June 2009


REGULATORY NEWS

SOAH Postpones Rate Hearing Until September

Last week, at a pre-hearing conference at the State Office of Administrative Hearings the administrative law judges ruled on motions an objections and discussed scheduling matters. One of the motions under consideration was a motion by the Office of Public Insurance Council to compel discovery. The judges ruled in favor of OPIC making it impossible for the parties involved in the discovery to meet the scheduled date for the rate hearing which was originally scheduled to convene on June 2. Therefore, the judges rescheduled the hearing to begin on September 14, 2009 and continue throughout that week.We are disappointed by the delayed hearing, but will continue to represent your interest as we prepare for the hearing in September.

TLTA, along with other parties to the hearing (TDI, OPIC, etc.)filed statements of position after the pre-hearing conference last week. Click here to view the statements of position on our website and other rate hearing testimony.

Please contact Aaron Day, Director of Government Affairs, at Aaron@tlta.comor 512.472.6593 if you have any questions about the rate hearing.

LEGISLATIVE NEWS

81st Legislature Adjourns - Special Session A Possibility

The 81st Legislative Session came to a close on Monday evening, but it looks as if members will soon return to handle some unfinished business - specifically the sunset review of the Texas Department of Insurance and the Office of Public Insurance Council.

Last week, the end of session deadline killed the independent TDI and OPIC sunset legislation,S.B. 1007 and S.B. 1001.The House then amended the two bills to the Rep. Carl Isett's Sunset "safety net" bill H.B. 1959. If passed, H.B. 1959 would have continued TDI and OPIC for the next two years. However, on Sunday evening the clock ran out and H.B. 1959 was dead unless members took dramatic measures to take up and consider the bill on Monday. House rules state that on the 140th day of session the House be reserved for technical corrections only and to take up any other business, members must have at least a two-thirds vote.

On Monday,in a last ditch effort to save the contents of the Sunset "safety net" bill, members proposed HCR 291to amend the already approved H.B. 4583,a fiscal matters bill by Rep. Jim Pitts. HCR 291 would prevent the sunset of agencies in the coming biennium that would receive federal stimulus dollars. After a lengthy discussion in the House and a few members expressed disapproval of this procedural approach, the measure passed and was sent to the Senate for approval.

About an hour or so after the House adjourned, the Senate continued its discussion on how to deal with the House's proposal for dealing with the fix for not passing the Sunset safety net bill. Ultimately, the Senate chose to not adopt the measure and several Senators have now asked Governor Perry to call a special session so the matter might be addressed. Procedurally it is up to the Governor to determine how to proceed. In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Perry said that despite lawmakers leaving some unfinished business on the table, there's no need to call them back for a special session any time soon.

House Bill 4338 Regarding Agent Insolvency Awaiting Governor's Approval

As we reported in last week's Legislative Update, H.B. 4338 regarding agent insolvency, passed the Senate and is now awaiting the Governor's signature. If the bill is signed into law, certain elements will require a hearing at TDI. To view the final version of H.B. 4338 click here. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Day at aaron@tlta.com or 512.472.6593.

TLTA Legislative Agenda Update

There were over 7,400 bills filed during the 81st Legislative Session and 1,457 bills or 19% passed both the House and the Senate. The Governor now has until June 21, 2009 to either veto, sign or allow bills to become law without his signature. After the veto period, TLTA will release an extensive legislative report for our members providing an update on all of the legislation that will affect on our industry.

By comparison, TLTA filed 16 bills covering nine topics and we were able to successfully address eight of those issues. As of print, two of our TLTA bills have been signed into law and will take effect on September 1, 2009 and five more are awaiting the Governor's signature.S.B. 1641, our Texas Residential Construction Commission clean-up bill, was no longer necessary after the members chose to sunset TRCC and S.B. 2065, regarding foreign identification at closing, was scheduled to be heard on the House floor, but there simply wasn't enough time for members to consider all of the bills on the calendar before the end of session deadline. For a more in-depth update on the TLTA Affirmative Legislative Agenda please click here.

TLTAPAC

Four Easy Ways to Back Your PAC

Time is running out and we need your help! With only a few weeks until the end of our fiscal year, we still have$21,200 to go to meet our goal. Now is the time to take a stand, commit to protecting your industry and join your fellow PAC Supporters. Although the legislature adjourned on Monday, a special session is likely.Your contribution goes directly toward the support and education of elected officials.Don't miss this opportunity to make your voice heard -- Contribute today!

1.Dream Vacation Giveaway

2.PAC Breakfast

3.Bert Massey Classic Golf Tournament

4.Personal Donation

Back the PAC and Improve Your Handicap at the Bert Massey Classic Golf Tournament

Plan to join us on Wednesday, June 17 for the Bert Massey Classic PAC Golf Tournament and get ready to play on one of America's Best Courses, the beautiful championship Palmer Course at La Cantera. Take in the magnificent hill country vistas and have fun with friends all while supporting the important work of the TLTAPAC. Think of this as more than a way to improve your handicap - it's an investment in your business and a commitment to the future of the industry. Registration fee includes green fee, golf cart, refreshments on the course and the awards luncheon sponsored by Guaranty Bank.

