The REALTOR® Advocate: June/July

June 30, 2020

- By The MAR Legal Team

Thank you all for making the Week of Advocacy such a success. We received a lot of great intel and feedback from Legislators and that doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work from everyone involved. We’re entering a particularly unique and interesting time, with the end of this two-year session approaching and the state still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19 on public health and the economy. However, we’re also slowly seeing some daylight for discussion of policy issues other than pandemic responses for the first time since the state of emergency was declared in March.

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.

May/June Highlights

We took a break from our regularly scheduled programming with our Week of Advocacy. As a result, this month’s edition will include a look back at our work from May and June.

  • 5/21 – Opposing Rent Control – MAR testified in opposition to H.4718, a bill before the Joint Committee on Housing that would establish rent control during the remainder of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
  • 5/21 – Opposing Right to Purchase – MAR testified in opposition to H.4517, another bill before the Joint Committee on Housing that would allow Somerville to enact a local “right to purchase” law which would give tenants a right of first refusal to purchase a residential property when put up for sale by its owner.
  • 6/5 – Opposing Rent Control – MAR provided comments to legislative leaders opposing two rent control bills, H.1316, and H.3924, two bills that received favorable reports from the Joint Committee on Housing. These bills and the issue of rent control were part of our Week of Advocacy talking points.
  • 6/26 – Supporting Economic Development – MAR testified in support of H.4529, the Governor’s economic development bill being considered by the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. The bill includes most provisions of Housing Choices (H.4263, another bill MAR supports) and significant investments in housing and development.

6/30 – State Housing Aid – Governor Baker announced the creation of a new program to provide direct rent and mortgage assistance. The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program will distribute $20 million in funds to help households that have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 state of emergency, dating back to April 1. The program aligns with MAR’s advocacy for additional housing assistance and specific talking points from our Week of Advocacy. Read more.

A Look Ahead: July 2020

We’re in a unique time right now, so it’s very hard to predict what July will look like. Currently, this two-year legislative session is set to expire at midnight on July 31. July, especially its end, typically means a flurry of bill movement and enactments. However, given current events and their economic impact, there are more questions than answers.

The biggest question as we heard in many meetings during the Week of Advocacy, is what happens with the budget. The state is currently operating on month-to-month budgets and facing a revenue shortfall of several billion dollars. There is some guarded optimism about receiving more funds from the Federal government, but also concerns given the political picture and traditionally slow pace of Federal legislation.

We are doing everything we can to be prepared for whatever happens this month, and potentially beyond, should the legislative session be extended. We look forward to keeping you updated on all the latest developments.