Government Affairs Update
August 2020
Barbara Koelzer, Regional Government Affairs Director
[email protected]
303.886.5675

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Boulder County
Realtor® Wins Primary: Realtor® Marta Loachmin beat Jonathan Singer in a closely contested Democratic primary for District 2, winning the right to face Republican James Crowder in November.  Considered to be a longshot by some observers, Loachmin raised far less in contributions, $7,145 as of late June.  Singer, who raised $18,147 in the same time period. Loachmin received endorsements from the current commissioners although Singer was supported by other Democratic heavyweights.

Democrat Claire Levy, a former Colorado House legislator, will face Cinda Kochen for the District 1 seat. Neither candidate faced a primary opponent.

Longmont
Council Begins Review of Climate Plan: On June 30 the City Council began its review of the Longmont Climate Action Report. The recommendations were drafted by a Climate Action Plan Task Force. The entire document is over 140 pages long, so the Council will continue its work again on July 7 to consider the section devoted to resiliency and land use.

One significant recommendation is to “improve” building codes to include energy conservation measures and promote renewable energy by Adopt and implement new codes and policies by 2022. In addition to adopting the 2021 building codes for residential and commercial buildings, the task force recommends new appendices.

The new appendices, if adopted, would require solar ready wiring for rooftop or yard installations, car charging ready wiring in garages, energy star rated appliances and updated codes for electric heaters and water heaters. The goal of the appendices is to promote all-electric buildings.

The task force said contractors and builders would benefit the most because homes with these features command a higher price on the market. At the same time, the report indicated concern for the “additional complexities and requirements that may make homes less affordable for first time home buyers and disadvantaged community members.”

The Council did not discuss or debate the recommendations, but they had time to ask questions and receive clarification. Once the entire report has been presented, staff will ask the council for direction on how to proceed with the recommendations.

Council Wants Stronger Regulations for STRs: Longmont’s planning staff asked for a revision to the City’s short-term rental (STR) regulations on July 14, but the City Council said no. Staff wanted to amend the regulations so property owners who live outside the City or have a home in the name of an LLC, could legally operate one STR. It was also suggested that the property owner should name a local contact or a local property manager for issues.

Polly Christensen immediately voiced opposition to the idea, saying “we shouldn’t commercialize neighborhoods.” Mayor Bagley pushed back against Council comments about LLCs and “rich people.” He said, “Just owning a property doesn’t mean you’re rich.” However, the Mayor and Council member Marcia Martin were in the minority. The Council voted 5-2 to oppose any changes to the ordinance.

The Council then directed staff to return with ideas concerning how to strengthen the current ordinance and crack down on STR owners who allow parties and other nuisances. 

Note: Longmont currently has 80 active STR permits. The City’s zoning enforcement officer has received nine complaints since the ordinance was adopted. 18 months ago. In addition, the Police Department has received 54 calls related to 30 complaints at STR addresses, but it is unknown if those complaints were all related to STR use. Planner Don Burchett told the Council that citizen comments have been divided into complaints the regulations are overly burdensome or not strict

REGION
Primary Races Featured Recognizable Names: Barbara Kirkmeyer, the term-limited Weld County Commissioner (District 3) beat Rupert Parchment in the Senate District 23 Republican primary. Vicki Marble who held SD 23 until term-limited this year, lost her bid to be the Republican candidate for House District 49 (formerly held by Perry Buck) to Mike Lynch.

Other incumbent legislators in our region such as Edie Hooton (SD 10), Joann Ginal (SD 14), Steve Fenberg (SD 17), Mary Young (HD 50), Hugh McKean (HD 51), Cathy Kipp (HD 52) and Jeni Arndt (HD 53) didn’t face primary opponents.

STATE
Reminder- New State Rules: The Real Estate Commission adopted new rules concerning “Money Belonging to Others” for services other than real estate brokerage services. The rules are effective as of July 30, 2020.

Read more here:
https://sites.google.com/state.co.us/summer2020-realestatenews/broker-rule-adoption

NATION
Congress Extends PPP: On Wednesday, July 1, the House of Representatives extended the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through August 8, 2020 (the Senate passed the extension the day before). The program had previously expired on June 30, with more than $100 billion in funds still available for borrowers, and NAR strongly advocated for its extension in both the House and Senate. This extension means that new applicants will be accepted by SBA lenders until August 8 and allows the program to continue assisting small businesses and independent contractors while Congress works on the next COVID-19 relief package.

House Passes Infrastructure Bill: NAR sent a letter supporting H.R. 2, a wide-reaching infrastructure bill last week, with a number of NAR-supported provisions. This bill combines significant investment in surface transportation and mass transit, broadband access, water infrastructure, affordable housing, and other important provisions to make these systems more resilient and sustainable.

