August 2008


REGULATORY NEWS

Corrections to Some Statistical Reports Needed

Please Respond Quickly So Data Can Be Used for Rate Hearing
TDI is compiling all the information collected in the 2007 Statistical Reports. According to TDI, they are in the process of sending some reports back to companies for corrections or clarifications. If your company receives such a request from TDI, we urge you to respond quickly. This data is necessary for the upcoming Rate Hearing.

Rule and Rate Hearing Agenda Items

 Please Review and Provide Input
The TLTA Regulatory Committee met to review all of the agenda items for the Rule and Rate Hearings and they will meet again later this month to finalize their recommendations to the TLTA Board.  In the meantime, the committee is working with the authors of the various agenda items on perfecting amendments.  We urge you to take time to review all the agenda items and provide us with your input so that it can be taken into consideration as we formulate our positions.  For your convenience, we have organized and summarized the agenda items on our Web site.  There, you can also find the original filings for each agenda item.

There are 54 rulemaking agenda items and 12 ratemaking agenda items.  Many of these items are not controversial; however, there are several items which are of concern to our membership.  Of particular note, are the ratemaking items put forth by OPIC and TDI.  OPIC proposes the instituting of a "file and use" system in Texas for Title Insurance in agenda Items 2008-58 and 2008-59.  This proposal represents a dramatic change to how TDI would set rates by replacing our promulgated rate system with the system employed in other insurance regulatory schemes.  Additionally, TDI proposes a premium credit for exclusion of or general exception for minerals coverage in Item 2008-66.  TDI also proposes changes to P-24 in agenda item 2008-45.  After the Board has established positions on all the items, we will publish those on our Web site and update you in our newsletters.   

The Biennial Rule Hearing to begin on October 2, 2008 at 9:30 a.m. and the Biennial Rate Hearing to begin on November 18, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.

 Both hearings will be held in Room 100 of the William P. Hobby, Jr. State Office Building, 333 Guadalupe Street in Austin.  If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Day, Director of Government Relations at aaron@tlta.com or 512.810.8800.

Minerals Coverage Update

As reported in a recent Breaking News, TDI held a Minerals Coverage Hearing on July 15. At the conclusion of the hearing, TDI Commissioner Mike Geeslin placed the hearing into recess for at least 60 days and asked that all interested parties work together in the interim to seek any possible solutions to the issue. In response to the Commissioner's request, TLTA held a stakeholder's meeting on August 6 and will continue our dialogue with all interested parties. The TLTA staff felt very positive about what the group was able to accomplish by having a thorough discussion of all sides of the issue. The TLTA Minerals Task Force reconvened this week to review the feedback from stakeholders at the meeting and to work on ways to resolve those concerns. They will continue their work with the goal of making a recommendation back to the TLTA Board of Directors in the very near future. We will keep you updated as this process continues. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Leslie Midgley, Executive Vice President or Aaron Day, Director of Government Affairs.

TDI Press Release: TDI Takes Action to Secure United Title

August 7, 2008
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has placed United Title of Texas under a Hazardous Financial Condition Order after the entity's parent company shut down the operation without notice to regulators, consumers or employees on July 29. The Hazardous Financial Condition Order prevents United Title from releasing any escrow funds without first determining that all funds and files for pending closing are accurately accounted for. More story.

LEGISLATIVE NEWS

TLTA Legislative Committee Update

The TLTA Legislative Committee, Chaired by Roland Love, met on August 7 to discuss potential legislative initiatives as well as areas of concern where TLTA will spend time and resources defending our industry during the 81st Legislative Session. The committee worked to prioritize among the various issues important to our membership and will make a recommendation for a legislative agenda at the Board's October meeting.
July 1 Basic Manual Updates Now Available 
Become a Subscriber and Save $$$
The July 1, 2008 effective updates to the Basic Manual (changes relating to P-24) resulting from the 2006 Biennial Hearing are available. If you did not order the May 1, 2008 updates, the easiest and most cost-effective way to update your Basic Manual is to sign up for our annual subscription service. Not only will you save money but you will automatically receive all updates throughout the rest of the year. Click here to subscribe to this valuable service. Additionally, the Basic Manual is updated on the TLTA Web site.

