The REALTOR® Advocate February/March

March 2, 2020

- By The MAR Legal Team

After a frenzied January, February took a slower pace at least in terms of state legislative issues, just before what we anticipate will be a blistering Spring. In the meantime, the MAR Legal Team worked on short-term rental forms and assisting several local associations to address issues including local short-term rental by-law proposals, local zoning proposals, and the General Electric settlement related to chemical contamination in the Berkshires. Read on to see all that happened, but first, check out our 2019 Year in Review video and report.

If you ever have any questions or comments on our advocacy efforts or just want to chat about a recent or upcoming meeting with your legislator, contact MAR Legislative and Regulatory Counsel Jonny Schreiber, or (781) 839-5520.

February Highlights

  • Local Issues – As municipalities ramp up for their spring town meetings, we urge you to keep an eye out for issues of concern.  Some that you may hear about include:
  • Transfer taxes – also called transfer fees, these proposals generally call for the creation of a local option bill that would impose a sales tax on homes.
  • Short-term rental regulations – the new state short-term rental tax law gives municipalities broad authority to enact local by-laws regulating short-term rentals.  While short-term rental savvy communities have generally taken a reasonable approach, we have seen several by-laws proposed that would all but end the practice in certain towns.
  • Zoning changes – this is a broad issue, but if you see anything related to zoning, we’re happy to analyze what the impact will be.  We’re particularly concerned about any additional fees or onerous inclusionary zoning proposals.
  • Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – also known as in-law suites, we generally support ADU production as a means of increasing housing and house values, but the true value of ADU proposals lies in the details.
  • Net Zero building and/or gas bans – as towns try to grapple with climate change issues, we are seeing an increase in proposals to move towards net-zero as well as bans on fossil fuel use.  We have serious questions over whether towns have the authority to take these steps and have actively challenged them.
  • If any of these issues or others are being discussed in your town, please reach out to Jonny Schreiber for assistance as needed.  While local lobbying is the purview of local associations, the MAR Legal Team is happy to assist as needed with legal analysis, talking points, and lobbying tips.
  • 2/25 – Continuing support of GreenWorks – The Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets held a hearing to consider GreenWorks (H.3997), the House’s climate resiliency bill which funds climate resiliency programs through bonding and passed last summer with our support.  We commented in favor of the bill and will continue working towards its enactment.


A Look Ahead: March 2020

There’s a lot coming our way in 2020. Here are a few things we’re anticipating:

  • Transportation Funding Bill – Though it is not directly tied to housing, transportation funding is an important statewide issue that we’re watching closely. It’s important to keep tabs on because Realtors® are invested in infrastructure discussions and also it will likely include a large funding component, which can have a ripple effect on other areas that also require revenue, such as affordable housing.
  • Senate Comprehensive Housing Bill – while it may not come out in March, we are keeping a close watch on the Senate for a forthcoming housing bill package.
  • Transfer Taxes – We will continue building on the momentum of our Call for Action to fight transfer taxes, while also exploring alternative funding mechanisms and strategies to help ease the housing crisis facing the state.
  • Housing Choices – The Administration and our advocacy coalition will continue our work in support of this much-needed bill.  We hope to gain some momentum and see the bill through to enactment.