TAB News Briefs
Apr. 25, 2013

Builders respond to West tragedy: Texas Builders Foundation issues a statewide call to action
West, TX logoThe Heart of Texas Builders Association (Waco) has formed a task force to coordinate the home building industry's efforts to help the community of West, Texas rebuild following the devastating plant explosion on April 17. The Texas Builders Foundation has established a dedicated fund and is accepting donations, 100 percent of which will be distributed to those whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the explosion. Many association members were directly affected by the blast, and the task force will offer immediate assistance to our HBA family members. Larger community outreach will occur as resources allow.More

Housing recovery continues but headwinds remain
Buoyed by rising home prices throughout much of the nation, both single-family and multifamily housing starts are expected to post double-digit gains over last year in 2013. However, headwinds continue to hold back even stronger growth as the housing recovery evolves, according to economists at NAHB's Spring 2013 Construction Forecast Conference Webinar. "The broadening housing expansion is evidenced by the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index, which now lists 273 metros areas out of a universe of 361, or three-quarters of the metropolitan areas in the U.S.," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.More

Officials: Record drought could drag on
The Monitor
When the spigot turned off in October 2010, it stayed off. And there's no telling when it could turn back on again. The National Weather Service says the South Texas drought is the worst in modern memory, with only a 0.1 percent chance of happening over the past 120 years. Since the last major rainfall amounts in October 2010, the Valley has only seen about 30 inches of rainfall — shattering the previous record of 38 inches set over a 29-month period in the early 1950s. The drought has blown away all prior records for its magnitude to make it a "true outlier," said Barry Goldsmith, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Brownsville office.More

Senate backs $5.7 billion for roads, water, schools
The Texas Tribune
Texas senators have hammered out a sweeping deal to increase state funding for water and transportation projects and schools, tackling some of the thorniest issues of the legislative session all at once. The senators voted 31-0 for Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would ask Texas voters to approve taking $5.7 billion out of the state's Rainy Day Fund. Of that amount, $2.9 billion would go to transportation, $2 billion to water infrastructure projects and $800 million to public education.More

TAB wins Award of Excellence
The Texas Association of Builders has been recognized with an Award of Excellence from the Executive Officers Council (EOC) of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The association won for its 2012 Leadership Conference in the category: Operations — Best Service Provided by a State Association to Local Associations. The Association Excellence Awards is an annual program designed to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of state and local home builders' associations and executive officers in the field of association management. EOC membership is comprised of the staff executives who direct more than 750 NAHB-affiliated state and local home builders' associations representing more than 140,000 home builders in communities across the United States. The winning entries will become part of the online EOC Idea Loan File so that other executives and associations across the country can access and learn from them in order to provide better service to their own members and community. Awards will be distributed at the Association Leadership Institute (ALI), Aug. 14, 2013 in Portland, Ore.More

Housing rebound in US hampered by success as costs soar
Bloomberg Businessweek
Even as U.S. housing rebounds from its worst downturn since the 1930s, production bottlenecks are pushing up building-materials costs, land prices are rising and skilled labor ready to begin work is hard to find. Suppliers of glass, drywall and wood products, who reduced output during the slump, are testing the vigor of the rebound by boosting prices before committing to restore capacity. Builders, including Lennar Corp., Toll Brothers Inc. and KB Home, are asking home buyers for more money as a result or are delaying sales, posing a temporary hurdle for the industry that has become one of the pillars of the economic expansion.More

Texas lawmakers consider bill for beach closures
The Brownsville Herald
Two pieces of legislation that aim to open the door for future rocket launches in Cameron County moved forward Wednesday with both the Texas House and Senate versions of bills getting favorable responses from legislators in Austin. During the session, House Bill 2623 passed its second reading while its companion bill, Senate Bill 1574, passed out of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.More

Texas lawmakers consider workers' rights bills
San Antonio Express-News
After one too many 60-hour weeks at a construction site where the boss skipped payments to workers, Guillermo Perez asked for his final paycheck. The boss had other ideas. "It was found he was acting in bad faith," Perez said, describing the results of a state investigation to lawmakers at a hearing. "But he didn't suffer no repercussions." Perez, who ended up paying fines on his household bills as his family fell behind, urged the House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development to advance protections for workers.More

Straus House pushes water to front of line for rainy day dollars
The Dallas Morning News
House budget writers feuded publicly April 23 about use of rainy day money, foreshadowing an end of session showdown between the House and Senate over whether and how to tap into state savings. The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill to spend $2 billion from the rainy day fund on water projects. The vote was 17-3, with three very conservative Republicans voting no and two Democrats abstaining. Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, strongly supports the bill.More

Bill packs more than new name for Railroad Commission
StateImpact Texas via The Texas Tribune
The Railroad Commission wields a big stick in Texas. It regulates the state's most profitable industry — oil and gas — and all Texans elect its three commissioners. One thing the Railroad Commission doesn't control, however, is railroads. A bill debated at a Senate Natural Resources Committee meeting would give the commission a new name, the Texas Energy Resources Commission, and implement other reforms as part of the so-called sunset review process.More

Combs endorses Senate's use of rainy day money
The Dallas Morning News
Comptroller Susan Combs has endorsed the Senate's use of $5.7 billion of rainy day money for water projects, roads and education. "I commend Senator Williams for his leadership in writing [the constitutional amendment] and sending this to the voters for what I view as an ideal, one-time use of taxpayer dollars," Combs said after the Senate unanimously passed Sen. Tommy Williams' measure. (Registration may be required to view full article.)More

Political disclosure bill moves to the full House
San Antonio Express-News Texas Politics Blog
A House panel unanimously passed a bill requiring certain tax-exempt dark money groups to start disclosing their donors to the public. Senate Bill 346 by Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would require 501(c)4 groups that spend $25,000 or more on politicking to disclose to the public contributors who pony up more than $1,000. Labor unions are exempt.More

Texas House kills, then revives state lottery, bingo games
El Paso Times
The Texas Lottery suffered a near-death experience recently, when the state House of Representatives voted to kill it, as well as all charitable bingo games. But after a recess, during which the would-be killers were apparently convinced of their folly, the House mustered a supermajority to reconsider the vote and promptly reversed itself. Members of the El Paso delegation were scratching their heads in perplexity when the body narrowly voted to end the Texas Lottery Commission.More