Personal Property Title Insurance Update 

(Basic Manual Section VIII)
TLTA has been informed that several motions of hearing have been filed with TDI regarding the published rates for the business of personal property insurance of the Basic Manual. The filing of these motions, in turn, makes the initial effective date of July 2 not final. With this new information, TLTA will wait to publish the rates upon finalization from TDI. Click here to order your new Section VIII binder today.  Click here to view Section VIII.

TLTAPAC UPDATE

Record TLTA Board Donations Raised in July

During the Summer TLTA Board of Directors meeting, we had an opportunity to discuss the importance of the TLTAPAC and would like to thank our Board of Directors and committee chairs for donating a record amount over $12,000. Additionally, as various TLTA committees have met and online contributions have picked up, members have followed suit with the current total PAC money raised to date standing at over $27,000. With the Texas Legislative Session around the corner and the potential affect of November's national election on some state races, the PAC contributions from our members are now more important than ever and we thank the TLTA leadership for their support for our advocacy efforts.

Are You in the Centennial Club?  Back the PAC Today!

It is the beginning of a new year for the TLTAPAC and we want to invite you to contribute today and assist us in supporting candidates and elected officials who fight for our common business interests by making a personal contribution to the PAC.  In celebration of 100 years of service to the Texas title industry, the TLTAPAC has created the Centennial Club which recognizes those who have given $100 or more during 2008.  As a Centennial Club member you will be included on a commemorative plaque displayed in the TLTA office and recognized with a special ribbon at TLTA events.   Each member's contribution strengthens the voice of TLTA and the title industry.  Make your voice heard by contributing today! 

Announcing the 2008 Annual TLTAPAC Online Auction -- November 6 - 13
Now Accepting Auction Item Donations! 

The TLTABay Online Auction is a fundraiser benefiting the TLTAPAC. The auction will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 6, 2008 and end at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, 2008. Thanks to our members, the Annual TLTABay Online Auction raised a record amount last year. We need your help to secure auction items to ensure another spectacular year. Deadline for donated items is October 1. Suggested donation items include: electronics, gift cards, sporting event tickets, travel vouchers, vacations, spa packages and jewelry. Contact Megan Haywood for more information and to pledge a donation.

FEDERAL NEWS

RESPA Update 

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa and Rep. Judy Biggert, with much help from ALTA and TLTA, secured the last of the signatures for their letter urging the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to withdraw its proposed RESPA rule and enter into a joint rulemaking process with the Federal Reserve Board.  A total of 244 lawmakers in the US House of Representatives signed the letter. Many thanks go to TLTA's Legislative Counsel in Washington, Jim Hyland, who has worked very hard to deliver the Texas delegation with much success.  More story.

HUD Won't Withdraw Proposed RESPA Rule Changes

August 21, 2008
Inman News
The Department of Housing and Urban Development says it's willing to modify, but not withdraw, a proposal to overhaul loan disclosure forms and revamp rules governing the provision of settlement services -- resisting calls by industry groups and a majority of members of the House of Representatives to scuttle the plan.  Click here to read the story. 

Bush Signs Housing Bill to Provide Mortgage Relief

09:47 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Bush on Wednesday signed a massive housing bill intended to provide mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling homeowners and stabilize financial markets. Click here to read the story.

Senate Banking Committee Reviews "State of the Insurance Industry: Examining the Current Regulatory and Oversight Structure"

Last month, Congress continued to hold hearings on legislation that would provide an optional federal charter for insurance. S 40 was introduced in March 2007 by Sen. John Sunnunu (R-NH) and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD). To date, they are the only co-sponsors. The Senate hearing included all the major interest groups including the insurance agents, consumer groups and the insurance commissioners. More story.

Letter from ALTA CEO Kurt Pfotenhauer Addresses Escrow Account Safety in Light of Recent Bank Failures

In light of recent bank failures, ALTA wrote a letter to FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair asking what happens to good funds deposited in a title agency's escrow account in the event of a bank failure. Click here to read the ALTA letter.

ALTA's TitleNews: "The US Housing Market's Perfect Storm"

Leading housing economists talk about the state of the market and when we might see recovery. More story.