January 23, 2019

In This Issue:

  • Legislative Update: Senate Committee Assignments, Senate Finance Hearings Begin, Bill Tracking and More From the 86th Session of the Texas Legislature
  • CFPB Director Says Bureau Will Examine TRID Effectiveness
  • Texas Attorney General Opinion Regarding Electronic Signatures Supports TLTA's Pursuit of Remote Online Notary Clarification at Texas Legislature
  • 106th Congress Sees 10 New Members From Texas, Changes on Key Committees
  • FHFA Will Not Defend Its Constitutionality in Court

Legislative Update

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the Senate's committee assignments last week, and the Senate's Finance Committee has already started meeting. For our industry, key Senate committees include Business and Commerce and State Affairs. Like last session, the Senate has created a special property tax committee charged with managing one of the session's most talked about issues - property tax relief. There's news that the chairmanship of the Senate's Agriculture Committee is changing.

Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen announced House committee assignments today. For our industry, key House committees include Insurance, Business and Industry, Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, and State Affairs. To see who was assigned to these key committees, here's the list of House assignments sorted by committee.

More than 1,400 bills have been filed on a wide variety of issues that could impact our industry or industry partners. Staff at TLTA are currently monitoring the development of these bills.

Additionally, TLTA's legislative team is working to advance our Legislative Agenda for the 86th Session. Our priorities include maintaining Texas’ successful title insurance system, modernizing the Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association and clarifying the Remote Online Notary (RON) statute approved last session.

Please make a plan to join us for TLTA's Day at the Capitol in Austin Feb. 12-13. We'll go office to office at the state Capitol, sharing our industry's powerful story with legislators, staff and other influencers. Register today.

CFPB Director Says Bureau Will Examine TRID Effectiveness

ALTA | Jan. 17, 2019
The new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) indicated the bureau plans to examine how title fees are disclosed under the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule.
In a letter to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger said the bureau shares the congressman’s goal that consumers should receive clear and accurate information regarding the cost of their real estate transactions.

Hoeven and other senators informed Director Kraninger in a December letter that under current regulation, the CFPB does not allow title insurance companies to disclose available discounts for loan policies on the government mandated disclosures. This results in the inaccurate disclosure of title insurance premiums in about half of the states.
Director Kraninger indicated that under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB is required to assess significant rules it issues and publish a report on its findings within five years of the rule’s effective date. In her letter, Kraninger wrote that the bureau plans to launch an assessment of the TRID rule, “which will provide an opportunity for the bureau to study whether the rule has been effective in achieving its stated purposes.”
“This assessment includes assuring that consumers are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions about financial transactions,” Kraninger wrote.
EDITOR'S NOTE:  When asked about the chances that TRID changes are on the horizon, Kraninger has indicated that potential changes may not occur before 2020, when CFPB will be required by statute to measure the rule's efficacy. 

Texas Attorney General Opinion Regarding Electronic Signatures Supports TLTA's Pursuit of Remote Online Notary Statute Clarification at Texas Legislature

TLTA | Jan. 22, 2019
Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion answering questions from the Guadalupe County Clerk’s office regarding the acceptance of electronic signatures. This question has become increasingly important due to the new Remote Online Notary statute and subsequent rule making from the Secretary of State’s office. 
In his opinion, General Paxton noted that a document with an electronic signature that is not electronically filed but offered in a printed-out document for recordation in a county without e-filing is neither a copy or a paper document according to the statute.  
This opinion underscores the need to address how electronic documents containing electronic signatures can be printed out and recorded in the land records in counties without electronic filing. Pursuing clarification of the statute at the Texas Legislature is part of TLTA's Legislative Agenda for the current legislative session.

106th Congress Sees 10 New Members From Texas, Changes on Key Committees

James E. Hyland, TLTA Federal Legislative Counsel | Jan. 21, 2019
The 116 Congress will have ten new members from Texas, which means that close to a third of Texas’ congressional delegation are freshmen. The House changing hands from Democrat to Republican also scrambles the seniority of many of our members on key committees.
Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, retired. Joining that committee this year, however, are former Democrat state Sen. Sylvia Garcia and former Republican state Rep. Lance Gooden, who took Hensarling's Congressional seat. Both have been friends of the title industry during their tenure in Austin. They will join the three Texans already on the committee: Democrat Congressmen Al Green of Houston, Vincente Gonzalez of McAllen, and Republican Roger Williams of Austin.

Jodey Arrington, a Republican of Lubbock serving in his second term will join the Ways and Means Committee. He joins Texans Kevin Brady of the Woodlands—who remains the top Republican on the committee—and Kenny Marchant of Irving.  The lone Democrat on the committee, Lloyd Doggett of Austin, will nevertheless chair a key subcommittee on health.
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FHFA Will Not Defend Its Constitutionality in Court

HousingWire | Jan. 21, 2019
The Federal Housing Finance Agency revealed it will no longer defend its own structure, calling itself unconstitutional.

Back in July, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the federal government’s regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is not constitutionally structured. The FHFA ruling deals with the agency’s leadership structure and whether a single director that wields as much authority as the FHFA director is a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers.

Then in August, the FHFA appealed this ruling under former FHFA Director Mel Watt, petitioning for a rehearing en banc, meaning it wanted the entire court to hear the case.  

But Watt’s term recently expired, and a new director is stepping up to the helm. Going forward, the FHFA will be led by Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who was picked by President Donald Trump to serve as acting director of the FHFA while Mark Calabria is awaiting Senate confirmation to replace Watt on a permanent basis.

And now, Otting is moving a different direction, telling the court that the FHFA is under new leadership, and will no longer defend its structure. In a filing to the fifth circuit, Otting urged the court to dismiss the case and leave the previous judgment intact.

TLTA has scheduled a variety of live webinars for 2019! Register now, or explore our library of more than 80 On-Demand webinars and videos covering the title industry topics you need!