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Dec. 11, 2008
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Home Sales Take Record Plunge
from The Dallas Morning News
Even as banks streamline programs to renegotiate troubled mortgages, efforts to help Texas homeowners are being hindered by the state's fast-track foreclosure process, according to housing counselors and government officials. In other states, foreclosure can take as long as four months, giving the borrower more time to negotiate a better loan or catch up with missed payments. But in Texas, the process starts sooner and may take as little as 41 days to complete – the quickest in the country, according to a 2006 study by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. More


The Coming Clash of Heavyweights
from The Dallas Morning News
So the rodeo's on. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has formed an exploratory committee, the first step toward challenging Rick Perry for the Texas governor's mansion in 2010. Democratic and Republican lines are already forming for the vacancy she would create upon resigning from the Senate. The current focus is on the titanic contest that looms between one of Texas history's most distinguished U.S. senators and its longest-serving governor (a title Rick Perry will inherit next week when his days of service outnumber twice-elected Bill Clements). More

Two New Entrants in U.S. Senate Race: John Sharp, Roger Williams
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The scramble for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat began taking shape Monday, as former Texas Comptroller John Sharp formally announced his bid for the Democratic nomination and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams prepared to take his first step toward entering what is likely be a crowded Republican field. Williams, a Weatherford auto dealer who most recently headed the Texas Republican Party’s 2008 get-out-the-vote drive, said he plans to announce an exploratory committee within the "the next day or two," the opening move toward a possible full-fledged campaign. Sharp is the first Democrat in the race. He said would begin campaigning across the state "with the dawn of the new year." More

Panel to Pitch Property Tax Relief
from Lubbock Online
In the spring and summer, a Texas House committee looking into tax relief for property traveled all over the state, including a stop in Lubbock. Members heard from people at each stop about how to improve the current system without hurting the state’s ability to collect revenue. Now it’s time to deliver. With that in mind, the 13 members of the House Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform met in Austin on Monday and though the meeting was short and there were no specifics, chairman John Otto made it clear that the panel would make specific recommendations to the 81st Legislature, which starts in five weeks. More

21 Important Number in Texas Legislature
from The Texas Tribune
The number 21 takes on special significance in the Texas Senate. That is the two-thirds vote of the 31 senators needed to bring a measure to the floor for debate. Senators traditionally do not approach the lieutenant governor, who presides over the Senate and basically sets its agenda, to request recognition on a bill until they are reasonably certain that 20 of their colleagues will vote with them to bring it up. On the flip side, the other significant number is 11. That's the necessary one-third to guarantee blockage of the two-thirds vote. Sometimes, when senators are trying to kill off bills they don't like, they will circulate a letter signed by at least 11 of them, telling of their plans to vote "no." More

Voting Mix Up Cited in Provisional Ballot Fight in State House Race
from The Dallas Morning News
Republicans claimed there were voting inconsistencies in the tight state House District 105 race in Irving, and a Keller couple is likely to be one of the most obvious examples. Tory and Brooke Schoonmaker cast provisional ballots at an Irving polling place after being directed there by a Web site. Mr. Schoonmaker's ballot was rejected by a ballot board, but his wife's was accepted despite her address in Keller. Three board members and county elections officials had recommended rejecting the woman's ballot, but Democratic ballot board chairwoman Chorsia Davis, who has been criticized for her handling of the provisional votes, used her authority to overrule their recommendations and allowed the ballot. More

Gov. Perry Gets Suspicious Letter
from The Brownsville Herald
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has become the latest in a string of state governors to receive a suspicious package. Perry's office said they received an envelope Wednesday at an office not in the Capitol. It contained a white powder that was determined not to be toxic, officials said. More

Foreclosure Storm Will Hit U.S. in 2009 As Loan Changes Fail
from Bloomberg
U.S. foreclosure filings climbed 28 percent in November from a year earlier and a brewing storm of new defaults and job losses may force 1 million homeowners from their properties next year, RealtyTrac Inc. said. A total of 259,085 properties got a default notice, were warned of a pending auction or were foreclosed on last month, the seller of default data said in a report today. That’s the fewest since June. Filings fell 7 percent from October as state laws and lender programs designed to delay the foreclosure process allowed delinquent borrowers to stay in their homes. "We’re going to see a pretty significant storm next year," Rick Sharga, executive vice president of marketing for Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac, said in an interview. "There are two or three clouds that suggest a pretty heavy downpour."More

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