Can't join us for the Golf Tournament?

There's plenty of ways to Back the PAC - sponsor one of the golf tournament holes, prizes, or make a corporate contribution. Our corporate accounts directly support our fundraising activities and the account needs replenishment.Our fundraising activities, like the Bert Massey Classic PAC Golf Tournament and TLTABay, enable us to raise individual contributions that can then be used to directly support our friends in the legislature.Back the PAC and send in your corporate donation today!

Also don't forget to register for the PAC Breakfast, sponsored by Winstead Attorneys, on Thursday, June 18! Remember your registration counts as a PAC contribution --Register Today!

Time's Running Out - Get Your Dream Vacation Giveaway Tickets Today!

Help TLTA and We'll Help You Escape With a $3,000 Travel Voucher

Only a few weeks left to sign up for the chance to win TLTAPAC's Dream Vacation Giveaway. The drawing will take place at TLTA's Annual Conference at the Westin la Cantera in San Antonio June 17-19. Don't miss out on your chance to win a$3,000 Travel Voucher courtesy of Simplifile. For your Dream Vacation Giveaway tickets, please contact any of the TLTAPAC Board of Trustees,TLTA Board of Directors, or Joey Prohaska, TLTAPAC Fundraising Chair. If you have questions or would like additional details please contact the TLTA office.

Aaron Day Wins TLTA's Race to the Finish

Four very tired feet, two trusty pedometers, and only one winner. Aaron Day and Allen Place were neck and neck all week long, but one managed to pull ahead and win this year's Race to the Finish.This year's winner is TLTA Director of Government Affairs Aaron Day, who managed to log an outstanding 15.8 miles within the Capitol building. TLTA Legislative Consultant Allen Place came in a close second with 14.2 miles. Between Aaron and Allen, the lobby team walked an amazing 30 miles in a week on the title industry’s behalf.

We want to thank everyone who participated and helped make this PAC fundraiser a success. We’re pleased to report that we’ve raised over $3600 to date and we would still be happy to take your donation after the fact!Contribute online or email Tedrah Hutchins at Tedrah@tlta.com to participate and show your support for our lobby team and the PAC!

FEDERAL NEWS

Congressman Introduces Bill to Create Office of Insurance Information

On May 22,Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) introduced H.R. 2609 creating an Office of Insurance Information within the Treasury Department. H.R. 2609 uses similar language from a previous measure introduced in 2008 Kanjorski that died on the House floor in September 2008. As proposed in H.R. 2609 the OII would collect and analyze data on insurance; advice the Treasury secretary on major domestic and international policy issues; report to Congress every two years; establish federal policy on international insurance matters; and evaluate state insurance laws for consistency with federal policy in coordinating international trade agreements. TLTA will provide an update if and when this measure develops.

Bill That Would Reopen RESPA Rule Passes House

Still Needs Senate Approval

As reported in an earlier Breaking News, the House Committee on Financial Services approved an amendment to H.R. 1728 requiring HUD and the Federal Reserve to develop a new joint RESPA rule within six months after the bill is enacted. On May 7, the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 1728, including the RESPA rule provisions as outlined in Section 106 of the bill, by a margin of 300 to 114. With 240 Democrats and 60 Republicans voting for it, the healthy bipartisan support bodes well for the Senate to consider similar legislation.

The RESPA provision in the bill postpones the current RESPA rule and provides that HUD and the Federal Reserve finalize a proposal within 12 months of finishing the new rule making. Should the two agencies not be able to agree on a proposal, they would be empowered to move forward independently after notifying Congress. Depending on when, and if, the Senate ultimately enacts this comprehensive mortgage reform legislation, a new RESPA rule could be delayed up to 18 months or longer.

Again this bill has not been heard by the Senate and is still very early in the process. TLTA will continue to actively lobby for the passage of this legislation and will update you as it progresses. Should you have any questions, contact TLTA at tlta@tlta.com or 512.472.6593.

Industry Stats

Release Date Latest Release
Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 5/28/09 4.91% +0.09%
15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 5/28/09 4.53% +0.03
10 Year Treasury Rate 6/01/09 3.71% +0.24
Existing Home Sales (in millions) 5/27/09 4.68 +2.9%
New Home Sales 5/27/09 352,000 +0.3%
Supply of Housing Inventory 5/28/09 10.1 months +0.3%
Information Provided by ALTA.

NEWS TO KNOW

ALTA Testifies Before Pennsylvania Insurance Department on Title Rates and Practices

Last Thursday, ALTA Board Member and Agent Section Chair Anne Anastasi testified on behalf of ALTA before the Pennsylvania Insurance Department on title insurance rates and practices. ALTA's testimony focused on educating the public about value of our service and responded to specific questions posed by Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario.

ALTA also released this statement to the press in response to Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett's call for a reduction in Pennsylvania's title insurance rates.

TLTA News Ticker - Providing You the Latest in Industry-Related News

Monday through Friday you can count on us for the latest business and industry news clips in Texas and across the United States with our TLTA News Ticker. Check it out today!