Houston News

Veterans who need legal advice or assistance can visit a free legal clinic on Saturday, July 29, from 9:00 a.m. until noon, at the Richmond VA Outpatient Clinic, 22001 Southwest Freeway, Suite 200, Richmond, TX 77469. The clinic is a public service of Fort Bend Lawyers Care, the Fort Bend County Bar Association and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative, a coalition of local bar associations that provide pro bono legal services to U.S. veterans in 18 counties in Texas.

No appointment is necessary. Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can receive one-on-one advice and counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate, and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney to handle their case.

For more information on the clinic and other services for veterans, contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at 713-759-1133 or visit www.hba.org.

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Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOSHEM) Public Information Officer Francisco Sanchez has been selected to serve as a member of the FEMA National Advisory Council (NAC) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Subcommittee to represent state and local emergency managers.

“I am honored by the opportunity to serve and look forward to working diligently on an issue I am deeply committed to, improving how public safety can best deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to save lives,” said Sanchez.

The NAC IPAWS Subcommittee will make recommendations to the NAC on matters related to common alerting and warning protocols, standards, terminology, and operating procedures for an integrated public alert and warning system.

The IPAWS subcommittee is comprised of federal officials from FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce and the National Council on Disability, and a broad set of other public safety stakeholders and technology innovators.

Sanchez has vast experience in public emergency alerts having served two terms (2013-2017) on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) where he co-chaired a work group tasked with reviewing Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) security practices and making recommendations on how to best encourage the use of emergency alerts by local and state officials.

Sánchez has been with Harris County since 2004, now heading emergency communications in the nation’s third largest county. Sanchez was lead public information officer during the Houston area’s response to both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. He also led the region’s Joint Information Center operations during Hurricane Ike and the highly active 2008 hurricane season.

Most recently, Sanchez was listed by StateScoop as one of Top 11 Public Safety Tech Leaders to Watch. He has been a featured speaker at SXSW, National Hurricane Conference, National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas Homeland Security Conference, Emergency Management Magazine Road Show, the National All-Hazard Incident Management Team Training & Education Conference, Texas State Firemen’s and Fire Marshal’s Conference, Smart Cities (Toronto) and other forums. In 2013, he was profiled as Emergency Management Magazine’s Major Player. In 2015, the University of Houston named Sanchez its Houston Public Official of the Year and also received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

 

Panoramic view of famous Gendarmenmarkt square with Berlin Concert Hall in twilight during blue hour at dusk, Berlin Mitte district, Germany.

Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada will lead the Houston Symphony on a four-country, eight-city European Tour through some of Europe’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals, March 9–March 19, 2018. World-renowned violinist and three-time Grammy Award-winner Hilary Hahn joins the Houston Symphony for all performances. The high-profile tour, which features concerts in Belgium, Germany, Poland and Austria, is Orozco-Estrada’s first international tour with the orchestra and the Houston Symphony’s first major European tour in more than 20 years.

Central to the tour repertoire will be Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, a work that was featured in Orozco-Estrada’s critically-acclaimed inaugural recording with the Houston Symphony. The program also celebrates the 100th birthday of legendary conductor, composer and musical ambassador Leonard Bernstein, including Bernstein’s Serenade for Violin (featuring Hilary Hahn); Overture to West Side Story; and Three Dance Episodes from On the Town. Rounding out the tour repertoire will be Dvořák’s The Noon Witch.

The tour opens at the distinguished Klarafestival at BOZAR in Brussels, Belgium (March 9), followed by two performances in Germany, one at Philharmonie Essen  (March 11) and one at Konzerthaus Berlin (March 12). The orchestra then travels to Warsaw, Poland, to perform at the Filharmonia Narodowa (March 14) before heading to Vienna, Austria (March 15) to perform at the Wiener Konzerthaus. The orchestra returns to Germany for the last leg of the tour to perform at Elbphilharmonie Hamburg (March 17), the Hannover Congress Centrum (March 18), and Gasteig München (March 19).

As a cultural ambassador for the city and the region, the Houston Symphony has toured extensively, from regional tours to military bases in Texas and Louisiana, to international appearances in Singapore, Moscow and Japan in addition to various parts of Europe. The 2018 European Tour marks the first major international touring activity since the 1990s under the artistic leadership of Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, whose last tour with the orchestra was the European Festival Tour in 2000, with appearances in Germany and Switzerland.

