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Feb. 19, 2009
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Home Construction Drops Far More Than Expected
from The Associated Press via The Dallas Morning News
Construction of new homes and applications for future projects both plunged to record lows in January as all parts of the country showed big declines in building activity. The Obama administration, seeking to combat the most serious housing downturn in generations, on Wednesday unveiled an effort to deal with mortgage foreclosures to go along with housing support included in the $787 billion economic stimulus program. But analysts said they still do not expect a turnaround in housing until late this year at the earliest. More


Obama Unveils Plan to Stem Foreclosures
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
President Barack Obama rolled out a bold $75 billion, three-part plan Wednesday to halt the soaring rate of mortgage foreclosures nationwide, one that seeks to encourage refinancing of homes now worth less than their mortgages and provides incentives for lenders to lower the debt load on struggling homeowners. The Homeowner Stability Initiative, which Obama unveiled in Phoenix, seeks to address one of the triggers of the global financial crisis: the 2.3 million U.S. foreclosures last year that are protracting the housing crisis and helping to drive down home prices across the nation. More

Texas Foreclosures Will Have Ripple Effect
from The Dallas Morning News
At least one in three homeowners in Texas will probably feel the effects of the large number of foreclosures across the state, a Senate committee was told Wednesday. Housing experts said the 96,000 foreclosures statewide last year and a similar number expected this year will not only affect those who lose their homes, but also their neighbors and communities, as property values drop. One study also indicated that taxable property values in the state could decrease by more than $5 billion. More

Survey: Texas Still a Can Do State
from The Austin Business Journal
Texas isn’t letting the economy ruin its state of mind, a new Everest College survey finds. Ninety-five percent of those who participated in the Texas college’s survey said they consider themselves independent despite the difficult economic outlook. Meanwhile, more than half - 55 percent - said they would get a new job, start a new career or go back to school in an effort to counteract recession efforts. More

Angry Words Fly Between Texas Legislator, Lawyer After Immigration Discussion
from The Dallas Morning News
In a heated exchange over immigration Wednesday, Rep. Leo Berman shouted "go home!" to a Dallas lawyer of Chinese-American descent who had called the lawmaker "despicable" and "evil." The confrontation followed a panel discussion on the issue, where Berman, R-Tyler, spoke about his bill to relocate illegal immigrants to "sanctuary cities," where law officers are instructed not to ask people they encounter about their immigration status. Harry Joe, who practices immigration law with the Winstead law firm, approached Berman afterwards, and the discussion soon turned angry. More

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'Just Not a Numbers Guy'
from The Austin American-Statesman
This notion of some members being upset with their committee assignments has had just enough life in it to stick around for a week now. The complaining has come mainly, but not exclusively, from Democrats. Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, told the Statesman’s Laylan Copelin that he’s not happy being on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. “I’m just not a numbers guy,” Driver said, likely causing whoever his political consultant is to break out into a cold sweat. More

Perry Relents on Stimulus Money
from The Austin American-Statesman
Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday formally requested the state's share of the $787 billion economic stimulus package that he has fiercely criticized in recent weeks, putting to rest speculation that he may not seek the money. But Texas still might leave some of the money on the table, as it does now with some other federal funds, because Perry wants to use the stimulus money only for one-time expenses. More

Texas Latinos’ Primary Lawsuit to be Reconsidered
from The Houston Chronicle
Latino voters who sued the Texas Democratic Party claiming its presidential delegate system discriminates against Hispanics are getting another chance to make their case. A judge threw out the lawsuit last year, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Tuesday that a three-judge panel - not one judge - should decide the merits of the case and sent it back to lower courts for reconsideration. More

Allstate Names New Leader of Texas Operations
from Dallas Business Journal
Allstate Corp., which has a regional office in Irving, has appointed a new leader to oversee the insurance company’s operations in Texas. The company named Phil Lawson the new field vice president of Allstate Insurance Co.’s Texas region. He previously had been field vice president of Allstate’s Florida region and president of Allstate Floridian Insurance Co. Lawson’s promotion makes him responsible for one of Allstate’s largest regional operations. Allstate is the second-largest home and auto insurer in Texas. More

Optimism for Changes in School Finance This Legislative Session
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Key legislators in the House and Senate education committees met with school officials from the state’s largest districts this week to discuss the possibility of an overhaul of school finance this session. The state has earmarked $1.9 billion to help with the efforts, according to a legislative budget report. The session began with little optimism that major changes would be made. Some Tarrant County lawmakers said they hoped, at best, to funnel some additional funds. But school leaders from around the state have said major changes can’t wait. Some have cut programs, and others are considering laying off teachers in the next budget year. More

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