May 24, 2017


Update on Bills and New Laws as Session Winds Down

On Thursday, May 18, the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce adopted a committee substitute with TLTA's recommended language in an amendment to HB 3107. This bill restricts access to public information requests. It was aimed at abusive practices by certain individuals, but its original language would have greatly impacted the title industry, limiting TLTA members' efforts to build and maintain title plants. The new language carves out permission for requesters who are seeking the information for "creation or maintenance of an abstract plant as described by Section 2501.004, Insurance Code." TLTA staff is grateful to Rep. Trent Ashby and Sen. Robert Nichols for accommodating the unique needs of the title industry. The bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, May 23.

Also on May 18, the Senate Committee on State Affairs adopted a committee substitute on HB 1974/SB 926, incorporating TLTA's suggestions relative to the certification of durable power of attorney. The new language includes mental capacity and absence of duress in the certification created by the statute. It also takes into account the potential need of title agents and underwriters to request evidence from a physician to determine capacity. This bill has been greatly improved since its initial draft, which would have dramatically reduced title industry members' treatment of powers of attorney and subjected them to significant liability. The bill now is quite permissive and provides several avenues to give the recipient the information they need in order to accept the power of attorney with much less potential liability for rejecting it. TLTA staff thanks Rep. John Wray and Sen. José Rodriguez for working with the title industry to address these concerns. If the bill becomes law, this complex piece of legislation will require some attention and evaluation during the interim by TLTA members.

In addition, SB 1955 was signed into law on Friday, May 19. It had the honor of being one of the first 40 bills signed by Gov. Abbott. Part of TLTA's affirmative agenda, this bill clarifies the lis pendens expungement statute so it can be relied upon by title agents and insurers.

SB 1249, which addresses adverse possession amongst co-tenant heirs, has been placed on the final Local and Consent Calendar. 
 
There has been no further progress on any of the title rate regulation bills.
 
TLTA will release a post-session recap next week. And don't miss Aaron Day's presentation at the Annual Conference and Business Meeting titled "New Legislation That Affects You!" as well as the Debrief by Aaron and Leslie Midgley at the Joint Section Meeting.



CFPB News: Consumer Survey: Voters Say CFPB Should Be Run by a Bipartisan Commission, Court of Appeals Set to Hear Landmark Challenge to CFPB Constitutionality

The highly contested leadership structure of the CFPB should be a bipartisan commission if it was up to voters to decide. ALTA, the Consumer Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America teamed up to commission a Morning Consult poll of registered voters in key battleground states, including Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia. The Morning Consult conducted the online survey of 6,132 registered voters from May 3-16, 2017.
 
Read "Consumer Survey: Voters Say CFPB Should Be Run by a Bipartisan Commission" (HousingWire) »
 
In addition, the CFPB's moment of truth (in the courtroom, at least) is coming this week as the full Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is set to rehear the landmark challenge to the agency’s constitutionality brought by PHH Corp. On Wednesday, both the CFPB and PHH will make their case before the full Court of Appeals, which agreed to rehear the court’s October decision that declared the CFPB’s leadership structure unconstitutional by a 2-1 vote and vacated a $100 million fine levied by the CFPB against PHH.
 
Read "Court of Appeals Set to Hear Landmark Challenge to CFPB Constitutionality" (HousingWire) »

Dodd-Frank News: McConnell Is Pessimistic Congress Will Overhaul Dodd-Frank

Bloomberg Politics | May 16, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s pessimistic Congress will overhaul the Dodd-Frank Act because he doubts Republicans can secure enough Democratic votes to make major changes to the sweeping legislation that tightened oversight of banks after the financial crisis.
 
“I’d love to do something about Dodd-Frank, particularly with regard to community banks but that would require Democratic involvement,” Kentucky’s McConnell told Bloomberg News in an interview Tuesday, May 16. “I’m not optimistic.”
 
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GSE News: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Expects GSEs to Continue Paying Dividend, May Face Fight Over Fannie-Freddie

On Thursday, May 18, U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. During the hearing, Domestic International Policy Update, Mnuchin explained his thoughts on housing and reforming the government-sponsored enterprises. The secretary explained that while GSE reform has yet to be a priority for the administration, that would change in the second half of the year.

Read "Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Expect GSEs to Continue Paying Dividend" (HousingWire) »

In addition, some consider Mnuchin to be on a collision course with the U.S. regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after telling lawmakers that he expects the mortgage-finance giants to continue paying dividends to the government. His comments at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday, May 18, came a week after Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt told the panel that he might tell the companies to withhold money to build buffers against potential future losses.

Read "Mnuchin May Face Fight With Watt Over Fannie-Freddie Dividends" (Bloomberg) »

PACE News: Carson Signals FHA Policy Shift on PACE Loans

ABA Banking Journal | May 16, 2017
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson signaled today that the administration may revisit an Obama-era policy on Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, loans, a controversial financial product that allows homeowners to pay for energy-efficient retrofitting — such as solar panels and high-efficiency air conditioners — through their property tax assessments.
 
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Cyber Crime News: Getting Staff to Take Cyber Security Seriously

CNet | May 18, 2017
Common sense only goes so far, and you need to make sure that best practices around security don't go in one ear and out the other.
 
Cybercriminals are taking special aim at small businesses. About 18 percent of phishing campaigns targeted small businesses in 2011; the number has since soared to more than 43 percent of the total with phishing now the main vehicle for delivering ransomware and malware attacks.
 
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TLTA has scheduled several live webinars for spring and summer 2017. Register now, or reserve your On-Demand version today!