Dear TLTA members,

First, congratulations to everyone for making it through 2020 and surviving the year-end push that we all saw in December. Once again, we closed the last of our deals late in the afternoon/early evening on the 31st, went home for the night and awoke the next day to a new year – a new year and a new beginning. 

It is without a doubt that the collective experiences and the lessons we learned as a society in 2020 will forever change the world we live in. In 2020 the world was thrown a COVID-19 curve ball that no one could have seen coming. Unlike this time last year, today “social distancing” is a word used daily and every car, desk, purse and pocket carries a mask. Because of COVID-19, entire industries had to change how they conduct business, including our own. Airlines, restaurants and bars, hotels, sporting events and concert venues are just a few of the industries that may never be the same as we knew them pre-COVID. Individually and as an industry, we embraced change and aggressively pursued solutions to overcome the obstacles created by the pandemic, all in an effort to keep real estate transactions closing without delay. For this, we should all be proud. 

If COVID-19 wasn’t enough, 2020 also gave us a presidential election unlike any we have seen before. Who could have predicted the controversy and sensationalism that we saw this election cycle? In a historic inauguration, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have now taken their seats in Washington D.C. The political events of 2020 were nothing short of a made-for-TV drama with all the twists and turns we would expect from a good episode of Designated Survivor. The political divide grew wide in 2020. I pray for our country that this political divide is bridged in 2021 and we see folks from both sides of the aisle come together for the health and well-being of every American. Regardless of what side of the aisle you stand on, we must be unified as a country. 

I am pleased to report that TLTA's various committees have continued their good work over the tumultuous past few months:

The Legislative Committee  developed our industry's affirmative agenda for the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature, which is in session now. If you are unfamiliar with TLTA's legislative process and how you can get involved as we manage our industry's crucial interactions with state legistors, you can learn more here. Speaking of the legislators who govern our regulated industry, our 2020 TLTAPAC fundraising team did a phenomenal job raising funds in a short amount of time. Thank you to all of you who invested in our PAC in 2020. Don't forget we are actively raising funds for 2021 and you can contribute now.  

The Regulatory Committee  has been hard at work too assembling an informal proposal of rule changes for the staff at the Texas Department of Insurance. Many thanks to Roland Love for the countless hours he has put into this process. Roland’s effort should be applauded!

The Basic Manual Task Force  continues its diligent work on the plain language rewrite of the Basic Manual, meeting every month to arduously hammer out agreeable plain language. It's hard to explain the nuances of this rewrite process. Let’s just say it’s tedious and time consuming and requires the scrutiny and input of every member of the committee. Unfortunately, this process results in the need for lengthy discussions about minor topics, sometimes spending hours discussing a single sentence. As an example, this week we spent our 3rd (or possibly 4th) meeting discussing and revisiting Rate Rule R-22. Even though the process is slow, I'm confident that the end result will be a well-organized, coherent, easy to understand Basic Manual of Title Insurance.

The Judiciary Committee  is hard at work these days fielding numerous requests from our industry partners for amicus briefs. And, our Webinar and School committees continue to generate quality educational programming for our members. Watch for online TLTA Certification testing to roll out in short order, and watch for future announcements regarding our annual conference.

In 2020 we started the Virtual Town Hall Insights Series to bring industry-related content and TLTA updates to our membership. So far, we learned comforting news from Glenn Hegar, the Comptroller of the State of Texas, regarding the overall state of the Texas economy. Lawrence Yun from the National Association of Realtors presented his economic outlook on the national real estate market, and Scott Norman from the Texas Association of Builders shared his thoughts on the state of home building in Texas. Please RSVP now and make a plan to join us tomorrow, Tuesday February 2 at 2:00 p.m. for the next installment of our Insights Series. We are pleased to be joined by Evan Smith, CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. As many of you already know, Evan always brings an energetic, entertaining and informative update on the political landscape and other issues affecting the great State of Texas. Evan is someone you definitely don’t want to miss.

I am looking forward to a brisk real estate market in 2021 and hope that each of you will enjoy strong activity in your market throughout the year. Stay safe and healthy.

Respectfully,

John P. Bruce, CTIP
President
Texas Land Title Association