TAB News Briefs
Mar. 8, 2012

Spending, tax legislation to dominate 2013 Texas session
The Associated Press via Theeagle.com
The Texas Legislature may not return to work for another 11 months, but that hasn't kept the state's leadership from signaling what it thinks will be the big issues to tackle next year. House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, have issued so-called interim charges to the Legislature's committees. These are essentially homework assignments for lawmakers before the next session to get prepared for the state's most pressing issues. Not surprisingly, money matters are at the top of the list.More

$4 million donated after Central Texas wildfires
The Associated Press via The Brownsville Herald
Parts of Central Texas devastated by wildfires last year have benefited from more than $4 million in private donations and the help of volunteers who are rebuilding homes. In Bastrop County, agencies and groups are trying to rebuild more than 200 homes for people who did not have insurance or not enough insurance.More

Texas Railroad Commission executive director departs
Texas Tribune
John Tintera, executive director of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, is leaving the agency. "I understand that he is retiring," said Michael Williams, a former Railroad Commissioner who is now running for Congress. The reasons for his seemingly sudden retirement are unknown. Tintera joined the commission in 1990 and became executive director in 2009.More

Gilmer receives $542,000 housing grant from state
Longview News-Journal
Gilmer is receiving a $542,000 grant to repair or replace dilapidated houses in the city, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has announced. The department announced it was awarding the money to fund repairs for low-income homeowners, helping residents maintain ownership while also providing a boost to the local economy.More

Change is housing market key
San Antonio Express-News
Move over, baby boomers. San Antonio, the state of Texas and the U.S. as a whole are looking a lot younger and more diverse — and addressing the housing needs of that next generation will be driving the country's housing policy in the next decades.That was the overarching message at the International Center downtown, where the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission and the Jack Kemp Foundation hosted a housing forum — the first of four to be held across the country. Commission members are trying to help reform the nation's housing policies, putting everything from the mortgage interest deduction to financing of public housing up for discussion.More

Number of available houses in Midland reaches new low
MyWestTexas.com
Midland's housing shortage reached a new low this week. According to the Multiple Listing Services, the number of available houses fell from 245 at the close of 2011 to its current total of 187 — the lowest in the seven years of statistics available, said MLS Director Carroll Nall.More

Editorial: Refine rules to prevent future fires
Austin American-Statesman
Like wars, fires unleash their awesome destructive power and leave behind ashes tracked across broken dreams. And like war, the best way to fight fire is to prevent it. The American-Statesman has offered a comprehensive and sometimes heartbreaking look at the aftermath of the Labor Day weekend fires that destroyed homes and redirected lives. Two people died in the fires that consumed Bastrop, the worst in the state's history. Though the newspaper series ends, the fire threat does not.More

Texas economy showing more signs of recovery
Dallas Morning News
The evidence continues to grow that the Texas economy is improving. The signs include a boost in exports, a small increase in residential construction, stronger home prices, a jump in manufacturing and solid employment growth, according to the Comerica Bank Index of Texas Economic Activity and other signs. (Registration required to view full article.)More

Editorial: Driving a hard bargain to fund Texas roads
San Antonio Express-News
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth writes, "I recently attended the seventh annual Texas Transportation Forum in San Antonio, sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Attendees heard again what state lawmakers heard during the legislative session last year: Funding for new roads may run out in two years, leaving just enough money to maintain current roads. No one wants that to happen."More

Report: Homeowners keeping their heads above water
San Antonio Business Journal
When it comes to their residential mortgages, most local homeowners remain headed in the right direction, according to a recent analysis by Santa Ana, Calif.-based CoreLogic. In the San Antonio/New Braunfels metro area, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, 8.2 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity.More

Texas Gas Service seeking rate hike
Austin American Statesman
Texas Gas Service, which provides heat for much of the Austin area, is planning to raise its rates by summer. Under the proposal, the typical home would pay an average of $1.20 more a month. A typical business would pay $4.35 more; a large business, $65.41; and an industrial manufacturer, $19.44, according to city estimates. Texas Gas Service says it needs to collect more money to pay mainly for pipe replacement, as well as for new automated meters around the area.More

San Jacinto River Authority groundwater plan construction
YourWoodlandsNews.com
Construction could begin in late fall on the San Jacinto River Authority's Groundwater Reduction Plan pipeline — 55 miles worth of pipe that runs from Conroe south through The Woodlands and could have a significant impact on traffic in South County. Mark Smith, administrator of the Groundwater Reduction Plan, said the design of the pipeline is about 30 percent complete and the SJRA is working on purchasing about 200 to 300 easements in the county, which is why construction probably won't begin until "late fall 2012."More

Border security sets new focus on responding to risks
The Associated Press via Theeagle.com
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher unveiled parts of his agency's new strategic four-year plan to tackle border security recently, saying that agents will focus on better responding to risks. Fisher addressed a crowd of law enforcement and those working in the border security field at a major border expo in downtown Phoenix.More

NLRB poster rule is upheld, but sanctions are disallowed
NAHB
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in a case brought by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), has upheld the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) collective bargaining rights poster rule, but has also held that an employer's failure to display the poster will not be considered to be an unfair labor practice, nor will it toll the statute of limitations for filing an unfair labor practice complaint. If the rule lacks these sanctions, it may be unenforceable as a practical matter. However, because there is uncertainty as to whether the NLRB or private parties may assert other enforcement options, NAM has announced its intention to appeal the portion of the court's decision that upholds the NLRB rule.

The court's opinion may be found at this link: https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2011cv1629-59.

There remains pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina a separate challenge to the NLRB collective bargaining rights poster rule brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The NLRB poster rule is scheduled to go into effect on April 30, 2012. Posters can be ordered through this link https://www.nlrb.gov/poster.

For more information, please contact David Crump at dcrump@nahb.org, or 800-368-5242 x 8491.More