Builders group meets and discusses recently passed, upcoming political issues

Published on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 23:39 - Written by CASEY MURPHY, cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

State and national representatives of the building industry Tuesday discussed recently passed and upcoming political issues that will affect their trade.

The Tyler Area Builders Association held its annual Government Officials Appreciation Luncheon and General Membership meeting, attended by about 120 people, at Willow Brook Country Club.

Granger MacDonald, former president of the Texas Association of Builders and candidate for the third vice chairman of the National Association of Homebuilders, was the keynote speaker and talked about political issues in Washington, D.C.

MacDonald, of Kerrville, is a third-generation builder of primarily multi-family residences. He is president of MacDonald Companies, a development, construction and management enterprise with more than 35 neighborhoods in Texas. He is a member of the Hill Country Builders Association and of the Greater San Antonio Builders Association. He served as chairman of Build PAC 2011-12 and as chairman of the Housing Credit Group.

MacDonald said there are some big issues coming up in Washington D.C. that could be detrimental to the building industry.

The first is new economic recovery problems causing a new tax format. He said “they will be coming after” first and second home-mortgage interest deductions, which are real estate tax benefits. The average price of a second home in Texas is only $52,000, he added.

There also is discussion of possibly doing away with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. MacDonald said it would not be smart to completely do away with Fannie Mae, which provides funding to the housing market; and Freddie Mac, which works with mortgage lenders to help people get lower housing costs and better access to home financing.

“We will have to ask the federal government to somehow stay in the mix,” he said, adding that government intervention of Freddie and Fannie was good.

The third issue affecting the industry is immigration reform, MacDonald said.

Labor shortages in trades such as plumbers and electricians “are killing us,” and “we need to be sure to keep a strong, safe labor force in the country,” he said.

Scott Norman, Texas Association of Builders executive director, said the state organization had an aggressive and successful legislative agenda last session, and identified water, education and roads as the most important needs of the state and the building industry. He said they were “able to get something done” on all three issues.

They included the passing of House Bill 5, which created new curriculum for high school students to take vocational classes; and water funding, which will put Proposition 6 on the November ballot to authorize $2 billion of revolving loan funds for the state water plan, he said. For roads, there will be a proposition on the 2014 ballot to authorize giving $1.2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to fund roads to address the Texas Department of Transportation’s $4 billion shortage, Norman said.

TABA recognized all of the area’s elected officials in attendance.

“Once a year, our association takes the opportunity to say a formal thank you to our elected officials for their support of the home building industry and our community at large,” Libby Simmons, TABA executive vice president, said. “The term ‘public service’ does not begin to describe the many things each of them does daily to make our cities and counties stronger and better.”

TABA also acknowledged its past presidents in recognition of the organization’s 60th year. Membership in TABA includes not only builders, but associate members who work alongside builders in the community.

Title sponsors of the luncheon included Bancorp South and StrucSure Home Warranty, while meeting spo­nsors were Carlyle Ho­mes, Citizens National Bank, Kilgore National Bank and TXI.