March 17, 2021

In This Issue:

  • TLTA Legislative Update
  • TDI Publishes 2018 Agent Statistical Report
  • Mineral Owner vs. Solar Company: New Texas Case Addresses Key Issue
  • Virtual Closings and the Importance of Title Insurance: Q&A With ALTA's Diane Tomb
  • FinCEN Issues Advisory on the Financial Action Task Force-Identified Jurisdictions with Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Deficiencies
  • Texas Title Agent Essentials for Avoiding Audit Disasters – New Webinar – March 23

TLTA Legislative Update

TLTA | March 17, 2021
We received good news this week: TLTA's affirmative legislative priority, SB 885 related to the statute of limitations for quitclaims, was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee, which is chaired by the bill's author, Sen. Bryan Hughes. Learn more about Sen. Hughes' Quitclaim bill. We've requested a committee hearing for this bill, and we're grateful the chairman is leading the charge on this good public policy. 
In addition to the affirmative legislative agenda item listed above, our legislative team are monitoring 149 of the more than 7,000 bills filed this session. Review a list and description of the proposed pieces of legislation we are monitoring. TLTA's Board of Directors met recently and took positions on some of the legislation we are monitoring:
  • HB 2240: TLTA will maintain a neutral position on this bill related to change in the definition of good funds, as long as the committee substitute contains key features agreed to by stakeholders.
  • HB 1679: TLTA will maintain a neutral position on this bill, which provides that a mechanic’s lien can survive a foreclosure up to the retainage amount.
  • HB 2825: TLTA will oppose this bill related to certain transactions involving real property located near military bases.
  • Various bills related to racial covenants, including SB 30: TLTA will maintain a neutral position on the various bills designed to redress the existence of racial covenants in the real property record. TLTA's legislative team will seek to mitigate unintended consequences where possible.
The electricity outages that occurred during winter storm Uri continue to dominate the legislative and political discussions at the Capitol and around the state. The outcome of the complex debate surrounding this issue will impact the fate of many pieces of legislation this session, as it has created a rift between the Texas Senate and House, as well as leaving the PUC and ERCOT without appointed executive leadership.  
Only 74 days remain in the 87th Legislative Session, but special sessions are expected due to redistricting and other issues. 

TLTA's legislative priorities

Our legislative priorities for the 87th Legislative Session were approved by TLTA's Board of Directors as recommended by our Legislative Committee, which is chaired by Steve Streiff. TLTA is seeking passage of two statutory changes that would improve real estate transactions:
Next steps for both pieces of these TLTA affirmative legislative agenda items start with securing committee hearings.

Bills we are monitoring

We are currently tracking the following 149 bills of interest. If these bills begin to move through the process and TLTA takes official positions on them, we’ll provide more detailed information about our stance and how they might affect you and your business.

Questions about TLTA's legislative process and how you can get involved?

 The TLTA Legislative Committee, our Local Legislative Liaisons, our Grassroots Network and our PAC Board of Governors are all part of our team of engaged legislative advocates. Learn More About TLTA's Legislative Process and How You Can Get Involved »

TDI Publishes 2018 Agent Statistical Report

TLTA | March 16, 2021
The Texas Department of Insurance has published their Title Insurance Agent Experience Report Compilation for 2018.
Texas Insurance Code §2703.153 requires each title insurance company and title insurance agent engaged in the business of title insurance in Texas to annually submit business data to TDI. TDI uses this data to set title insurance premium rates. This report was completed with data generated during calendar year 2018. 
TDI's collection of 2019 statistical data will probably be conducted sometime this spring. We remain in close communication with TDI about this, and as soon as the 2019 data call is issued you’ll receive notification from us.
Read the 2018 Agent Statistical Report »
This Report Is Also Available as an Excel File »

Mineral Owner vs. Solar Company: New Texas Case Addresses Key Issue

JDSupra | Feb. 24, 2021
A recent Texas case, Lyle v. Midway Solar, S.W. 3d, 2020 WL 7769632 (Tex. App. Ct., El Paso 83rd Dist. 2020), addressed a challenge that many solar developers wrestle with: how to handle minerals owners. The El Paso Court of Appeals clarified this complex issue and demonstrated the importance of properly addressing the minerals on a site prior to developing a project.

Read More »
TLTA Editor's Note – Leslie Johnson, chair of TLTA's Judiciary Committee, offered the following takeaways for the title industry from this article:
This case is a good reminder that the accommodation doctrine is a common law principle. Therefore, it will not apply if the express terms of the parties’ deed or contract determines the parties’ rights as to the mineral and/or surface estate. So remember to look to the terms of the deed severing or conveying the mineral interest before relying on the accommodation doctrine in assessing the risk from future mineral development or exploration.
The case also highlights the risks attendant in developing solar projects (or any large-scale surface use) without fully addressing the property’s mineral ownership and interests, even where there is no current mineral development. But notably, the court of appeals held that there must be at least an attempt to develop or access the minerals before the mineral estate owner can suffer damages due to the surface use or force the surface owner or lessee to yield to the mineral estate.
However, this may not be the final word on these issues, as the parties have until April 19, 2021 to file a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court.


Virtual Closings and the Importance of Title Insurance: Q&A With ALTA's Diane Tomb

BankRate | March 15, 2021
The pandemic has accelerated a move to allow homebuyers to close the deal virtually, and the hot housing market has underscored the important role title insurance plays in protecting those buyers.
This week, Bankrate spoke to Diane Tomb, CEO of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), to hear about the shifting homebuying landscape and the post-pandemic outlook for these trends. 
Read More »

FinCEN Issues Advisory on the Financial Action Task Force-Identified Jurisdictions with Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Deficiencies

U.S. Treasury - Financial Crimes Enforcement Network | March 11, 2021
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is issuing this advisory to inform financial institutions of updates to the FATF list of jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) and counter-proliferation financing deficiencies. 
Read the Advisory »

Texas Title Agent Essentials for Avoiding Audit Disasters –  New Webinar – March 23

Much-needed review for experienced title agents. Necessary, thorough introduction for new title agents. 

This information-packed webinar, Texas Title Agent Essentials for Avoiding Audit Disasters, explores all essential knowledge needed for succeeding and staying in compliance with Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) requirements, providing a much-needed review for experienced title agents, as well as a necessary and thorough introduction for new title agents. 
Details related to important rules for handling money will be presented through an inclusive review of accounting principles and practices, minimum escrow accounting standards, proper use of dummy files and more. Particulars of the Closing Disclosure and the Texas Disclosure will also be discussed related to when to use them, how to use them and other commonly asked questions. Additionally, webinar instructors will also present an overview of the administrative rules most commonly found non-compliant during a TDI audit, such as wind down plans and escrow audit reports.
Tuesday, March 23 - 10 a.m.
1.5 hrs Escrow
Register Now » 

In addition to live webinars held throughout the year, you have access to our library of more than 80 On-Demand webinars and videos  covering the title industry topics you need to earn continuing education credits and stay ahead of the curve on the latest industry trends!