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IS YOUR STATE NEXT?
As Goes Texas So Goes the Nation 
TEXAS REGULATES HOMEBUYERS!
NEW HOMEBUYER LEGISLATION MAY BE COMING TO YOUR STATE SOON
!
How Texas Home Building Industry shaped the Texas Residential Construction
Commission (TRCC) and regulates new homebuyers

Texas Observer - TRCC Reform on the Home Front?
Saturday, 20 September 2008

Reform on the Home Front
...try to justify their agency’s existence. It’s not an easy case to make. Two weeks earlier, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, a legislative oversight committee, had recommended that state lawmakers abolish the TRCC because it does “more harm than good.”...Even by that lax standard, however, the Texas Residential Construction Commission—created ostensibly to aid homeowners—represents a new low. It’s one thing to ignore consumers; it’s quite another to work against them. Since its inception in 2003, the TRCC has been criticized for helping builders skirt lawsuits from consumers seeking reparations for shoddily built homes...Commissioner Mickey Redwine I ask that every commissioner unite and vote for change to prove to consumers that we are serious about change.”...The commissioners did unite—and voted against most of Redwine’s reforms. Consumer advocates weren’t surprised. “His heart is in the right place,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Texas Watch. “But regardless of the changes TRCC makes, it is broken and needs to be scrapped.”

Reform on the Home Front

September 19, 2008 | Political Intelligence

In early September, the nine appointees who run the Texas Residential Construction Commission convened a meeting. The agenda: try to justify their agency’s existence. It’s not an easy case to make. Two weeks earlier, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, a legislative oversight committee, had recommended that state lawmakers abolish the TRCC because it does “more harm than good.”

Few state agencies in Texas are known for aggressive regulation. Even by that lax standard, however, the Texas Residential Construction Commission—created ostensibly to aid homeowners—represents a new low. It’s one thing to ignore consumers; it’s quite another to work against them. Since its inception in 2003, the TRCC has been criticized for helping builders skirt lawsuits from consumers seeking reparations for shoddily built homes. Some critics call it Bob Perry’s agency, in honor of the wealthy Houston homebuilder who is a top Republican donor. Indeed, the agency’s board is dominated by representatives of the home-building industry, including Perry’s corporate counsel, who wrote the 2003 bill that created the TRCC [see “The Agency that Bob Perry Built,” February 4, 2005].

Commissioner Mickey Redwine is the lonely voice of reform at the agency. At the public meeting, he told his fellow commissioners what most homeowners already know: “I don’t feel that a fair and unbiased agency has been created to represent the public . . . I ask that every commissioner unite and vote for change to prove to consumers that we are serious about change.”

                  
The commissioner, who owns a cable construction company in the small town of Ben Wheeler, offered up a four-page list of wide-ranging reforms such as a stipulation requiring builders to be licensed and a rule ensuring that TRCC commissioners not be associated with trade association groups that might suggest a conflict of interest.

The commissioners did unite—and voted against most of Redwine’s reforms. Consumer advocates weren’t surprised. “His heart is in the right place,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Texas Watch. “But regardless of the changes TRCC makes, it is broken and needs to be scrapped.”

Redwine, who was appointed by Gov. Perry in 2003, said he would support abolishing the agency too, if it could not be turned around in two years. (TRCC staff is asking for 12 years to reform the agency.) “I still think it’s worth saving if we can turn it around,” Redwine said. “I was appointed to look out for the best interests of consumers, and if that means abolishing the agency, then I will support that.”

The TRCC will argue for its continued existence at the next Sunset Commission meeting, on September 23. At the meeting, state lawmakers on the Sunset Commission will mull over whether TRCC is worth saving and make a recommendation. Ultimately, the Legislature will decide the fate of the TRCC during its session next year. That’s when homebuilders, who are some of the state’s most prolific donors to political campaigns, will have a big say.

Winslow—who has been working to abolish the agency for the past five years—says he wouldn’t be surprised if the TRCC survives. “I have no doubt that the powerful homebuilding lobby will be doing everything they can to save this agency.”

http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2845

—Melissa del Bosque

 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
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