June 2010


Dear ,

It's beginning to look a lot like session around the Texas Capitol these days. Large and important committees are beginning to meet and the hallways are filled with stakeholders and observers. The legislators are preparing for session with their interim studies and the lobby is hurriedly signing up for concealed handgun license classes. Yes, the lobby will be armed with more than just campaign checks and talking points this time around as the only way you can enter the building efficiently, (thanks to the new metal detectors) is to bring a gun and/or your concealed handgun license to bypass the lines!

The Sunset Commission met last week with very little mention of title insurance. Sunset staff recognized the strides made in House Bill 4338 to address title agent insolvencies and removed their recommendation for a mandatory yearly outside financial audit for agents. However, Sunset staff's recommendation to remove some key public oversight for conducting audits presently directed and financed by the Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association (TTIGA) remains in the staff report. Burnie Burner, TTIGA's General Counsel, submitted comments to the Commission pointing out that oversight is a necessary function of TTIGA and to lose the ability to direct the expenditures renders the association simply a tax collecting arm of the state. We will be working with members of the Sunset Commission to address the staff recommendations regarding TTIGA.

On the federal front, I would encourage you to read Jim Hyland's report about where we are with Consumer Financial Protection Agency legislation. Jim is TLTA's lobbyist on the ground in Washington, DC. There are some aspects in the legislation to be grateful for, as well as some room for improvement. The bottom line however, is that the work will not be done until the conference committee crafts the new and final bill. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to get him the bill by July 4. We will continue our work on this issue and provide an update as new information develops.

In closing, I look forward to seeing many of you at our Annual Conference and Business Meeting later this month. Don't miss Thursday's PAC breakfast which will have a special treat for the political junkies among us, our guest speaker will be Evan Smith former managing editor of Texas Monthly and current head of the new Texas policy media venture,The Texas Tribune. Not to mention,ticket proceeds from Friday's Closing Breakfast will also benefit the TLTAPAC. I cannot stress enough the importance of everyone's participation in our PAC events. With only a few weeks to meet our annual fundraising goal of $100,000 we need everyone's support.

Sincerely,
Aaron Day

FEDERAL NEWS

Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 Passes Senate

By Jim Hyland, The Pennsylvania Group
TLTA Federal Legislative Counsel

Late last week, the U.S. Senate approved comprehensive financial regulatory restructuring by a vote of 59-39. Senators Hutchison and Cornyn both voted against the bill on final passage. The bill is over 1,500 pages and covers almost all aspects of the financial services industry.

The Senate and House will now go to a conference committee to sort out differences between the two versions of the bill. The Senate will appoint 12 conferees. It is not known at this time how many Members will serve from the House. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and House Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) met with President Obama on Friday. They pledged to wrap up a bill by July Fourth, but given the comprehensive nature of this bill, it could take until early August.
Briefly, here are some important aspects to the bill affecting the title industry:

The Senate bill creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent Bureau within the Federal Reserve. The House creates a substantially similar agency, but it will be free standing and called the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Each bill provides that it will be headed by a Director, appointed and confirmed by the Senate.

• Both bills transfer rule writing authority over sixteen consumer statutes, including RESPA and Truth in Lending to the new Agency.

• Both bills remove title insurance from the definition of a financial product, but retained a provision that defines "real estate settlement services" as a financial product.

• Both bills provide that the Agency will develop a new mortgage loan disclosure document within one year, combining disclosures under RESPA and TILA.

• Both bills also exempt insurance from the reach of the new consumer agency.

Read Jim Hyland's full report

REGULATORY NEWS

Statistical Reports Due June 14

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) issued a call for the 2010 Texas title insurance agents statistical report. The completed report is due June 14, 2010. Last week, TLTA offered two webinars designed to help you complete the statistical report. If you missed "Steps for Completing the TDI Statistical Report", we encourage you to access it through our archived online webinar series.

Steps for Completing the TDI Statistical Report Webinar Recording
Our speakers, including Betty Flores from TDI, walk participants through the steps to complete the report and discuss the new format for filing.
$85 TLTA Members/ $95 Non-Members
Register Now

AgentWind-Down Plans Past Due

As we reported earlier, The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) published guidelines for preparing the new agent "wind-down plan" as required in Administrative Rule D.1.All wind-down plans were due to TDI on May 1, 2010. If you have not submitted your wind-down plan, you should do so immediately.