Since becoming music director in 2014, Orozco-Estrada, who holds the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair, has quickly forged a strong artistic bond with the musicians of the Houston Symphony. This 2018 tour marks the next step in a dynamic artistic partnership that has included a series of critically-acclaimed recordings of the last four Dvořák symphonies under the Dutch recording label PENTATONE. Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony will soon release a Music of the Americas disc, featuring Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Revueltas’ Sensemayá, Piazzolla’s Tangazo and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Additional recording projects with PENTATONE include Haydn’s The Creation.

“It is very special for me to take the orchestra to some of the most distinguished halls in the world with major works that are essential to the classical repertoire, such as Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, which we recently recorded and released to international audiences,” said Orozco-Estrada. “Touring is an important part of our artistic growth that helps us connect with audiences in other parts of the world and represent our city of Houston well.”

“This is an opportunity for us to showcase not only our musicians and Andrés, but to reinforce to European audiences that Houston is the Cultural Capital of the South,” said Mark C. Hanson, Executive Director and CEO, Margaret Alkek Williams Chair. “We’re confident that both audiences in Europe and in Houston following the tour will be moved and inspired by the performances of the Houston Symphony.”

The European Tour is made possible through the generosity of 34 generous individuals, foundations and corporations, including the following leadership donors: Rochelle & Max Levit, Barbara J. Burger, Janet F. Clark, Barbara & Pat McCelvey, The Brown Foundation, Inc., Drs. Dennis & Susan Carlyle, Mr. John N. Neighbors, Bobby & Phoebe Tudor, John & Lindy Rydman/Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods/Spec’s Charitable Foundation, Ron Franklin & Janet Gurwitch, The Joan & Marvin Kaplan Foundation, Carol & Michael Linn & The Michael C. Linn Family Foundation, Beth Madison, Nancy & Robert Peiser, Dave & Alie Pruner, Mr. Jay Steinfeld & Mrs. Barbara Winthrop, Judith Vincent, Viviana & David Denechaud, Cora Sue & Harry Mach, Brad & Joan Corson, and Steve & Joella Mach.

Houstonians can get a sneak peek of the tour when repertoire is featured Feb. 15, 17 and 18 and Feb. 23-25 at Jones Hall. Single tickets for these preview performances go on sale to public on August 27, 2017. For more information, visit houstonsymphony.org.

 

Six Memorial Hermann Hospitals, including Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical CenterMemorial Hermann Katy HospitalMemorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Memorial Hermann Southeast HospitalMemorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital and Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, were recently honored with Mission: Lifeline Awards by the American Heart Association (AHA) for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

“Memorial Hermann is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our patients who suffer a heart attack, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that goal through nationally-respected clinical guidelines,” said Amy Harberg, vice president of Heart & Vascular Services at Memorial Hermann. “We are honored to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in cardiac care.  Our team of expert physicians and staff are among the very best in the country and deserve this recognition.”

“We’d also be remiss if we didn’t thank our local EMS providers who recognize the signs of heart attack and begin care in in the field,” added Harberg.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

The Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks, beginning with the 9-1-1 call and continuing through hospital treatment.  As part of the program, AHA recognizes hospital achievements with a series of awards at various levels.  Memorial Hermann’s 2017 awards include:

Mission: Lifeline® Gold Receiving Quality Achievement Award

Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center (HVI)

Mission: Lifeline STEMI Silver Receiving Plus Quality Achievement Award

Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital

Mission: Lifeline STEMI Silver Receiving Quality Achievement Award

Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital

Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital

Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital

Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Bronze Quality Achievement Award

Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center (HVI)

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital

“We commend Memorial Hermann for its achievement awards, which reflect a significant institutional commitment to the highest quality of care for their heart attack patients,” said James G. Jollis, MD, Chair of the Mission: Lifeline Advisory Working Group. “Achieving these awards means the hospitals have met specific reporting and achievement measures for the treatment of their patients who suffer heart attacks and we applaud them for their commitment to quality and timely care.”

