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Home    Education    Legislative    Publications    Calendar    Sunbelt Builders Show    Resources Jan. 13, 2011

National homebuilders expect a 20 percent jump in home starts for 2011; Texas analysts' estimates more conservative
The Dallas Morning News    Share   Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texans are typically an optimistic bunch, and they usually expect to outshine the rest of the nation. In the current economic mess, it's certainly been the case. But when it comes to predicting the housing market, local analysts are keeping a tight rein on their expectations. National economists, on the other hand, are looking for a more than 20 percent rise in nationwide home starts this year. Houston and DFW topped the nation in home starts in 2010, accounting for 7 percent of the country's total housing production. Still, North Texas housing analysts aren't betting on a significant building rebound this year. Starts were up about 12 percent in 2010 but have fallen in recent months. More

Texas sunset panel votes to disband Transportation Commission
Dallas Morning News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Gov. Rick Perry could gain even tighter control over the Texas Department of Transportation under a series of proposals approved Wednesday by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. The panel voted 7-5 to abolish the five-member Texas Transportation Commission and place the department under the authority of a single statewide commissioner. Perry would appoint that commissioner, just as he has all five of the highway chiefs who now oversee the department, and the appointment would have to be confirmed by the Senate. More

Texas leaders discuss tax law
The Associated Press via The Abilene Reporter-News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Top lawmakers are discussing changes to the troubled Texas business tax, but they promised not to use any tax legislation to soak up a huge budget shortfall. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus — all Republicans — met for breakfast and told reporters later they would balance the strained Texas budget without new taxes. But Perry held the door open to legislation reforming the state's business tax, which has provided far less revenue than originally projected. More

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Court lifts stay that delayed EPA rule in Texas
The Associated Press via The Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A federal appeals court lifted a brief stay granted to Texas to keep the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking over greenhouse gas permitting in Texas. Texas had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Dec. 30 to block the EPA from taking over the permitting until the court could review the case. The appeals court on the same day temporarily blocked the EPA from taking over the permits as it was set to do on Jan. 2. But in lifting the stay, the court said that "petitioners have not satisfied the stringent standards required for a stay pending court review." More

Groundwater bill gives property rights groups a leg up
The Austin American-Statesman Postcards Blog    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, filed a groundwater measure that has already won applause from property rights-oriented groups. The measure, SB 332, would "clarify groundwater ownership" as courts consider the extent to which groundwater districts can regulate the fate of water beneath a property owner's land. "Landowners recognize that locally elected groundwater conservation districts play an important role in helping manage water to ensure it is available for future generations," said Fraser. "But there is a big difference between managing how much water is pumped and denying property owners the right to access the water beneath their land." More

'Smart' design would contain sprawl in El Paso
El Paso Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
New neighborhoods with the look and feel of Kern Place or Sunset Heights could be built in El Paso with the use of a new "sustainable" development style, a city official said. Conventional building codes isolate land uses such as residential and business, and would not allow the mix seen in those neighborhoods, said Mathew McElroy, deputy director of the city's Planning and Economic Development Division. Those conventional codes have resulted in sprawling subdivisions full of dead-end cul-de-sacs where people must drive to strip malls to find businesses and other services, he said. More

Spill panel urges massive drilling shakeup
Houston Business Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Department of the Interior should strengthen its safety and pollution-prevention standards, according to the final report released by the Presidential commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon Gulf rig disaster. The report by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling also called for the need for a "new, independent agency" within the Department of the Interior to regulate the offshore oil and gas industry. More

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Lubbock sales tax share up nearly 4.5 percent
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Lubbock's initial sales tax receipts for 2011 will be more than $3.86 million, up 4.49 percent from January 2010's payment of $3.69 million. The January distribution represents the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year increases in revenues, said Combs, who explained the state posted across-the-board income increases. More

'Green' houses get push from Martha Stewart
The Wall Street Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart and home builder KB Home are teaming up again, this time to offer environmentally friendly homes, a move both companies hope will spark home sales. The concept home unveiled in Windermere, Fla. — on the eve of the start of the International Builders' Show in nearby Orlando — includes solar panels on the roof, kitchen composting bins and a rainwater-collection system. Buyers also can get electric-car charging stations. More
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