Please note a copy of the wind-down plan should be submitted to each agent's underwriter, in addition to the copy sent to TDI. Copies of the wind-down plan may be overnighted to:

Texas Department of Insurance
Title Division
Attn: Robert York
333 Guadalupe Mail Code 106-2T
Austin, TX 78714

Agent Minimum Capitalization Requirements Not In EffectYet

House Bill 4338, a comprehensive bill addressing agent insolvency issues, was signed into law by Governor Perry last June. In our previous reports, we stated that although the bill went into effect on September 1, 2009, there were still certain aspects that required a hearing at the Texas Department of Insurance before they could take effect. One of those aspects is the minimum capitalization for agents.

Although a hearing has not been called to address this issue, we anticipate Commissioner Geeslin will announce the hearing sometime in the near future. As always, we will continue to monitor this issue closely and provide updates as new information emerges. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Day at 512.472.6593.

TEXAS LEGISLATIVE NEWS

Sunset Advisory Commission Holds Texas Department of Insurance Hearing

Last week, members of the Sunset Advisory Commission convened to discuss the Sunset staff's recommendations. The commission heard public testimony on nine different state agencies, including the Texas Department of Insurance and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel.

As we reported in the April Dateline Austin,the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) went through this review process during the last regular session, but due to time constraints the legislation to continue the agencies failed to pass.A special session was then called in July 2009 and the Legislature voted to continue the existence of TDI, along with several other state agencies, thus resulting in TDI undergoing another Sunset review.

The most recent TDI Sunset staff report was released in late April and TLTA was pleased to see the new report did not contain a recommendation for an independent agent audit. It does, however, recommend express authority for TDI to audit and review the operating accounts of a regulated agent as it did in its last report.

The audio portion of the hearing is now archived on the Sunset website. To access the archive click here and then click the audio for May 26, 2010. The Commission is scheduled to meet on July 6 to render its decision and make recommendations for the final report to the Legislature.

Sunset Staff Report-Sunset Advisory Commission-Additional Information

Rep. Larry Taylor Appointed to Sunset Advisory Commission

Just days before the Sunset Commission hearing, Speaker Straus appointed Representative Larry Taylor(R-Friendswood) to replace Representative Carl Issett (R-Lubbock) who resigned earlier in the month. Taylor, who is the chairman of the Republican Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives also sits on the House Insurance and Ways and Means committees.

"I am pleased to appoint Representative Larry Taylor to this important position," Straus said. "He is a well-respected leader in the Texas House and a strong supporter of government accountability. I am confident that his deep knowledge of the numerous technical and policy issues before this commission will serve us well."

TLTAPAC

Time is Running Out - Help Us Reach Our Goal

We have less than thirty days to meet our annual fundraising goal of $100,000 and we need lots of help to get there!

Are you a young title professional?
Join us on June 9 for our special TLTA Young Professional Learn @ Lunch featuring guest speaker Chris Phillips, President of Title Resource Guaranty. Tickets are only $10 and all proceeds benefit the TLTAPAC. Read more below.

Attending the Annual TLTA Conference & Business Meeting?
Then you don't want to miss our outstanding breakfast programs or the Bert Massey Classic Golf Tournament. Proceeds from these events go directly to the TLTAPAC.

Other Opportunities to Support the TLTAPAC
Donate Online With Your Personal Credit Card
Donate in Installments
Donate by Personal Check
Sponsor one of the Bert Massey Golf Tournament Holes or Prizes

TLTA's Young Professionals Back the PAC

Register Online|Download Registration Form|Directions

NEWS TO KNOW

Industry Stats

Release Date

Latest Release

Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

05/27/10

4.78%

-0.06

15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

05/27/10

4.21%

-0.03

10 Year Treasury Rate

06/02/10

3.35%

+0.06

Existing Home Sales (in millions)

05/24/10

5.77

+7.6%

New Home Sales

05/26/10

504,000

+14.8%

Supply of Housing Inventory

05/26/10

5 months

-7%

Information Provided by by ALTA.

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