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Dallas Morning News - TRCC, Tail Wagging the Dog
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Homebuilder who backs TRCC donated thousands to lawmakers deciding agency's fate
The fate of the Texas Residential Construction Commission, an agency designed to regulate and handle complaints against homebuilders, lies in the hands of lawmakers who received thousands of dollars from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, one of the agency's top supporters.  The Legislature's Sunset Commission staff – which reviews state agencies and recommends how to beef them up – determined last year that the agency is so toothless and such a hindrance to aggrieved homeowners that it should be abolished. Since 2000, Perry, whose corporate attorney helped create the commission six years ago, has donated $388,000 to 10 of the 11 members of the Business and Industry Committee, state records show."Maybe the tail was wagging the dog," said Rep. Chente Quintanilla, D-El Paso, the only member of the House committee who has never received a donation from Perry.

Homebuilder who backs TRCC donated thousands to lawmakers deciding agency's fate

By MARCUS FUNK / The Dallas Morning News
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A
USTIN – The fate of the Texas Residential Construction Commission, an agency designed to regulate and handle complaints against homebuilders, lies in the hands of lawmakers who received thousands of dollars from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, one of the agency's top supporters.

The House Business and Industry Committee is trying to determine how to salvage the commission and turn it into an agency that can help consumers struggling with home construction problems. The Legislature's Sunset Commission staff – which reviews state agencies and recommends how to beef them up – determined last year that the agency is so toothless and such a hindrance to aggrieved homeowners that it should be abolished.

Since 2000, Perry, whose corporate attorney helped create the commission six years ago, has donated $388,000 to 10 of the 11 members of the Business and Industry Committee, state records show.

In addition, Perry has given $365,500 to members of the Senate committee that is due to take up the TRCC bill.

"Maybe the tail was wagging the dog," said Rep. Chente Quintanilla, D-El Paso, the only member of the House committee who has never received a donation from Perry.

Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy group, said he was not surprised by Perry's donations but was disappointed that lawmakers seemed to be listening more to high-paying business interests than their constituents.

"Uniformly, consumers and consumer organizations ... would prefer it be abolished," he said.

Many homeowners complained during a hearing Monday that the Legislature has ignored them since the commission was established.

Perry and other builders like the agency because it discourages construction by companies that could defraud homeowners. But it also requires homeowners to go through a lengthy inspection and arbitration process to sue a builder.

Current legislative efforts would shrink the time frame and increase penalties for errant builders, although they would not make the arbitration process optional, as some advocates have requested.

Perry is not lobbying for any particular bill or policy, but "strongly supports" the commission's efforts to reduce "bad apple" builders, said spokesman Anthony Holm.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/DN-trcc_25tex.ART.State.Edition2.4ac0302.html

 
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Reckless Endangerment
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