April 6, 2017

Aaron Day Testifies on HB 1974; SB 1249 Passes Senate and Moves on to House

On Tuesday, April 4, Aaron Day, director of government affairs and counsel for TLTA, testified against HB 1974.
"It is our understanding that the bill will remove the discretion that's very fundamental for the underwriters and independent agents to take into account whether or not they're going to accept a power of attorney," said Day. "We are in a position of suspecting fraud often times, and it's that circumstance we're most concerned about."
Day added, "We're simply opposing this filed version of the bill. We are ready to negotiate with the other stakeholders, including the probate section of the bar, and we are very confident we have a good steward in the bill author, so we look forward to those conversations."
Filed by Rep. John Wray, HB 1974 would amend the durable statutory power of attorney. TLTA supports this bill as long as it has amendments to clearly provide the discretion for title agents to reject powers of attorney. The bill has been left pending in committee.
Meanwhile, SB 1249 – Sen. Royce West's bill on adverse possession against co-tenants – passed out of the Senate on Wednesday, April 5. It will now move on to the House.

TLTA Creates Web Page of Bills We Are Following

 To keep our members informed about our legislative advocacy efforts, TLTA has created a web page listing all of the 104 bills we are following and our position on them (if one exists). The list is in order by topic.
View the Full List of Bills TLTA Is Following »
To review the process that House Bills go through in the Texas Legislature, click the picture to the right (courtesy of Texas Legislature Online).
To review the process that Senate Bills go through in the Texas Legislature, click here.

March 29, 2017

TLTA Member Roland Love Testifies for Adverse Possession v. Co-Tenants Bill

On Monday, March 27, TLTA member Roland Love testified on SB 1249, which would allow for adverse possession against co-tenants.

“This bill arose out of a situation where we had natural disasters such as hurricanes like Katrina,” said Love during his testimony. “It's been patterned largely after bills that are laws that already exist in New York and Louisiana; however, it is more stringent.”

Added Love, "Typically there is one person who's taken care of the property for many years, even multiple generations paid the taxes, and yet they don't have the clear title to allow them to get financial aid to mortgage the property, to improve the property and otherwise deal with the property, and this bill addresses that situation. It's good for the economy, it's good for the taxpayer base and it's good for the families that have this property, and their families."

As TLTA reported on Feb. 1, our affirmative agenda for this legislative session includes seeking the introduction and passage of a bill that will provide a statutory means of adversely possessing real property against co-tenants. Currently, no such mechanism exists. The need for such a path was discovered when lower-income individuals and families could not obtain disaster relief assistance from the federal government because they could not prove up their property ownership.

TLTA will keep you posted on the status of this bill as it changes.

TLTA Adopts Positions on Several Bills

During a Board of Directors conference call on Monday, March 27, TLTA voted to adopt official positions on several bills.

Read the Full List of Positions and Bills Being Followed »

March 22, 2017

Texas Legislature Is Busy – More Bills Filed This Session

The deadline to file bills during the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature was Friday, March 10. Just how active was bill filing during this session? Let’s break it down by the numbers.
  • Total bills filed: 6,517
  • House bills: 4,273
  • Senate bills: 2,244
  • Sine Die: Monday, May 29
  • Veto period ends: Sunday, June 18
Comparatively, the 84th session saw 6,276 bills filed, while 5,868 were filed in the 83rd session (not including the three special sessions).

Updated: TLTA Takes Position on Two Bills, Actively Following 104 Bills

On Monday, March 20, the TLTA Board of Directors approved motions to take positions on two bills:
  • SB 2203, by Sen. Kelly Hancock: Relating to title insurance
  • Motion approved by board to support bill with no amendments
  • HB 4239, by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr.: Relating to regulation of title insurance rates
  • Motion approved by board to oppose bill
In addition, TLTA has updated the list of bills we are actively tracking now that the legislature’s bill filing deadline has ended. The number of bills has increased to 104. Check out the new updated list below; the new bills and topics are in italics.
Read More »

March 15, 2017

Legislation on Lis Pendens Filed in Texas Legislature; Amicus Brief Filed by TLTA in Related Case

TLTA was instrumental in getting two bills filed last week – SB 1955 and HB 4086 – which would clarify that title insurance companies could rely on an expungement of lis pendens when evaluating a transaction. A recent combined case heard before the Supreme Court has begun to shed doubt on this previous certainty. If the Supreme Court were to decide that actual knowledge of the action in the lis pendens denied a purchaser the ability to rely on an expungement, this would have the practical effect of removing any ability of the title insurance industry to rely on an expungement, as each case would become a fact issue.
In addition, TLTA recently filed an amicus brief on lis pendens in these two cases combined and heard before the Supreme Court of Texas.
Read More »
Read the Amicus Brief »

