TLTA Emerges From Session Victorious, Our Safe and Stable System Preserved

By TLTA Staff
May 31, 2017

The 85th Session of the Texas Legislature concluded with Sine Die on Monday, May 29. TLTA had a very successful session, highlighted by the defeat of proposals to upend our Texas regulatory system and the passage of all of our affirmative agenda items, as well as some very important positive amendments to bills affecting our industry. A more in-depth and comprehensive legislative report listing all bills of interest will be published after the veto period, but here's a quick recap of the bills TLTA was following and what to expect moving forward.

Victory in Attack on Safe, Stable Title Insurance System  

TLTA can now confidently announce that our industry has emerged from this long and challenging session victorious over those special interests who proposed to dismantle our Texas title system.  

As reported on April 26 in Dateline Austin, the hearing on HB 4239 – a bill that proposed to upend our stable rate system – received a lineup of expert title industry witnesses, who stated that it would increase costs for Texas homeowners, reduce competition by shuttering small businesses and increase risks and claims. The hearing drew a large crowd, with 142 people signing in as witnesses, the vast majority of whom registered in opposition. After hearing almost two hours of testimony, including extensive questioning by the committee members, HB 4239 was left pending, was never brought up for a vote, and eventually died in committee.  

In addition, as reported on May 17, SB 372 by Sen. Bob Hall, that proposed a file-and-use rating system, was never set for a hearing by the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce.  

Finally, SB 2203 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, dealing with disclosure and reporting in title insurance, was left pending in the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce.   

We are extraordinarily pleased with this outcome and very grateful for the work and support of the TLTA membership in achieving this critical victory. 

TLTA's Affirmative Agenda – One Bill Becomes Law, Other Pending Governor's Signature
 
SB 1955 – a bill clarifying the lis pendens expungement statute so it can be relied upon by title agents and insurers – was signed into law on Friday, May 19. It had the honor of being one of the first 40 bills signed by Gov. Abbott. The bill was the result of a TLTA Board of Directors' decision made just a few days before the bill filing deadline in response to a case being heard in the Texas Supreme Court and concern about its potential outcome. Sen. Bryan Hughes graciously agreed to file the bill on the deadline. Rep. John Wray agreed to do the same, championing the Senate bill through the House process and helping to send it to the governor over the weekend. TLTA is extremely grateful to both of these legislators for their responsiveness and leadership.  

SB 1249, which relates to adverse possession amongst co-tenant heirs, passed the House on May 24 and is headed to the governor's desk. This bill was drafted a few sessions ago by TLTA volunteers Richard Black and Roland Love at the behest of Sen. West who learned of the fate of many rural and inner city lower income individuals and families who could not receive Disaster Relief Assistance because they could not prove up title. After the bill failed to pass two sessions in a row on its own devices, TLTA made it a priority this session by adding it to its affirmative agenda. If the governor signs the bill, individuals and family members will now be able to adversely possess against co-tenants who are no longer in the picture. Often, property is passed down informally generation after generation and clear title is no longer possessed by a single or few individuals. Under the process outlined in the bill, clear title can now be achieved after a certain period of time. This will further bolster certainty in the Texas title system as this new mechanism becomes available and is implemented. TLTA is grateful for the leadership of Sen. West for initiating the discussion and filing the bill in the Senate and for Rep. Schofield for filing and championing the bill in the House.

Read the Rest of the May 31 Legislative Update »