The REALTOR® Advocate January/February

February 3, 2020

- By The MAR Legal Team

Wow, what a start to the year! January was a whirlwind, with formal session resuming and moving at a rapid pace.  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 Staff Attorney Jonny Schreiber, or (781) 839-5520.

January Highlights

  • Opposing Transfer Taxes – MAR ran a call for action opposing transfer taxes from 1/5-1/29.  2,795 members (11.2%) participated by contacting their legislators. In addition, on 1/14, MAR distributed letters to the entire Legislature opposing transfer taxes. Our State Political Coordinators provided targeted feedback to their Legislators between 1/13-1/27. In response to this advocacy, the sponsor of H.1769 sent his own letter to all Legislators erroneously stating several facts related to our position. On 1/28, we submitted testimony opposing a transfer tax proposed for Truro, MA. We will continue outreach to Legislators to explain why transfer taxes are a harmful policy. Read our one-pager on this issue.
  • 1/2 – Protecting Residents with Private Infrastructure – MAR testified in support of S.2066, which would provide a framework for property owners to create the maintenance processes needed to maintain private ways, bridges, and other common amenities. This would benefit homeowners in the upkeep of shared private infrastructure and also provide notice and clarity to potential buyers.  Read our full testimony.
  • 1/6 – Crumbling Concrete – MAR Associate Counsel, Catherine Taylor, accompanied a group of Realtors® and Rep. Brian Ashe in visiting the University of Massachusetts Geology Lab to learn more about pyrrhotite and crumbling concrete.  To learn more about this issue, see the report of the special state commission on this issue.
  • 1/14 – Opposing Rent Control – MAR testified in opposition to rent control and several other proposals at a Joint Committee on Housing hearing.  Read our full testimony on the following: H.3924 Rent ControlH.1316 Rent ControlH.1254 Late FeesH.1259 Rent EscrowS.802 Bed Bugs.
  • 1/15 – Government Affairs Committee – The Committee discussed a local transfer tax toolkit and potential licensing law revisions. NAR Political Representative Kristian Hoysradt presented on NAR’s political accomplishments in 2019 and upcoming federal elections in Massachusetts.
  • 1/22 – Governor’s 2021 State Budget – The Governor released his budget proposal for FY2021. Unlike his FY2020 proposal which proposed a transfer tax, this budget did not contain any provisions of concern. Read more.
  • 1/23 – Short-Term Rental Clarification – MAR successfully advocated for clarification that short-term rentals for longer than 31 days do not need to register or pay taxes under the new short-term rental law or regulations. This clarification provides much-needed clarity, without which rentals of any length could be required to register with the state.
  • 1/30 – Senate Climate Bills – The Senate debated three climate change bills, S.2476, S.2477, and S.2478. MAR submitted testimony opposing a proposal mandating a net-zero building code in S.2477. MAR also commented on five amendments proposed for the bill, supporting two that would require ratepayer consideration in climate change measures and opposing three – reducing the timeline for a net-zero building code, mandatory energy scoring, and mandatory rooftop solar installation. Unfortunately, an amended version of the net-zero timeline amendment was included in the final bill, requiring the net-zero code to be developed, adopted, and incorporated as a building code appendix within 1 year of the bill’s enactment. The Senate passed the bill that evening.


A Look Ahead: February 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.
  • 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.