NAR supported traditional infrastructure issues such as significant increases in direct federal investments in surface transportation and mass transit systems; an extension of the Highway Trust Fund through October 1, 2025; incentives to encourage high-density, transit-oriented development; streamlining the costly federal permitting process while continuing to provide critical environmental protections; resources for communities to develop systems to better manage, utilize, and control their water, wastewater, and drinking water resources; and resources for communities to make their transportation and infrastructure systems more resilient and sustainable.

In addition, NAR supports a number of provisions related to affordable housing including: reform and modernization of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; private investment in community development and affordable housing through private activity bonds and the New Markets Tax Credit; and resources to preserve, protect, and expand affordable housing in rural communities.

Lastly, NAR supported expanded broadband, as well as energy efficiency measures to extend and expand the 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction and Home Energy Savings Retrofit Rebate Program.

The measure passed the House largely on a partisan basis. The Senate is expected to consider an infrastructure proposal later this summer, and NAR will work to see these provisions included.

FHFA Asked to Extend Comment Period: NAR joined a coalition of housing, finance, and consumer groups requesting an extension of the FHFA’s comment period on its proposed capital rule. The proposal was made public earlier this month with a 60-day comment period that began on July 1st. The rule is an update to a 2018 proposal by the agency.

The new proposal incorporates a number of significant changes that would meaningfully raise the level of capital the GSEs must hold above the 2018 proposal and makes it harder to structure the capital. As a result, these changes would have far-reaching impacts on the GSEs’ business models and their abilities to carry out their mission. NAR and the coalition have requested an additional 60 days for analysis and comment which would make the comment due by the end of October.

NAR Supports HUD Funding: NAR sent a letter to the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee for HUD’s FY2021 budget, requesting additional funding for fair housing and housing counseling. Specifically, NAR supports increases in Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to support private nonprofit enforcement of the Fair Housing Act (the Act), the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) and increased salaries and expenses for HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), the primary federal office charged with the  administration of the Act. We also support strong funding for HUD’s housing counseling program.

In January 2020, NAR launched its Fair Housing Action Plan (ACT!) in order to increase accountability, culture change, and training among the real estate profession. Increases in FHIP, FHAP and FHEO are consistent with this goal. In voicing its support for fair housing testing, NAR emphasizes that adequate funding must be made available to ensure testers are well trained, and adhere to the highest standards. Poorly-conducted tests unfairly tarnish our members and the reputations of the entire fair housing community.

The economic fallout of theCOVID-19 pandemic threatens the housing situation of so many Americans. As forbearance measures end, many homeowners may be struggling with their repayment plans. Housing counseling could be an effective tool to help them stay in their homes after the pandemic.

The House expects to finish work on the T-HUD budget bills before the August recess.

Administration Eases Regulatory Burden: On July 16, 2020, Brenda Small, Chair of the 2020 Public Policy Coordinating Committee, attended an event at the White House to bring attention to President Trump’s efforts to deregulate the American economy. Since taking office, President Trump’s deregulatory actions have cut regulatory costs by nearly $50 billion, with savings reaching $220 billion once major actions are fully implemented. Sixteen pieces of deregulation legislation signed by President Trump are expected to increase annual real incomes by more than $40 billion and will help save American households an estimated $3,100 each year.

Several actions of interest to REALTORS® related to President Trump’s deregulatory agenda include:

  • The White House Commission on Barriers to Affordable Housing, which seeks to investigate and eliminate regulations and other impediments to develop affordable housing;
  • Revising the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule, which now provides more certainty and transparency to determine what level of government regulates the country’s water bodies; and
  • Reforming the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is now more predictable and transparent, and will facilitate the development of critically needed transportation and infrastructure projects.Top of Form

NAR Support for Next Pandemic Relief Bill: Congressional leaders are negotiating another pandemic relief bill, which may not pass until August. NAR recently sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining key issues for REALTORS®, consumers, and the real estate industry. NAR urged continued focus on the housing security needs of Americans, increased consumer access to credit, and financial flexibility for businesses and independent contractors. This included several proposals to include or extend such as:

  • Mortgage and Rental Assistance, Forbearance Extensions, Eviction Moratoriums, and Funding for Housing Counseling Services;
  • Consumer Credit Protections, Mortgage Market Liquidity, and Regulatory Relief;
  • Limited Liability Protections, Unemployment Assistance Extensions, Federal Lending Program Modifications (EIDL, PPP, Fed Main Street), and Remote Online Notarization;
  • Broadband Access, and State and Local Government Support.

NAR remains ready to partner with policymakers on these and other measures, while continuing to advocate for REALTORS®, consumers, and the entire real estate industry.

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