 

 

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HOUSTON – Immune cells with a general knack for recognizing and killing many types of infected or abnormal cells also can be engineered to hunt down cells with specific targets on them to treat cancer, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the journal Leukemia.

The team’s preclinical research shows that natural killer cells derived from donated umbilical cords can be modified to seek and destroy some types of leukemia and lymphoma. Genetic engineering also boosts their persistence and embeds a suicide gene that allows the modified cells to be shut down if they cause a severe inflammatory response.

A first-in-human phase I/II clinical trial of these cord-blood-derived, chimeric antigen receptor-equipped natural killer cells opened at MD Anderson in June for patients with relapsed or resistant chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. All are cancers of the B cells, another white blood cell involved in immune response.

“Natural killer cells are the immune system’s most potent killers, but they are short-lived and cancers manage to evade a patient’s own NK cells to progress,” said Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.

“Our cord-blood derived NK cells, genetically equipped with a receptor that focuses them on B-cell malignancies and with interleukin-15 to help them persist longer — potentially for months instead of two or three  weeks — are designed to address these challenges,” Rezvani said.

Moon Shots Program funds project

The clinical trial is funded by MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™, designed to more rapidly develop life-saving advances based on scientific discoveries.

The chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), so-called because it’s added to the cells, targets CD19, a surface protein found on B cells.

In cell lines and mouse models of lymphoma and CLL, CD19-targeted NK cells killed cancer cells and extended survival of animals compared to simply giving NK cells alone. Addition of IL-15 to the CD19 receptor was crucial for the longer persistence and enhanced activity of the NK cells against tumor cells.

NK cells are a different breed of killer from their more famous immune system cousins, the T cells.  Both are white blood cells, but T cells are highly specialized hunters that look for invaders or abnormal cells that bear a specific antigen target, kill them and then remember the antigen target forever.

Natural killers have an array of inhibitory and activating receptors that work together to allow them to detect a wider variety of infected, stressed or abnormal cells.

Using a viral vector, the researchers transduce NK cells taken from cord blood with the CD19 CAR, the IL-15 gene, and an inducible caspase-9-based suicide gene.“By adding the CD19 CAR, we’re also turning them into guided missiles,” said Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cell Therapy.

Cell line tests found the engineered NK cells to be more efficient killers of lymphoma and CLL cells, compared to unmodified NK cells, indicating the engineered cells’ killing was not related to non-specific natural killer cell cytotoxicity.

Another experiment showed the engineered cord blood NK cells killed CLL cells much more efficiently than NK cells taken from CLL patients and engineered, highlighting the need to transplant CAR-engineered NK cells from healthy cord blood rather than use a patient’s own cells.

Suicide gene to counter cytokine release syndrome

Mouse model lymphoma experiments using a single infusion of low dose NK cells resulted in prolongation of survival. At a higher, double dose, none of the mice treated with the CD19/IL-15 NK cells died of lymphoma, with half surviving for 100 days and beyond. All mice treated with other types of NK cells died by day 41.

A proportion of mice treated with the higher dose of engineered NK cells died of cytokine release syndrome, a severe inflammatory response that also occurs in people treated with CAR T cells.

To counteract this toxicity, the researchers incorporated a suicide gene (iC9) that can be activated to kill the NK cells by treatment with a small-molecule dimerizer. This combination worked to swiftly reduce the engineered NK cells in the mouse model.

Subsequent safety experiments were conducted in preparation for the clinical trial. Rezvani, the principal investigator of the clinical trial, says the protocol calls for vigilance for signs of cytokine release syndrome, treatment with steroids and tocilizumab for low-grade CRS with AP1903 added to activate the suicide gene for grade 3 or 4 CRS.

NK CARs available off the shelf

T cells modified with chimeric antigen receptors against CD19 have shown efficacy in clinical trials. In these therapies, a patient’s own T cells are modified, expanded, and given back to the patient, a process that takes weeks.  Finding a matched donor for T cells would be a challenge, but would be necessary because unmatched T cells could attack the recipient’s normal tissue – graft vs. host disease.

Rezvani and Shpall have given patients cord-blood derived NK cells in a variety of clinical trials and found that they do not cause graft vs. host disease, therefore don’t have to be matched.  NK cells can be an off-the-shelf product, prepared in advance with the necessary receptor and given promptly to patients.

