April 26, 2017
TLTA Witness Lineup Testifies Against HB 4239, Bill Left Pending in Committee
On Tuesday, April 25, the House Committee on Insurance held a hearing for HB 4239 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, a bill that proposes to upend our stable rate system. TLTA put forth a lineup of expert witnesses to testify against this bill, stating that it would increase costs for Texas homeowners, reduce competition by shuttering small businesses and increase risks and claims. Witnesses also pointed out the differences between title insurance and property casualty insurance, reminding the committee that title insurance is more assurance than insurance, with premiums only paid once.
The hearing drew a large crowd, with 142 people signing in as witnesses, the vast majority of whom registered in opposition. A big thank-you to all the TLTA members who packed the hearing room.
After hearing almost two hours of testimony, including extensive questioning by the committee members, the committee voted to leave HB 4239 pending. We are very pleased with that outcome and will continue to work to keep the bill from proceeding any further.
During her testimony, Leslie Midgley, CAE, Executive Vice President and CEO of TLTA, discussed how title insurance provides "13,000 quality Texas jobs" for 592 licensed title agencies, including 540 independently owned companies. She also elaborated on the fact that title insurance prices are 15% lower today than they were 25 years ago, stating, "This is a testament to the system we have in place. Today's debate is really about what type of regulatory system the legislature wants. I can tell you that Texas is widely viewed across the country as a model for a successful title system."
Proponents of the bill – which included Doug Deason, Texans for Free Enterprise (TFE); Bill Hammond, Executive Director, TFE; Dr. David Eaton of The University of Texas at Austin; Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF); and Rod Bordelon, TFE – claimed that this bill was not about regulation and was simply about price. However, they did not dispute that claims could potentially increase if this bill passes.
TLTA would like to thank all members and supporters who took time out of their schedules to attend the hearing, and especially those who testified against this bill (listed in the order in which they were called):
- Jon Hockenyos, Economic Consultant, TXP
- Kergin Bedell, Attorney, Burton & Bedell, PLLC
- Steve Scurlock, Independent Bankers Association of Texas
- John Fleming, Texas Mortgage Bankers Association
- Kelly Flanagan, Texas Association of Realtors
- Todd Boykin, Attorney, Burdett Morgan Williamson & Boykin LLP
- James H. Dudley, President, TLTA
- John Dwyer, Trinity Title
TLTA will keep you informed on the status of this bill. We are very pleased with the results of this hearing and were pleased to have the opportunity to share our perspectives and data with the committee.
SB 2203 Also Heard in Committee Yesterday
On April 25, SB 2203 by Sen. Kelly Hancock was heard by the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce. The regulatory cleanup language in this bill has been previously vetted and is supported by the TLTA Board of Directors. The bill would do two things:
- Codify the Texas Disclosure
- Require TDI to promulgate a statistical report that aligns with common accounting practices of title agents
The bill was left pending in committee. TLTA will keep you posted on this legislation.