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Home   About Us   Membership   Education   Events   Contact Us           August 20, 2015

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Luckless at Capitol, minimum wage advocates go local
The Texas Tribune
After years of failed proposals in the Texas Legislature to raise the minimum wage, organizers and advocates for higher hourly wages are going local. Leaders in two major Texas cities and two large counties will vote soon on raising minimum wages for public employees and, in some cases, for employees of private companies that contract or receive financial incentives from local governments.
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TAB accepting 'Of The Year' award nominations
Nominations for the 2015 Texas "Of The Year" awards are now being accepted. In an effort to recognize outstanding contributions to the industry by its members, the Texas Association of Builders will be receiving nominations for:
    J.B. Sandlin Builder of the Year
    Associate of the Year
    Developer of the Year
    Remodeler of the Year
    Philanthropist of the Year
    Local Association Accomplishment of the Year
    Presidential Distinguished Service
The "Of The Year" awards grading is based on state association involvement (50 percent), local association involvement (30 percent), and national association involvement (20 percent). Contributions in these categories are judged on previous years' involvement, as well as current year's activities. Each candidate is judged independently and a final tabulation of the results will determine the winner. The "Association Accomplishment of the Year" and "Distinguished Service" awards will be based upon 2015 contributions and achievements.

All of the forms for nominating deserving members for these awards can be found at When making nominations, be aware that individuals currently serving as TAB officers are ineligible to receive these awards. The nomination forms should be completed and returned to the Texas Association of Builders, 313 E. 12th Street, Ste. 210, Austin, Texas 78701 by Sept. 15, 2015. A letter of recommendation from the local association Executive Officer must accompany the forms.

These awards will be presented at the TAB Fall Board Meeting and Excellence in Leadership Dinner on Nov. 12, 2015, at the Westin Austin Downtown Hotel in Austin, Texas.

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Home builder confidence rises 'slow but steady'
After a significant jump in June and then a stall in July, confidence among the nation's single-family home builders moved higher again in August, albeit at a slower pace. A monthly sentiment index from the National Association of Home Builders rose 1 point to 61, the highest level since November 2005. Any reading above 50 is considered positive. The index stood at 55 one year ago.
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Analysis: Don't discount the value of attention
The Texas Tribune
Entertainment value in politics is underrated. The moaning and groaning about Donald Trump and whether his campaign is a circus act has something to do with a general question about his résumé: Is this guy really a smart businessman, or is he P.T. Barnum in a bespoke suit? It doesn't matter. The circus is still named for Barnum, after all, and the value of attracting attention is evident in the front-runner's poll numbers. Candidates like Ann Richards, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Al Franken turned their stage presence into political success. Maybe it will work for Trump.
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Size of new homes in US shrinks by 1 closet
The Wall Street Journal
The median size of U.S. homes built in the second quarter declined from the record set in the previous quarter, suggesting builders are starting to shift toward producing more entry-level homes. Of the 206,000 homes that went under construction in the second quarter, the median size was 2,479 square feet, according to Commerce Department data released. That was 40 square feet smaller — or about the size of a walk-in closet — than the high set in the first quarter.
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Paxton re-indicted to clarify accusations against first-term AG
Houston Chronicle
Ken Paxton's first-degree felony indictments were dismissed and then re-issued so prosecutors could clarify the accusations against the first-term attorney general. A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton last month on two first-degree felonies and one third-degree felony for allegedly violating state securities laws. Paxton has not made any public comment about the accusations, citing a request from presiding Judge George Gallagher that the parties not discuss the issue, but his attorney used the re-indictment as an opening to lob criticisms against the two special prosecutors assigned to the case.
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Trial begins over undrinkable water in Webb County
The Texas Tribune
Incompetence, local politics, lack of resources — all have been blamed for the foul tap water that periodically streams from the faucets of about 8,000 residents in two small border communities. In Laredo's red brick courthouse, prosecutors began their efforts to prove that at least part of the problem was criminal. Two former plant supervisors — Johnny Amaya, a former water utilities director and well-connected political figure in Laredo, and his former deputy Luis Camacho — went on trial for allegedly instructing workers to falsify records to hide water quality problems from state regulators.
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Higher property values could drive up tax rate
Austin American-Statesman
With property values increasing by a countywide average of more than 11 percent, there's a strong possibility residents will be paying more in county taxes this coming year. The question is, how much. The Williamson County Commissioners Court voted — unanimously, but with some caveats — for a "proposed" tax rate of 48.65 cents per $100 assessed valuation. That's the same as the rate for the current fiscal year, yet would lead to a higher tax bill because of increased values.
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Housing starts near 8-year high, but permits fall
U.S. housing starts rose to a near eight-year high in July as builders ramped up construction of single-family homes, suggesting that the economy was firing on almost all cylinders. The Commerce Department report added to solid payrolls, retail sales and industrial output data in suggesting the economy got off to a strong start in the third quarter. The steady flow of upbeat economic reports has bolstered views that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in September.
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Texas Supreme Court says city erred on HERO ballot language
Houston Chronicle
The Texas Supreme Court has again overruled Mayor Annise Parker's administration in connection with the legal fight over her signature nondiscrimination ordinance, ruling that the mayor and City Council erred in choosing the language that will appear on the November ballot when the ordinance faces possible repeal. The justices, writing in "yet another mandamus proceeding concerning the City of Houston's equal rights ordinance," said the city charter is clear in requiring that voters be asked to vote for or against the ordinance.
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Austin, Plano, San Antonio among hottest real estate markets in 2015
Home Buying Institute has been fueling headlines and feeding bloggers with its super "sexy" list of the hottest housing markets in the country. In its latest report, issued in mid August, the company ranked three Texas metro areas among the "Top 10 Hottest Zip Codes for Midyear 2015." By their estimation, Austin, San Antonio and Plano are three of the most sizzling real estate markets in the U.S. right now.
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Housing boom continues in Tomball
Houston Chronicle
With mobility improvements and further business growth, new housing developments are continuing to sprout in the Tomball region. From the expansion of Wildwood at NorthPointe and the developing Woodtrace community off Texas 249 to The Reserve at Spring Lakes off Zion Road, Alexander Estates off FM 2978 and Pine Country off Tomball Cemetery Road, new housing is keeping pace with population growth.
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