April 3, 2019

In This Issue:

  • Legislative Update: Steve Streiff Testifies on Priority Legislation, State Budget Advances, Property Tax Relief, and More
  • Property Tax Reform Bills Get a New Spark of Life in the Texas Legislature
  • New TDI Reports Available Online Include Data on Agents, Underwriters and Licensed Title Professionals
  • Why All Guarantors Must Serve a National Market
  • Marijuana Banking Bill Approved By Congressional Committee

Legislative Update

HB 1833—TLTA priority legislation related to certificates of authority for entities—was heard in the House Business and Industry Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Wray laid out the bill, noting that passage of the legislation would help small business. TLTA Board Member Steve Streiff testified in support of HB 1833. It was left pending, as expected. 

TLTA Board Member Steve Streiff testifies in support of HB 1833

We continue to monitor the identical bills (SB 1062/HB 3228) filed by Chairman Hancock and Rep. Muñoz that would empower any interested person to compel the Commissioner of Insurance to initiate a title insurance premium rate hearing. These bills have not advanced, nor have they secured co-authors. Likewise, Sen. Taylor's SB 1437 relating to easements to be included in title commitments remains waiting in committee, where it was when we last reported on it. Your TLTA legislative staff and lobby team continue visiting with all three of these members, their staff, and committee staff to address our concerns with their legislation.
We also continue monitoring the development of these 77 bills and other issues that could impact our industry or industry partners. 
After more than 11 hours of debate and amendments, the Texas House passed their version of the state budget (HB 1) early Thursday morning. An additional $9 billion in state funding for public education was approved, with $3 billion of that amount assigned to property tax relief. The Senate Finance Committee meets today to vote out their own version of the budget, and they have indicated that their plan will include an additional $9 billion in public education funding. 
After the House finished its work on the budget, the House Ways and Means committee met and voted out HB 2, which would cap city and county property tax growth. The Senate version of this legislation (SB 2) could be heard on the Senate floor as early as this week. 
Today, the Texas House will debate that chamber's school finance reform and property tax relief bill (HB 3).
Elsewhere in the Texas Legislature this week, the regulation of short term rentals, cannabis law reform, free speech protections and hundreds of other bills are being vigorously debated Capitol-wide.
Only 54 days remain until the 86th Session of the Texas Legislature adjourns Sine Die. 

Property Tax Reform Bills Get a New Spark of Life in the Texas Legislature

Houston Chronicle | March 29, 2019
Property tax reform plans in the Texas Legislature showed their first flickers of life in more than a month, but that doesn’t necessarily mean lawmakers have resolved major hurdles in their push to give homeowners a break from ever-increasing tax bills.

One complication came up just after 1:30 a.m. Thursday, when a Texas House committee completely rewrote a property tax relief plan, creating a wide divide between the House and Senate.

Both the House and Senate plans still call for preventing cities and counties from increasing property tax revenues more than 2.5 percent per year without a vote of the people — a measure vehemently opposed by most cities and counties. Both plans also include measures for softening the impact on small municipalities and districts. But from there, the bills diverge. The Senate has wanted the limit to also apply to school districts, while the House bill now excludes them. Instead, the House wants to use a separate bill on school finance reform to send $2.7 billion to schools to reduce property tax bills but without the cap.
Read More »

New TDI Reports Available Online Include Data on Agents, Underwriters and Licensed Title Professionals

TLTA | April 2, 2019
The Texas Department on Insurance is hosting a new collection of reports on their website related to all the lines of insurance under their jurisdiction. Among the reports are title industry-specific information on the following:
  • Licensed Title Agents/Direct Operations by County (Sorting by county capability)
  • Licensed Title Agents/Direct Operations by County
  • Licensed Escrow Officers
  • Underwriter Report (Active Title Agents with Counties)
  • Licensed Title Agents/Direct Operations and DBA names
  • Individual Escrow Officer Information
  • Title Agent Information
Access the Reports »

Why All Guarantors Must Serve a National Market

MReport | March 27, 2019
The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held the second part of its hearing on Committee Chairman Mike Crapo’s Housing Finance Reform outline last week. Testimonies by mortgage banking and housing experts gave further insights into the best way forward to strengthen and implement this outline.
“Today, the Committee continues the conversation about the state of our housing finance system, and how we can set it on a permanent, sustainable course that protects taxpayers and fosters greater competition,” Sen. Mike Crapo, said in his opening statement.
Giving his insights on the outline, Michael Bright, President and CEO, The Structured Finance Industry Group (SFIG) and the former EVP and COO of Ginnie Mae said that the latest outline touched upon many of the principles that were important to SFIG including: creating a clear role for private capital, establishing a clear and explicitly defined role for the government, the preservation of a liquid TBA market, the preservation of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, and making use of already-existing securitization infrastructure.
“As the former head of Ginnie Mae, I can attest that global investors will allocate much more capital and at a much lower cost to the US mortgage market if Congress puts a seal of approval on a new end state,” Bright said. “One major lesson I learned at Ginnie is that, when speaking to a non-US investor, the first thing they will ask is, “Is the law clear?” Any lack of clarity on the government’s role versus private capital’s role adds ambiguity, and ambiguity adds to costs. These costs are ultimately borne by the homeowner.”
He said that while SFIG membership supported, and wanted to help provide, broader accessibility to mortgage credit throughout the country, “a role for Congress here is critical."
Read More »

Marijuana Banking Bill Approved by Congressional Committee

Forbes | March 28, 2019
A congressional committee voted on Thursday to approve legislation aimed at increasing marijuana businesses' access to banks.

Following multiple days of lengthy debate and consideration of several amendments, the House Financial Services Committee voted 45 to 15 to advance the legislation to the full body.
Floor action has not yet been scheduled, but cannabis reform advocates are hopeful that the committee approval of the banking bill is a sign Democrats are ready to move broad marijuana reforms this year.

Indeed, House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) said in a radio interview on Wednesday that he expects the chamber to vote on legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition within a matter of "weeks."

“We will guide it to the House floor for a vote, which I think it will pass with an overwhelming vote—Democrats and I think a lot of Republicans as well,” he said. “If we have a strong bipartisan vote that will increase the pressure on the Senate to do something.”
Read More »

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