Welcome to the October-November 2019 edition of The Realtor Advocate.
For some helpful background information, check out our 3rd quarter update podcast, featuring MAR Government Affairs Chair, Amy Wallick. 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, email@example.com (781) 839-5520.
10/7 – Short-Term Rental Advocacy - MAR submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development in opposition to H.2936, a bill that would impose up to an additional three percent tax on short-term rentals located in tourism districts. Following the new short-term rental tax law, this would bring additional administrative burdens on Realtors® and total taxes on these accommodations to just under 21%.
10/10 – Flood Insurance – MAR sent letters to the MA federal delegation in support of NAR’s efforts to achieve long term reform and reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program.
10/15 – Equitable Use of Third Party Consultants – MAR submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government in support of H.1825/S.1200, requiring municipalities to establish lists of certified third-party consultants for use in permitting decisions, promoting development by streamlining and standardizing the permit review process. This concept is also included in our H.O.M.E. bill, which we testified in support of last month.
10/15 – Housing Choices Meeting – MAR met with Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo along with a diverse coalition of industry and advocacy groups supporting the Housing Choices bill.
10/15 – Private Utility Poles – MAR submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy opposing the provision of H.2854/S.1947, making real estate licensees liable for discovering and disclosing the ownership status of utility poles serving homes. Instead, we support S.2066, which would streamline the process of maintenance of private utility poles, private roads, and other shared benefits.
10/22 – Transfer Taxes – MAR submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Revenue opposing S.2318, which would impose a transfer tax in the town of Concord.
10/23 – Crumbling Foundations – MAR participated in a Realtor® panel discussion on crumbling concrete foundations. We successfully advocated for funding to help homeowners pay for foundation testing in the FY2020 budget. With more testing, we hope to gain a better understanding of the problem’s scope so we can work with policymakers on solutions.
10/24 – Lead Paint and Down Payment Assistance – MAR commented in support of two proposed amendments to S.2378, the Senate’s supplemental budget: Amdt. 2 would allocate $5 million for lead paint remediation loans and Amdt. 128 would allocate $10 million for first-time homebuyer down payment assistance programs. Neither amendment was included in the final Senate budget.
10/29 – Building Permit Surcharges - MAR submitted written comments to the Joint Committee on Housing opposing S.2317, which would impose a building permit surcharge in the town of Concord.
With the last day of formal sessions for 2019 scheduled on November 20, there is limited time this year to address myriad issues. Thankfully, the Legislature operates in a two-year cycle, so formal sessions will continue January 1, 2020 and run through July 30, when the 2019-20 cycle will close.
We also continue to advocate for our real estate licensee continuing education bill (H.288/S.147), which could be reported out of Committee (MAR testimony). Finally, we continue to anticipate that the Legislature will consider transportation funding and that the Senate will propose a climate resiliency and environmental package, similar to the House’s GreenWorks (H.3987) that passed unanimously in that body with MAR support.