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TAB News Briefs
Jan. 27, 2009
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Leading Economic Indicators, Home Sales Rise
from The Associated Press via The Dallas Morning News
A flood of federal bailout money pushed a private research group's monthly forecast of economic activity unexpectedly higher in December, while a decline in home prices boosted housing sales. Existing home sales rose 6.5 percent in December to an annual rate of 4.74 million units, as the median home sales price plunged 15.3 percent to $175,400 from $207,000 a year ago. The decline is the largest year-over-year drop in records going back to 1968. More


North Texas Lawmakers Could Lose House Committee Positions
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Two North Texas lawmakers appear in danger of losing their committee chairmanships in the 2009 Legislature if House members accept recommendations to merge those committees with others. The two lawmakers are Reps. Phil King, R-Weatherford, and Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, former allies of deposed House Speaker Tom Craddick. King’s Regulated Industries Committee would be eliminated and spread among five others. Truitt’s Pensions and Investments Committee would be merged into an expanded committee on financial services. More

Report Outlines Decline in Texas Construction
from The Houston Business Journal
Texas is expected to experience a considerable slowdown in construction activity in 2009, according to a report issued by McGraw-Hill Construction. The outlook for the coming year calls for construction spending of roughly $54.4 billion in Texas, down 13 percent from 2008, the report indicates. However the building of the giant Motiva and Valero refineries in Port Arthur that created 5,000 jobs buoyed the numbers in 2008. More

Hutchison Says She’s in Governor’s Race For Keeps
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Congressman Hinojosa sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and then President-elect Obama on Wednesday, Jan. 13, urging the inclusion of rurU.S. Sen. Bailey Hutchison declared beyond any shadow of a doubt today in Austin that she will challenge Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 governor’s race -- and she assembled more than 300 Republicans from across the state to begin revving up her campaign as a show of her determination to unseat the incumbent. The inaugural meeting of Hutchison’s broad-based exploratory committee came as Perry prepared to reach out to a core constituency of his re-election bid by addressing an anti-abortion rally at the steps of the State Capitol. More

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Fewer Committees Under Proposed House Rules
from The Austin American-Statesman
There are five fewer committees in the Texas House under the proposed new rules. Government Reform is merged into State Affairs; Judiciary into Civil Jurisprudence; Law Enforcement into Criminal Jurisprudence and Law Enforcement; Local Government Ways and Means into Ways and Means; and Pensions and Investments is merged into Financial Services and Pensions. More

Realtors Get Creative to Combat Tougher Market
from The Dallas Business Journal
If you ask Jim Fite, real estate is great. At least that’s the message that the president of Century 21 Judge Fite Co. is trying to convey to his Realtors and clients about the Dallas market. And, according to his sales numbers, the new marketing message has been effective, causing a spike in confidence and sales. “It’s OK to be able to say those words. It’s another thing to prove it,” Fite said. “If you can change people’s attitudes, then you can change people’s behaviors.” Beginning about six months ago, Fite put some relatively inexpensive tactics into motion: developed a new logo, retrained sales staff and started scheduling public talks throughout the Metroplex, updating people on what’s happening in the sagging real estate market, which has performed stronger in the D-FW area than many other major cities across the nation. More

Busy Realtors Ride Rising Tide of Foreclosures
from The Houston Business Journal
The residential foreclosure market set a sales record in 2008, and Realtors active in this sector anticipate an even bigger year in 2009. “It’s the busiest year I’ve ever had in my 28 years in the business,” says Mike Weaster, a Realtor with Century 21 Excel. Weaster sold 779 foreclosed homes - up from 680 in 2007 - for a total of $86.9 million in 2008, despite losing approximately 200 deals during Hurricane Ike. More

Harlingen Resident Claims Land Annexation Illegal
from The Brownsville Herald
Recent annexation of land on the western edge of Harlingen was done illegally, a resident of the affected area claimed Wednesday during a City Commission meeting. Charles Lee, of 15834 Palm Vista Drive, said city officials failed to comply with state law during the annexation process. More

Dallas-Area Homebuilders Suspend Operations, Leave Buyers in the Lurch
from The Dallas Morning News
The worst housing market in generations is taking a big toll on the local homebuilding industry. More than two dozen builders have suspended operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, analysts estimate, leaving some homebuyers and new owners in the lurch. More

Stakes High for Perry’s Speech Today
from The Austin American-Statesman
Gov. Rick Perry today will give what could be his most important state of the state speech in his eight years as governor. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is running against him in the 2010 Republican primary, the toughest challenge Perry has ever faced. And the national economic nosedive is hitting Texas, giving lawmakers less money to spend and, if projections hold up, taking away thousands of jobs. More

Combs: Texas in Good Shape, But Vulnerable
from The Tyler Morning-Telegraph
"Texas is really, really, no kidding, doing better than any other state," State Comptroller Susan Combs announced to about 40 business, education and community leaders inside the Texas Room at Tyler Junior College's West Campus on Thursday. Ms. Combs said though Texas is not impervious to a slumping national economy, generally the state lags behind the curve on the downturn and recovers quicker during the upswing. There were several factors that led to Texas' relative economic stability, she said. More

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