Two More Title Insurance Bills Filed on Friday Bill Filing Deadline – TLTA Analyzing Impact

As TLTA reported in our Breaking News alert on Saturday, March 11, Friday was the deadline for bill filing at the Texas Legislature and, as we anticipated, there were additional bills filed dealing with the regulation of title insurance.
HB 4239 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr. (D-Palmview) proposes a flex band rate system as well as some other regulatory cleanup items dealing with transparency in reporting. SB 2203 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) does not address title insurance rate making at all, but mimics the other regulatory cleanup proposals in Muñoz’s bill.
Read the Breaking News Alert »

Texas Counties Rally Against Statewide Court Records Portal

Note: TLTA has been following this proposed legislation closely and working with stakeholders on both sides of the issue to ensure there are no negative unintended consequences for our industry. Aaron Day, director of government affairs and counsel for TLTA, testified at a hearing last week about this issue. The Texas Tribune covers this story in the link below.

The Texas Supreme Court, through its Office of Court Administration, has worked for years on a one-stop legal records shop. Called re:SearchTX, the project is coming out in phases, with plans to eventually provide widespread public access.
The public portal would be funded through fees that attorneys pay to use the system. It would function like PACER, a widely used federal portal that charges subscribers small fees for access.

But county and district clerks are fuming. They’re pushing to kill the project in a wonky battle involving local control and privacy concerns, multimillion-dollar contracts and confusion about how the portal would ultimately work.

Read the Texas Tribune Story »

March 8, 2017

Bill Filing Deadline Friday, March 10

The deadline for filing bills for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature is this Friday, March 10. TLTA is monitoring this very closely to see what bills of interest or concern are filed this week, including any possible additional proposals regarding our regulatory system.  We will release news about any relevant bills once they are filed.

Updated: Bills TLTA Is Following This Session

The number of bills TLTA is actively tracking has increased to 57. Check out the new updated list. The new bills and topics are in italics.

Read More »

Home Equity Reform Constitutional Amendment Filed

(Reprinted with permission from the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association)
On Tuesday, House Chairman Tan Parker filed HJR 99, the Constitutional Amendment that amends the Home Equity provisions of the Constitution. It is expected that the Senate will file a companion joint resolution sometime today or tomorrow.

HJR 99 reflects extensive work over the last year by Texas Mortgage Bankers Association, Texas Bankers Association, Independent Bankers Association of Texas, the Texas Association of Realtors and the two credit union trade associations to make some common-sense reforms to home equity lending in Texas.  
Read More »

March 1, 2017

TLTA Begins Process of Developing Legislative Positions

As many bills are still in the process of developing, TLTA has not yet taken an official position on most of the bills we are monitoring. However, there are two items on which we have taken a specific position.

Read More »

Powers of Attorney: Should Title Companies Be Required to Accept Them?
 A significant discussion currently taking place involves the question of whether financial institutions and title companies should be required to accept a durable power of attorney. These bills include HB 1974, by Sen. John Wray and SB 926, by Sen. Eddie Rodriguez.

Read More »

Feb. 22, 2017

Bills TLTA Is Following This Session

It’s less than two months into the legislative session, and more than 3,000 bills have already been filed. Lawmakers have until March 10 to file proposed legislation so that number will continue to grow. Out of those more than 3,000 bills, TLTA is currently actively following 44 bills on topics including:
  • Title insurance regulations
  • Eminent domain
  • Partition of real estate
  • Powers of attorney
  • Real estate transactions
  • Mineral interests
  • Foreclosure
  • Access to public records
  • Privacy issues
  • Franchise tax
  • Tax issues
  • Electronic filing
  • Remote e-notary
  • Sales price disclosure
TLTA has compiled a list of the bills we are actively following, a brief description and links so you can track them as well. Throughout the session, we will continue to update the status of these bills and add new ones we are tracking so you can stay informed and follow the progress of these proposed new laws that would affect your business.