“CAR NK cells are scalable in a way that CAR T cells are not,” Rezvani noted.

A strength of T cells is the development of memory cells that persist and repeatedly attack cells bearing the specific antigen that return.  NK cells do not seem to have a memory function, but Rezvani says the experience of the longer-lived mice, which are now more than a year old, raises the possibility that a prolonged NK cell attack will suffice.

Shpall, Rezvani and colleagues are developing cord blood NK CARs for other targets in a variety of blood cancers and solid tumors.

MD Anderson and the researchers have intellectual property related to the engineered NK cells, which is being managed in accordance with the institution’s conflict-of-interest rules.

Shpall founded and directs MD Anderson’s Cord Blood Bank, originally established to provide umbilical cord blood stem cells for patients who need them but cannot get a precise donor match.  Donated by mothers who deliver babies at seven Houston hospitals and two others from California and Michigan, the bank now has 26,000 cords stored. MD Anderson researchers pioneered the extraction and expansion of NK cells from umbilical cords.

Shpall is also co-leader of the Moon Shots Adoptive Cell Therapy Platform™, along with Cassian Yee, M.D., professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology, which develops cell-based cancer immunotherapies.

Co-authors with Rezvani and Shpall are first author Enli Liu, Yijiu Tong, Hila Shaim, Xinhai Wan, Pinaki Banerjee, Rong Cai, Mustafa H Bdaiwi, Rafet Basar, Muharrem Muftuoglu, Li Li, David Marin, Richard Champlin, all of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy; Xinyan Lu and Alexandra Reynolds of the Department of Hematopathology; Mihai Gagea of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery; William Wierda and Michael Keating of the Department of Leukemia: Gianpietro Dotti, Barbara Savoldo of the University of North Carolina; Malini Mukherjee and Jordan Orange of Baylor College of Medicine

Funding for this research was provided by MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health Cancer Center Support Grant (CA016672) to MD Anderson and grants from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society.

(Houston, Texas)  – July 12, 2017 – Houston area property owners will have the opportunity to learn from local expert Frank LaViola, about helpful tips on mold, water, fire and wind damage along with property restoration during a 30-minute radio show, “Home Cents” on KPRC-AM 950. The show will air on Saturday, July 15 at 9 am.

LaViola owns and operates Paul Davis of West Houston with his wife Stacey, and their team of restoration professionals. During the radio show, LaViola will also discuss how to help property owners with renovations, remediation, and restoration, plus details on how to locate emergency management services and highly-trained and certified technicians, to name a few. The LaViolas serve Paul Davis customers in Greater Houston including Katy, Rosenberg, Cypress, Tomball, Missouri City, East Cypress, and the surrounding communities.

The program on KPRC-AM 950 will also feature area professionals in mold assessment, environmental issues, and indoor air quality during the talk format with Mike Landry, the host and broadcast personality. Landry and members of The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) of the Texas Gulf Coast, plus LaViola and guests, will provide stimulating and informative subjects with call-ins and entertaining banter about serious topics in construction, emergency services and damage restoration.

According to LaViola, his participation is a public service to listeners who can learn from real professionals. His portion of the program will focus on Paul Davis’ expertise in the community and the company’s role in helping individuals who need immediate care at home and at the office with construction and emergency damage expertise and services.

“Emergency restoration services offer property owners and insurance professionals with qualified technicians who help people in times of catastrophic need. We provide specific expertise and a positive impact on what may be a devastating experience,” said LaViola.

In addition to several decades of marketing, sales and emergency management experience, LaViola has high level management and operations experience in running a business. The San Diego State University alum’s acuity in responding to emergency details comes from work with a variety of insurance carriers and collision repair facilities garnered over the last 23 years.

LaViola worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car as the Assistant Vice President of the Insurance Replacement Division and in Collision Industry Relations, and as the company’s Vice President of Operations in Germany. In those positions, he negotiated and provided services for many insurance companies while focusing on the complete satisfaction of the client, a key attribute he utilizes in serving his Paul Davis customers and claims work.

