Attorney Trey Wilson - RL Wilson Law

17 September 2008

TRCC Bites Back to Sunset Slam -- Beleagured Construction Commission Issues Response and "News Release" to Abolition Recommendation

In a somewhat telling attempt to salvage an agency's very existence and preserve the jobs of professional bureaucrats, the TRCC published a "News Release" in Response to the Texas Sunset Advisory Committee's recommendation that TRCC be dismantled. The News Release contains only a portion of TRCC "management's response" to the Sunset Report issued in late August, but purports to "offer solutions" to "issues identified but not addressed" in that report. Recall, if you will, that the Sunsetters determined that TRCC was essentially dysfunctional and needs to be abolished. (See earlier blog posts). My favorite portion of the management response is a quote by the regulatory agency's Chairman, Paulo Flores:
“The Texas Residential Construction Commission adamantly disagrees with the Sunset Commission staff recommendation to eliminate builder oversight in Texas. Just because the Commission does not fit that staff’s standard and somewhat restricted view of what a regulatory agency should look like does not mean that the regulatory structure is fundamentally flawed.”

Chairman Flores' statement seems to dance around the fact that, ever since its creation by the Legislature in 1977, the statutory purpose of the Sunset Advisory Commission is to "identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies." In order to perform that function, the Sunsetters "question the need for each agency, look for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and consider new and innovative changes to improve each agency's operations and activities." In what I consider to be an insightful conclusion, Sunset Review of the TRCC has made the "sun shine" on that agency's flawed existence.

As an attorney who regularly represents Texas homeowners who suffer from construction defects or have been cheated, defrauded and sometimes plain robbed by unscrupulous builders, my experience has been that the Texas Residential Construction Commission is biased in favor of builders and against owners. In my opinion, this bias has been played out by the TRCC through blatant adoption of cumbersome Rules, expensive processes, and ineffectual communications. Though I deal with legal issues relating to residential construction on a daily basis, I have experience virtually nothing positive about the TRCC scheme.

Like TRCC Chairman Flores, I believe that Texas' 28,000 builders need regulatory oversight. I also believe that Texas homeowners need strict consumer protections against unethical builders. However, I disagree that the TRCC is the best agency to provide that oversight -- especially given its cozy relationship with builders, and the absence of any enforcement teeth.

In the end, the next Legislature will decide how best to handle TRCC. Though the agency has some friends in the Lege, it is worth noting that, in most cases, agencies under Sunset review are automatically abolished unless legislation is enacted to continue them.

Read the Sunset Advisory Commission's Staff Report on the TRCC here. The entire TRCC Response is available here.

Trey Wilson --Named By Scene in SA Magazine As One of San Antonio's Best Real Estate Litigation Attorneys -- September 2008 -- As voted on by peers