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Home    Education    Legislative    Publications    Calendar    Sunbelt Builders Show    Resources May. 2, 2013

TAB News Briefs
May. 2, 2013
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Garrett: Mortgage reform likely to pass US House in 2013
Bloomberg Businessweek    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to pass a bill this year to reduce the influence of the government-backed Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Representative Scott Garrett said. Government-backed mortgages have accounted for more than 90 percent of U.S. housing financing since 2008, when the private mortgage market dried up. As housing recovers and the government-sponsored enterprises — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — return to profitability, it's time to rely more heavily on the private sector, said Garrett, a Republican from New Jersey. More

Officials warn of scammers looking to make money while residents try to rebuild
KWKT-TV    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
West officials are urging residents to be on alert for scammers in the area. We're told contractors from across the country have come to West, some are actually willing to help and others come with bad intentions. "We've had a lot of door to door people knocking, wanting to look at our home, and ask us if they can do repairs and stuff with companies that I'm not real sure of," said 25 year resident, Vicky Pustejovsky. "There's quite a bit of work that's going to happen up there, so these people come in, and they thrive on the elderly," said Kent Garbett, President of the Heart of Texas Builder's Association. More
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Opinion: Failure of Texas water funding bill was a big mistake
Fort Worth Star-Telegram    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Political wrangling in the Texas House foiled a much-needed water bill. It's not only the dire water conditions across the state that made HB11 by Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, a good idea. They are dire, with surface reservoirs across the state holding only 66 percent of their conservation storage capacity at the end of March, according to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Some reservoirs in the northern part of the Texas Panhandle are effectively dry, the TWDB reported. Most of the state is in a prolonged drought. More

State might ax city tree ordinance
San Antonio Express-News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It's not easy being a tree in Texas. Our oaks, mesquites and maples face a long list of threats: Global warming, drought, pests and sprawling development come to mind. Add the Texas Legislature to the list. Once again, lawmakers are entertaining a "tree bill" that would chop down local ordinances — hello, San Antonio and Austin! — designed to protect urban canopies. More

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Lawmakers want answers on West explosion
The Texas Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While not downplaying the devastation of the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, the head of the state's emergency management operations told lawmakers that "the system worked." Testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, Nim Kidd, the chief of Texas' Division of Emergency Management, told lawmakers that first responders and local officials in the small farming community mobilized quickly to tend to the wounded, organizing a triage area in town that helped to save lives. The April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co. killed 15 people, injured hundreds and leveled much of the town. More

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Obama taps Representative Watt as US housing regulator
Reuters    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
U.S. President Barack Obama nominated a veteran Democratic congressman to oversee mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , a choice that could set up a contentious political debate over housing policy. Representative Mel Watt, a longtime consumer advocate who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, understands the roots of the housing crisis, Obama said at the White House. More

Statement from Chairman Rick Judson on NC Rep. Mel Watt's nomination to head FHFA
NAHB    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The following is a statement from NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C., on the nomination of Representative Mel Watt to be the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency: "We applaud the nomination of Representative Watt to this important position. After four years in conservatorship, the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stands at a crossroad." More

Rogue Republican might have had a hand in killing water bill
Austin American-Statesman    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The leader of the Texas House's Republican caucus blamed Democrats for sinking legislation that would have paid for a state water infrastructure fund. But a rogue member of the GOP might have had a hand in taking down the water bill. The water bill would have set aside $2 billion from the state's rainy day fund to pay for water projects. More

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Do-over votes in Texas Legislature raise questions
The Texas Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Texas Legislature took three high-profile mulligans in April. Twice in the House and once in the Senate, a majority of lawmakers voted one way on a bill or amendment, only to quickly turn around and vote the other way. The incidents raise a troubling question: Are lawmakers regularly voting on legislation they don't understand? More

Bills would limit legal action in environmental disputes
Times Record-News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Bills in the Legislature could affect environmental regulations and cities' ability to handle environmental litigation. Luke Metzger, director of the Environment Texas environmental advocacy group, said he is alarmed by Senate Bill 957 from Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, which would decrease oversight on permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The bill would reform the "contested case hearing." Those hearings happen even after technical review from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and after two public hearings. The contested case hearings require an administrative law judge to make a ruling in a complaint. More

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Editorial: Revive plan to finance water projects
Austin American-Statesman    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Death by parliamentary procedure. In the Texas House, that was the unfortunate fate that befell the proposal to use $2 billion from the rainy day fund to finance water projects. All is not quite lost, not yet. Resurrection is possible if enough House members are willing to practice a little legislative CPR and revive a plan the state can ill afford to do without. More

Builders hold lotteries for eager new homebuyers
CNNMoney    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Demand among homebuyers is so high in some parts of the country that builders are holding lotteries to decide who gets to purchase homes in their developments. O'Brien Homes started holding a monthly housing lottery for its 228-unit development called Fusion in Sunnyvale, Calif., after seeing throngs of prospective buyers camp out at the openings of other new condo complexes in the area. More

Bill would give landowners greater leeway to chop down trees
Austin American-Statesman    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In 2011, a 57-foot pecan tree on private land in downtown Austin became a symbol of the good and bad of Austin's tree-protection rules, depending on your point of view. Developers wanted to fell the giant pecan to build a residential tower on the lot at Bowie and West Fifth streets. But city rules forced them to save the tree, and the developers ended up moving it nearby, at a cost of more than $200,000. Some said the city had no business telling landowners what to do with a tree on private property. But environmentalists said the city was right to intervene, because large trees offer not just beauty but also benefits such as shade and filtering pollutants from the air. More

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Editorial: Major water bill must not be sunk by political sideshow
Beaumont Enterprise    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
State Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland has put in a lot of hard work to solve the growing gap between the state's water needs and supplies. In this session, he designed an innovative plan to borrow $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to jump-start $27 billion worth of water development projects across the state. Top state leaders and the business community endorsed this visionary approach. Yet all of this may have fallen apart over a procedural glitch and political bickering. More
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