 

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The HPRA lunch speaker this Friday is attorney Robert Henneke,  Director of the Center for the American Future, a part of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Mr. Henneke will speak on regulatory overreach by city halls on home and room rentals such as Vacation Rentals By Owner  (vrbo.com) and airbnb.com, as well as the core mission to “launch challenges to government overreach at the administrative, district and appellate court levels.”

One of their cases is a lawsuit regarding the Austin fireman’s union.

https://www.texaspolicy.com/cases/detail/pulliam-et-alv-city-of-austin-et-al

More: https://www.texaspolicy.com/centers/detail/center-for-the-american-future

 

Houston Property Rights Association

 

PUBLIC INVITED: $11.49 plus 10% gratuity – buffet self-serve – all you can eat.

Coffee and tea are extra.

 

The Lam Bo Restaurant (Chinese and American food), is at

6159 Westheimer Road, about a mile west of Chimney Rock on the south side.

(look for us in the back room)

 

July 14, 2017

Buffet lunch – 12:00 to 2:00 – Program starts at 12:30

 

Please tell your friends and neighbors about our meetings.

 

RESERVATIONS NOT NEEDED

 

 

Upcoming Speakers and Topics

 

July 21: TBD

 

July 28: South Texas Law School Professor and blogger Josh Blackman – who will discuss his two books on Obamacare, which he will sign for folks who bring copies.

 

  1. Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (2013)
  2. Unraveled: Obamacare, Religious Liberty, and Executive Power(2016)

http://joshblackman.com/blog/

 

Aug. 4; TBD

 

Aug. 11: Retired HPD officer Larry Watts and his wife Carolyn -.who will discuss their book, Dishonored and Forgotten, a novel based on the death of an HPD detective in his office in the Houston police department, and officially explained as a suicide.

http://larrywattsauthor.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

HPRA wants to thank Computer Services of Texas

for its donated work keeping the HPRA Macintosh computer running smoothly.

(computerservicesoftexas.com

 

 

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“The ‘Consumer Freedom Amendment’ Sen. Ted Cruz has offered to the Senate healthcare bill would make access to healthcare more secure for patients who develop expensive conditions.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato institute, recently wrote an op-ed for The Hill outlining the need to include U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) Consumer Freedom Amendment currently under consideration in the Senate’s Better Health Care Act legislation, citing it would “make access to healthcare more secure for patients who develop expensive conditions” and “would instantly stabilize the individual market.”

Read the op-ed in its entirety here. Excerpts of the op-ed are below:

How Cruz’s health insurance plan makes coverage more secure

The Hill

Michael F. Cannon

July 12, 2017

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/healthcare/341469-how-cruzs-amendment-makes-health-insurance-coverage-more-secure

The “Consumer Freedom Amendment” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has offered to the Senate healthcare bill would make access to healthcare more secure for patients who develop expensive conditions. Critics of the amendment fail to understand how health insurance markets work.

The Cruz amendment would allow individuals to opt out of ObamaCare’s costly health-insurance regulations — but only if insurers simultaneously offered ObamaCare-compliant plans to all comers, including patients with preexisting conditions.

ObamaCare’s preexisting-conditions provisions are no more than government price controls. These “community rating” price controls force insurers to charge all enrollees of a given age the same premium, regardless of health status. But forcing insurers to charge healthy people more, and sick people less, than they cost to cover creates more problems than it solves.

Thousands of years of experience have shown government price controls only make matters worse. As former Clinton and Obama economic advisor Larry Summers warns, “price and exchange controls inevitably create harmful economic distortions. Both the distortions and the economic damage get worse with time.” ObamaCare’s price controls are no different. They are increasing premiums, reducing choice, making coverage worse for the sick, and threatening to make health insurance disappear entirely.

ObamaCare’s price controls injected adverse selection into the individual market and are therefore a driving force behind the doubling of individual-market premiums nationwide since 2013. Average premiums have increased 110 percent in Iowa and 169 percent in West Virginia.

ObamaCare’s price controls are also reducing choice by driving insurers from the market. The number of insurers participating in the 38 federally run Exchanges has fallen 50 percent since 2016.

In dozens of counties, community rating is threatening to leave sick patients with no coverage at all. This supposed consumer protection has driven every insurer from the market, leaving sick patients with no assistance with their medical bills.