See Bills We're Following »

Remote E-Notary Bill Filed in Texas – TLTA Working With Stakeholders

Rep. Tan Parker, Chairman of the Investment and Financial Services Committee, has filed HB 1217, a bill establishing the framework for remote e-notarization in Texas. The Texas Mortgage Bankers Association is championing this bill and working closely with the notary industry, the Secretary of State’s office and the title industry to craft a bill that will address the concerns of all the stakeholders. There will be subsequent revisions to the filed bill incorporating this feedback.
TMBA is also working with ALTA to take into account the feedback from the national title insurance industry, in addition to TLTA members. ALTA recently sent a letter to the National Association of Secretaries of State offering support of efforts to promote the understanding of remote electronic notarizations. The organization has also formed a work group establishing principles for legislation creating remote e-notary procedures. Additionally, the ALTA work group is currently focusing on HB 1217 as a potential model bill for the nation.
Virginia and Montana have recently enacted remote e-notarization laws that have been met with concern by the national title industry. Additionally, in many state legislatures around the country, bills have been filed to create a remote e-notary option. The goal of the current stakeholders is to craft a bill that can serve as a national model and address some of the problems identified with the new statutes in other states.
In addition, Dateline Austin published a story on Jan. 19 (second story down) about e-notaries and Texas, referencing Quicken's recent push for e-notarization.

Feb. 15, 2017

Record Numbers Attend TLTA's 2017 Day at the Capitol

More than 225 title insurance professionals – triple the usual attendance – packed the halls at the Texas Capitol for the 2017 Day at the Capitol, meeting with more than 160 legislators as well as networking with one another. This was by far the largest Day at the Capitol that TLTA has ever hosted.
“The unprecedented size of the event was great to see, and these conversations will
have a significant impact this legislative season on ensuring that Texas’ title insurance system stays safe and stable for homeowners,” said Leslie Midgley, CAE, Executive Vice President and CEO of TLTA.
Thanks again to everyone who came out to Austin and made Day at the Capitol such a huge success!
View the 2017 Day at the Capitol Photo Album on Facebook »

Real Estate Stakeholders Support TLTA and Texas Title Insurance System

On Feb. 14, a coalition of associations sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus, asking them to reject any legislation that would reverse regulation of our industry. The letter was co-signed by eight associations, including the Texas Land Title Association, the Texas Association of Realtors, the Texas Association of Builders, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association, the Texas Bankers Association, Independent Bankers Association of Texas and the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association.

Read More »

Read the Full Text of the Letter »

Feb. 9, 2017

House Committee Assignments Announced

Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced committee assignments today for the Texas House of Representatives. The Insurance committee appointments are particularly important, as that is the committee that hears title insurance bills. It is worth noting that the chair and the committee member makeup of that committee are significantly different than last session. Other bills that we follow are typically heard in the Business and Industry committee or the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee. Below is a link to view the makeup of all the committees.

Business and Industry

Chair: René Oliveira
Vice-Chair: Hugh Shine
Seniority appointments: Nicole Collier and Hugh Shine
Speaker appointments: Ramon Romero, Jr., Jonathan Stickland, Jason Villalba and Paul Workman

Insurance Committee

Chair: Larry Phillips
Vice-Chair: Sergio Muñoz, Jr.
Seniority appointments: Scott Sanford, Chris Turner and Hubert Vo
Speaker appointments: Rodney Anderson, Lance Gooden, Tom Oliverson and Dennis Paul

Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee

Chair: John Smithee
Vice-Chair: Jessica Farrar
Seniority appointments: Jodie Laubenberg, Matt Rinaldi and Mike Schofield
Speaker appointments: Roland Gutierrez, Ana Hernandez, Andrew Murr and Victoria Neave
Read the full list of House committee assignments.

Read Dateline Austin's Jan. 25 article with the full list of Senate committee assignments.

Feb. 8, 2017

Gov. Abbott Announces Priorities

This week, TLTA will cover Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature.

Read More »

Feb. 1, 2017

Most of our correspondence so far about the legislative session has been focused on the attack on our industry’s regulatory system. In this week's Legislative Update, however, we're covering TLTA's affirmative legislative agenda for the 85th session of the Texas Legislature, as well as other issues we expect to see come up this session. We anticipate a very busy session with many bills that we will be actively working on or monitoring. As always, our goal is to support legislation that promotes efficient real estate commerce and oppose or work with the authors to amend legislation that does the opposite. We will keep you updated as bills of interest get filed and work their way through the legislative process.

TLTA's Affirmative Agenda for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature

TLTA will be seeking the introduction and passage of a bill that will provide a statutory means of adversely possessing real property against co-tenants; currently, no such mechanism exists. The need for such a path was discovered when lower-income individuals and families could not obtain disaster relief assistance from the federal government because they could not prove up their property ownership.
Read More »