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Home   About Us   Membership   Education   Events   Contact Us           February 26, 2015


Texas Senate tax break plan comes in at $4.7 billion in cuts
The Dallas Morning News
Senate leaders upped the ante on tax cuts, unveiling a proposal that would boost homestead exemptions to give homeowners a break from school property taxes, slash the business-franchise tax and total $4.7 billion in tax reductions. The plan's centerpiece would expand homestead exemptions for homeowners, providing $2.44 billion in school-tax relief over the next two years. That means about $240 annually for the average homeowner.
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After 24 years, Van de Putte bids Texas Legislature farewell
The Associated Press via KXAN-TV
Democrat Leticia Van de Putte has left the Texas Senate to run for San Antonio mayor. Her departure comes after nearly a quarter century in the Legislature and an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor last year. The pharmacist's voice cracked but remained composed as she responded to colleagues' plaudits with a 13-minute farewell floor speech. She praised bipartisanship but also recalled some bitter party-line fights. Overall, though, she said, "We're a family here."
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Despite low prices, Texas oil group stays optimistic
The Texas Tribune
Texas' oil and gas industry is touting its record-breaking 2014 contributions to state and local government coffers, an effort to stay positive amid 2015's far gloomier revenue outlook. State and local governments collected $15.7 billion in taxes and royalties from the industry last year, the highest total in Texas history, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced.
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In tepid housing market, builders cater to desires of well-off
The New York Times via CNBC
In the initial years after the collapse of the housing bubble, a severely wounded industry focused mostly on putting up more affordable duplexes and other multifamily housing, including rental apartments. But some economists say that demand for multifamily construction is leveling off. Home price appreciation in general is slowing as well; the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index report showed a pace of growth in the single digits. In this environment, builders are turning to the wealthy as the most reliable market on which to place their bets.
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No agency tasked with enforcing Perry's E-Verify order
The Texas Tribune
It's not the federal government or the Texas Workforce Commission. It isn't the state comptroller's office or the state auditor's office, either. To date, there is no office charged with enforcing former Gov. Rick Perry's December executive order requiring state agencies and agency contractors to use E-Verify, the electronic employment verification system that certifies workers are in the country legally.
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US homes are getting bigger, again, but more energy efficient
National Geographic
During The Great Recession, the small-is-better crowd seemed to be winning. After decades of upsizing and the spread of suburban McMansions, the average size of new U.S. single-family homes fell. Yes, it actually shrank. Architects such as Sarah Susanka, author of the Not So Big House series, cheered the slight downsizing — about 5 percent from 2007 to 2010. They wondered whether their less-is-more view had finally become the new Zeitgeist or whether Americans were simply strapped for cash.
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Technology can make the cash flow for material suppliers
By Nate Budde
Material suppliers are in a difficult place in the construction payment landscape. Compliance with lien and bond claim requirements in order to gain the protection of security is difficult and full of challenges, and the financial risk is high. Because material suppliers are at the bottom of the payment chain in the vast majority of construction projects, there are many potential places for money to get stuck.
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Bill aims to fund state highways with vehicle sales tax revenue
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined state leaders in supporting a bill aimed at putting billions of dollars into state highways. Senate Bill 5 and Senate Joint Resolution 5 would use money from the state's existing motor vehicle sales tax to pay for highways. In order to move forward it would need support from voters. Proposed by Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, the measure requires voters to amend the Texas Constitution to dedicate vehicle sales tax, totaling more than $2.5 billion annually, to the state's highway fund. The vehicle sales tax currently goes into the general fund.
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New home sales are surging. Why aren't existing homes as hot?
The Wall Street Journal
Home builders are reporting that sales of newly built homes so far this year are going gangbusters. But other gauges of the housing market, such as sales of existing homes, are far more tepid. So, which view is more reliable as the busiest months of the spring home-selling season approach?
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Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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Caitlin McNeely, Senior Editor, 469.420.2692 
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