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Home   About Us   Membership   Education   Events   Contact Us           June 16, 2015

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Abbott signs business tax break bill
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that will save Texas businesses millions of dollars in taxes and tried out new tech at the sprawling Austin headquarters of Austin's Advanced Micro Devices. After ceremonially signing House Bill 32, cutting the business franchise tax on margins by 25 percent, the governor took a virtual reality rollercoaster ride via an Oculus 3D headset powered by AMD's Radeon R9 290X graphics card. As AMD staff explained the concepts behind the design, Abbott summed up the experience:
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Governor Abbott announces activation of State Operations Center as tropical system approaches Texas
Office of the Governor
Governor Greg Abbott has announced an elevated activation of the Texas State Operations Center as a tropical system is expected to impact parts of Texas. Governor Abbott has also approved the use of state resources that have been staged for rapid deployment as needed to assist local officials during this significant weather event. Texans are also encouraged to prepare for severe weather in their area.
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Hispanic majority San Antonio elects African-American mayor
San Antonio, the seventh-largest U.S. city and the only one of the 10 largest cities with a Hispanic majority, elected its first African-American mayor on Saturday in a closely watched runoff election. Ivy Taylor, a Yale-educated urban planning professor, won with an unlikely coalition of the city's two largest minority voting groups, blacks and generally conservative white voters, the latter comprising just 26 percent of the 1.4 million population.
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Retirements could offer tea party increased sway in Texas Senate
Houston Chronicle
The Texas Senate took a hard right turn this year as conservative Republicans consolidated their control over the upper chamber. Now, a further swing to the right could be in the offing with the announced retirements of two senior members. Sen. Kevin Eltife, a Tyler Republican who is considered more moderate and less doctrinaire than some of his GOP colleagues, announced that he will not run for reelection next year. His announcement follows that of Sen. Troy Fraser, a centrist GOP conservative from Horseshoe Bay, who told colleagues that day after the legislative session ended that he was leaving the chamber.
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Money still lacking for Texas' big road projects
The Dallas Morning News
In Texas, mega-bucks for transportation still don't necessarily cover mega-projects. Lawmakers worked this year to add billions of dollars to Texas' budget for roads, a task that's vexed them for most of a decade. They set the stage for Texas’ biggest-ever increase in transportation funds. And they did so while accounting for the public's loud demands for fewer toll roads.
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San Antonio home prices pass $200,000 landmark
San Antonio Express-News
San Antonio's reputation as an affordable city when it comes to buying homes may have taken a hit in May. For the first time, the median price for houses in San Antonio surpassed $200,000 — reaching $202,500, to be exact — according to data released by the San Antonio Board of Realtors. The 9.8 percent year-over-year increase indicates the local housing market remains hot. Low supply and high demand — a pattern in the local market since late 2013 — continue to drive up prices.
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Family-owned Highland Homes has grown to be one of the country's top private builders
The Dallas Morning News
During the last few years, mergers and acquisitions have led to consolidation in the home building industry, increasing the number of big nationwide firms. But a family-owned Plano company has used the time since the recession to develop its business into one of the largest private home building firms in the country. Highland Homes has increased its starts by about 40 percent in North Texas during the last five years. The company also builds in all the other major markets in the state — Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
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Home builder confidence hits 2015 high in June
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in June rose five points to a level of 59 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index This is the highest reading since September 2014. "Builders are reporting more serious and committed buyers at their job sites and this is reflected in recent government data showing that new-home sales and single-family construction are gaining momentum," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a homebuilder from Blue Springs, Mo.
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Building permits hit new 8-year high; May housing starts fall by 11.1 percent
Groundbreakings on new homes fell by a 11.1 percent in May but building permits hit a new eight-year high, the U.S. Commerce Department said. The numbers are one positive sign that the inventory shortage holding back the housing recovery could ease. Housing starts stood at a seasonally adjusted, annual rate of 1.036 million in May. While lower than April's level, that rate of new home construction is 5.1 percent above May 2014's rate of 986,000.
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Home builders Standard Pacific, Ryland Group agree to merger
The Associated Press via San Antonio Express-News
Standard Pacific Corp. and Ryland Group Inc. have agreed to merge in an all-stock transaction that will create a single home builder with operations in 17 states. The merger marks the first big move toward consolidation among the major publicly traded home builders in years and comes as the U.S. housing market continues to gradually regain its footing after years in a deep slump.
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