Texas Senate Approves Budget

Texas will empty one-third of its pocketbook on health care in the next two years. And that's maintaining an unwanted superlative: Texas remains the state with the highest percentage of people without health insurance – 25 percent. Still, as the Senate approved a two-year, $182.2 billion state budget Wednesday, the fact that it would spend $61.4 billion on health care drew barely a mention. It's by far the largest category of spending, above public schools ($52.1 billion) and higher education ($22.7 billion). More

Opinion: Small Fee Big for Affordable Housing

Here in Dallas, homelessness is on the rise, which is perhaps why Mayor Tom Leppert joined with seven other big-city mayors this year to ask Gov. Rick Perry for $25 million for programs to remedy the homeless crisis in Texas cities. More

New Home Starts down 47 Percent in Austin Area

New home starts in the Austin area continued to decline in the first quarter of 2009, according to research from Residential Strategies Inc. Builders started 1,215 homes in the first quarter, a 47 percent decrease from the same quarter last year. That brings the current annual start rate to 7,938 units. At the market’s peak, in the third quarter of 2006, Austin saw 17,128 annual starts. More

Legislative Briefs: Group Rates Bills to Redefine Eminent Domain

Proposals to limit and define eminent domain are getting a close look at the Capitol, and on Tuesday the Texas chapter of the Institute for Justice gave out its "report card" on some of the bills. More

Foreclosure Auctions Drawing Lots of Bidders

Thousands of Americans are braving a treacherous national economy for the chance to pick up bargain foreclosed properties. Nationwide, about 45 percent of recent home sales were previously foreclosed or distressed properties, according to the National Association of Realtors. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, almost 10 percent of current listings are identified as foreclosures. More

Legislature Weighs Increased Regulation of Annuities

State lawmakers are trying to rein in the often eye-popping commissions paid to insurance agents who sell questionable or downright bogus financial products to elderly Texans. But officials say the industry, including the maligned insurance giant American International Group, is fighting hard against increased regulation. More

Developer Killed in Firey Wreck

The state fire marshal's office will investigate the fiery Wednesday morning traffic wreck that killed Amarillo real estate developer Steve Wright Sterquell. The crash occurred about 7 a.m. when Sterquell, 56, of Amarillo ran off southbound Interstate 27 in a 2007 Lexus SUV and slammed into a pillar under the U.S. Highway 87 overpass outside of Canyon. An explosion after the wreck left the car charred. More

Risk of Drastic Home Price Drop Still 'Minimal' in DFW

The risk of a home price decline in the Dallas-Fort Worth area crept up a bit in the final months of 2008. But the likelihood of lasting, significant drops in residential value here is still "minimal," according to the latest report from mortgage insurance firm PMI Group. The California-based firm estimates that the D-FW area has less than a 3 percent chance that overall home prices will be lower two years from now than they are today, the report released Wednesday said. More

Hearing Under Way to Decide Whether State Farm Overcharged Texas Customers

State Farm customers will soon find out if they are due refunds of $250 or more to resolve allegations that they were overcharged by the state's largest insurer over the past several years. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin began listening to testimony Wednesday in one of the biggest insurance rate cases ever in Texas. State Farm disputed claims by state regulators that it charged excessive rates on homeowners policies beginning in 2003. More