 4,549 homes in the area — the largest fourth quarter start total in the DFW area in five years. "Normally the fourth quarter is the slowest period of the year for new construction," Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies said. "It was a lot stronger than I thought it would be." (Registration may be required to view full article.) More

List of improving housing markets expands to 242 in January
NAHB    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In the latest sign of a burgeoning recovery in U.S. housing markets, the number of metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) rose for a fifth consecutive month to 242 in January. This is up from 201 markets listed as improving in December, and includes entrants from 48 states and the District of Columbia. The IMI identifies metro areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. More

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National homebuilder gets busy on El Paso's East Side
El Paso Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
El Paso home builders, who had this market to themselves for years, are now facing competition from the nation's largest home builder. Fort Worth-based D.R. Horton quietly entered this market two years ago, and plans to expand its presence here this year when it starts construction in the new, huge Mission Ridge master-planned community located just outside Horizon City, and in its own, small Ryderwood Estates in Horizon City. More

Bank of America to pay Fannie Mae for mortgage claims
Wealth Daily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Bank of America announced it will pay Fannie Mae $3.6 billion in an effort to settle home-loan repurchase claims and $6.75 billion to repurchase home mortgages it had sold to Fannie Mae. Countrywide Financial Corp. is at the heart of this drama. Bank of America had acquired Countrywide back in 2008, and Countrywide was the culprit in wide-scale mortgage losses during the financial crisis from 2008 onward. More

Texas builds 'hurricane domes' for double-duty
The Associated Press via WISH-TV    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas is building specially designed "hurricane domes" along its Gulf Coast that will offer shelter during major storms and serve the rest of the time as gyms or community centers. The proposed 28 domes are part of the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative, created to protect sick and elderly residents who can't evacuate ahead of a hurricane. First-responders will also be able to use the facilities, which are being funded mostly by the federal government. More
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