Making the Circuit

Posted on December 10, 2010 by Mike Means

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Now I know you are thinking of Christmas, with all the festivities and parties and presents. Well, I am too. But another favorite is making the installation banquets of all the local associations. I can get bogged down with legislative activities and fighting the bureaucracies. So getting the chance to go to the locals and hear the latest news (and gossip) is really enjoyable.

Last Friday I had the chance to join the HBA of Greater Tulsa. The Aquarium in Jenks provided a wonderful backdrop for a great evening. Congratulations to Rob Miles as the new president.

Just this Tuesday President French and I went to Lawton.

Here is a picture of Tom installing their new president, John Jones.

Last night was Rogers County BA and tonight I go to Shawnee HBA. Check back often to see more pictures!

The spirit of all builders and associates seem to be very high. It tells me that the state of the association is in very good hands.

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MID Under fire

Posted on December 3, 2010 by Mike Means

Latest news - the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has issued their report. This commission was charged with the responsiblity of coming up with a plan to reduce the deficit. Well, the plan is, quite frankly, alarming.

While I strongly agree with Senator Coburn that we must take action, I must disagree with this particular provision. While admitting a bias, the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) has been a great success in creating home ownership. The fact that not as many Americans use this deduction because they don't itemize is not a reason to get rid of it or decrease it. The real reason is that over the years Congress has changed and tinkered with the tax code.

For example, how many of you out there remember you used to be able to deduct the interest on your credit cards and automobile loans? Congress needed to raise revenue so they took that away.

Now, how many believe once they take this important deduction away that rates won't eventually go back up? For those that answer no I have a bridge near Brooklyn for sale.

Tell your Senator and Congressman the answer is to lower - make that LOWER - spending. Then tell them you want to keep your deduction. Keep homeownership affordable. This will also help the economy and protect one of the few industries that truly is local - home builders.

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NAHB: Voters Warn: Don't Mess with the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Posted on November 10, 2010 by Mike Means
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Elections over - back to work

Posted on November 9, 2010 by Mike Means

Well, the elections are finally over. Thank goodness no more robo-calls. Did your candidates win?

Anecdotal evidence appears to point to a modes uptick in activity in the Oklahoma homebuilding industry. I am hearing from various sources that people are starting to think about building and that many of those that had been looking may be finally turning to buying. We shall see.

In the meantime, let's keep our hopes up and continue to work smart. As we prepare for the holidays, let's remember that "home" is where the heart is and we are, after all, "home" builders.

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Election Picks and Predictions

Posted on November 3, 2010 by Mike Means

Ok folks, election is Tuesday, November 2. Are you ready? We last discussed the State Questions, now, who do you vote for? What will be the ultimate outcome?

Well, I don't feel it is my place to tell folks who to vote for, but I can share a couple of interesting tidbits, such as who our Political Action Committee (PAC) supported. Knowing how the association's leadership feels about a candidate may give you a good idea as to who they feel may be the best bet for our industry. Because our PAC is somewhat limited in size, we don't get involved in every race.

Our PAC supported Mary Fallin for Governor, Todd Lamb for Lt. Governor and Scott Pruitt for Attorney General. Some of you may be wondering why we got involved in the Lt. Governor's race. Well, Todd Lamb, when he was a freshman state senator cut his legislative teeth carrying our Right to Remedy bill. Homebuilders don't forget their friends.

I know there are some other statewide races that are on the ballot, but again, with a limited PAC we directed resources to the legislative races. After all, that is the area that hurts or helps our industry as they are the lawmaking body. If you have a particular race you are interested in, drop me an email and I will tell you if the PAC got involved.

On the Federal level, we supported all the incumbents. I think most Oklahomans will agree we have a terrific Congressional delegation and I can tell you they truly support our industry. The only open seat is the one being vacated by Mary Fallin. In that race we have contributed to the candidacy of James Lankford.

Now, for a prediction or two. The easy one is that the House and the Senate in Oklahoma will remain in the hands of the Republicans. In Washington DC, I think the Republicans will take Congress but I think in the Senate the Democrats hang on for a very narrow margin. We will find out very soon, won't we?

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State Questions - what to vote?

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about all the state questions that will be on the ballot. Well, I decided to share my thoughts, information I've read, and then let you decide. Hopefully you can use this as some kind of guide for the election. I will try to be brief. Ready? Let's go!

SQ 744 - this is the one getting all the publicity. First you should know that your State Board of Directors voted unamiously to oppose this question. (In other words, vote NO.) It calls for education spending to be the regional average but provides no revenue stream or accountability. Simply put, to meet the mandate taxes must either go up or other essential government services (roads?) will be cut.

SQ 746 - this question will require anyone appearing to vote must present an ID. Hmm, can't cash a check or use a credit card without an ID. This one makes sense to me.

SQ 747 - this question puts term limits on the other state office holders. Governor and legislature already term limited. This would include all the other office holders; i.e., Lt. Governor, Treasurer, etc. Personally, I would have preferred letting the Governor and Lt. Governor run as a ticket and appoint the rest. In the meantime, term limits seems to be working.

SQ 748 - this changes how the reapportionment process will work. (Gerrymandering the legislative districts.) It would additional people to make it more bi-partisan. This seems to be a good idea.

SQ 750 - this measure would make it slightly easier to get petitions to the ballot by changing the number of signatures required. Each election cycle the number required changes. This would change it to the gubernatorial cycle and is a good idea.

SQ 751 - this question would require that all official state actions be in English. Native American languages could also be used. There is a lot of momentum behind this question. It is not as strong as English-only, but it is a step in that direction.

SQ 752 - this question would add two new non-lawyer, at-large members to the Judicial Nominating Commission. This sounds like a good way to get some average citizen input into the process.

SQ 754 - this is an attempt to counteract SQ 744 if it should pass. Many experts feel this question is just as bad as SQ 744. Probably best to just say NO to both.

SQ 755 - this question would forbid courts from considering international law or Sharia law when deciding cases. Not sure that we have had that problem in Oklahoma...yet.

SQ 756 - this is your chance to be heard on Obamacare. A YES vote says NO to a national health care system.

SQ 757 - this question would increase the amount of surplus revenue which goes to the Rainy Day Fund from 10% to 15%. Mixed thoughts on this one. If we would have had more money in the fund, the state budget would have been a little better following the national downturn. But, if things are going well, do we really want the state holding the money instead of letting the citizens decide what is best? If there is that much money coming in, perhaps taxes are a little too high? Your call.

There they are in a nutshell. Have fun at the polls. My next post will deal with some candidates.

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