The Cruz amendment would instantly stabilize the individual market the only way anyone can: by freeing markets from ObamaCare’s price controls and other regulations and letting insurers charge premiums that correspond to risk.

Absent ObamaCare’s health-insurance regulations, premiums would fall for the vast majority of Exchange enrollees by an estimated 45-68 percent. It would allow insurers to reintroduce innovative products, which ObamaCare effectively outlawed, that would reduce premiums a further 80 percent(!). Consumers could purchase long-term, guaranteed-renewable coverage that protects them from premium spikes when they fall ill, provides coverage more comprehensive than ObamaCare, and is more secure than employer coverage. Risk-based premiums stabilize insurance markets and enable these quality improvements. They are consumer protections.

Capito and Grassley may worry the government won’t provide insurers sufficient funding to make it all work. But consider: Republican lawmakers, the health-insurance lobby, and tens of millions of voters would all be invested in making it work — and Democrats almost never say no to more taxpayer dollars for healthcare. There are even ways of boosting subsidies for such plans without increasing total spending under the Senate bill.

(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $679.9 million in local sales tax allocations for July, 9 percent more than in July 2016. These allocations are based on sales made in May by businesses that report tax monthly.

“The cities of Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Midland and Odessa saw noticeable increases in sales tax allocations,” Hegar said.

LOCAL SALES TAX ALLOCATIONS (July 2017)
Recipient July 2017
Allocations
Change from
July 2016
Year-to-date
Change
Cities    
$439.8M ↑8.0% ↑3.2%
Counties $41.3M 14.0% 3.5%
Transit Systems $153.8M 7.9% 3.9%
Special Purpose Taxing Districts $45.1M 20.1% 12.1%
Total $679.9M 9.0% 3.9%

For details on July sales tax allocations to individual cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts, visit the Comptroller’s Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports.

New home sales are flourishing in Johnson Development’s Houston-area communities, with builders reporting 27 percent more homes sold during the first six months of 2017 than the previous year.

Builders sold a total of 1,560 homes through the first half of the year, compared to 1,225 in 2016. Three developments reported a year-over-year sales increase topping 35 percent: Richmond’s Harvest Green, with 48 percent more sales in 2017; Harmony in Spring, with 45 percent more sales during the first six months; and Imperial in Sugar Land, with 37 percent more sales this year.

In terms of actual number of homes sold, Riverstone heads the list not only among Johnson Development’s Houston-area communities, but all developments in the region, according to a recently released mid-year sales report by housing think tank Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO). With 276 sales — a 19 percent increase from mid-year 2016 — Riverstone is ranked at No. 1 in Houston, No. 2 in Texas and No. 16 in the nation. Johnson Development had six Texas communities ranked among the top 50 on the RCLCO list: Riverstone, Cross Creek Ranch (No. 31), Sienna Plantation (No. 32), Woodforest (No. 37t), Harvest Green (No. 41) and Viridian (No. 49t).

“Again this year, we were blessed to have more top-selling master-planned communities in the nation than any other developer,” said Doug Goff, President and Chief Operating Officer for Johnson Development. “Thanks to a great team of professionals who manager our communities, our home sales are on pace to exceed 3,000 in the Houston market in 2017.”

Newmark Homes President Mike Moody says it’s the outstanding amenities found in Johnson communities and the thoughtful development that has fueled home sales.

“We build in seven Johnson developments and do so because we know the community will be well planned and no corners will be cut in creating a neighborhood where people will want to live,” he said. “Our sales are especially strong in Harvest Green where residents can grow their own produce on an on-site farm and pick fresh herbs from the edible landscape.”

Three Johnson communities started their first full year of home sales this year: Grand Central Park in Conroe, Jordan Ranch in Fulshear and Veranda in Richmond.

In its 42nd year, Johnson Development has 17 communities under active development — 14 in the Houston area, two in Dallas-Fort Worth and one in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.johnsondevelopment.com.

Photo Information

Riverstone Best Aerial.jpg

Builders in Johnson Development’s 14 Houston-area communities are reporting 27 percent more sales during the first half of 2017 than last year. Johnson Development has more top-selling master-planned communities than any other developer in the nation, according to a recent report.