Short-Term Rental Regulations
Just before the end of the quarter, the Department of Revenue released draft regulations
for the new short-term rental law. We continue to advocate for changes and clarifications but were pleased to see that the regulations responded to many of our advocacy efforts by exempting from the tax security deposits and optional, separately stated charges for services provided by another vendor, such as airline tickets, a whale watch, ferry tickets, or trip insurance. See our full writeup of the draft regulations and Realtor® responsibilities here
State Legislative Advocacy
In the second quarter, MAR testified in seven (7) hearings on sixteen (16) bills. That’s too many to describe in depth here, but we hope you’ll follow the links on the right side of the chart below to read our testimony.
Opposing Mandatory Energy Scoring
At the end of May, former MAR President, David Wluka, testified before the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee in opposition to mandatory energy auditing bills. David has vast experience as a Realtor®, with green home technology, and in policy discussions. He has previously testified before Congress on this issue.
Our written testimony provides an in depth analysis of how mandatory energy scoring bills hurt homeowners, burden the real estate market, violate private property rights, raise constitutional concerns, and do not provide homeowners with any resources not currently available to them. David’s oral testimony focused narrowly on the disparate impact these bills would have and the need for carrots rather than sticks in promoting energy efficiency measures. With the state in the midst of a housing affordability crisis, David explained these bills would harm the most vulnerable homeowners.
Opposing Transfer Taxes and Supporting GreenWorks
June 18th was a busy day for us at MAR. As you may have noticed in the table above, we testified before both the Revenue and Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committees on that day. MAR Government Affairs Committee Chair, Amy Wallick, testified before the Revenue Committee after a six -hour wait(!!). She, along with MAR General Counsel & Director of Government Affairs, Justin Davidson, Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) Government Affairs Chair Laurie Cadigan, and GBREB’s Director of Government Affairs, Patricia Baumer shared concerns about the Governor’s proposed climate resiliency bill, S.10, which would fund climate change resiliency infrastructure through an increase to the state transfer tax. Specifically, the bill would increase the deeds excise tax by 50%.
Amy explained that Realtors® support climate resiliency measures, but have grave concerns about funding them through transfer taxes. Amy recommended promoting policies that lower housing costs in Massachusetts, not make them more expensive. She also noted that increasing the deeds excise also carries grave tax policy implications, undermining the basic tenet of fairness by arbitrarily forcing home buyers and sellers to be the sole direct funders of a trust fund benefitting the entire community. Her testimony had an impact on Legislators, hearing attendees, and journalists.
On the same day, MAR Staff Attorney, Jonathan Schreiber and GBREB CEO Greg Vasil testified on climate resiliency, in support of the GreenWorks bill before the Telecommunications, Energy and Utilities Committee. They shared how GreenWorks accomplishes the goals of S.10, but does so through bonding, a more equitable funding source. Their comments were included in reports from the State House News Service and Banker & Tradesman (paywall).
Supporting Realtor® Continuing Education
Less than a week after her testimony before the Revenue Committee, Amy Wallick returned to the State House to testify in support of a pair of bills (H.288/S.147) that would improve continuing education opportunities for real estate licensees before the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.
The bills would empower the Real Estate Board to adjust its continuing education (CE) rules and regulations, without otherwise changing the existing statutory CE requirements. This change would bring the Real Estate Board in line with the vast majority of boards governing CE of other licensed professions. Should this bill become law, the Board could use it to consider CE improvements such as:
- Approving in-person one-hour courses;
- Approving in-person courses taken at out-of-state conferences or taught by out-of-state instructors;
- Permitting online courses that are two (2) hours long or shorter and taught by out-of-state instructors;
- Providing alternative paths to course credit, such as through teaching a course or researching real estate issue for a report, article, or thesis with Board approval.
These types of rules are the norm in many nearby states.
We will continue to advocate on these and other bills that matter to you. Keep an eye on the blog for all the latest developments.
The state budget deadline of June 30 has come and gone. Differing versions of the FY2020 budget have passed both the House and Senate and a consensus version is being finalized by a conference committee. Though it is running a little late, state leaders have not indicated any cause for concern and have enacted stop-gap funding to keep the government running through the end of July.
Realtors® Advocating Near and Far
Mid-year in DC
In mid-May, we took our grassroots advocacy on the road, traveling to Washington, DC to meet with our federal representatives and participate in NAR’s midyear meetings. We had productive meetings with all of our members of Congress or representatives from their offices. Special thanks to our Federal Political Coordinators for all their work preparing and leading our meetings:
More details on the issues we discussed are available here.
We were also privileged to attend a discussion on infrastructure with Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh and visit with them afterwards. It was a great opportunity for members to hear from two of Massachusetts top elected officials on an important issue and to visit with them outside of the state.
To see all the pictures from our trip, check out our Facebook album.
Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill
In mid-June, we were back at it again, this time with more than 400 members bringing our message to Beacon Hill. Members, led by our State Political Coordinators (SPCs), spoke knowledgably with their Legislators on major issues such as increasing housing production, promoting homeownership, improving real estate licensee continuing education, and opposing transfer taxes and mandatory energy scoring. Click here for more details on our priorities. We’re working hard to continue growing the SPC program, so if you our any Realtor® you know is interested in helping to lead our state grassroots advocacy efforts, please contact MAR Staff Attorney Jonathan Schreiber.
To see all the pictures from this event, click here.
As you can see, we had a busy second quarter and the third quarter is shaping up to be more of the same.
If you have any questions about anything in this write-up or would like to learn more about MAR’s advocacy efforts, contact MAR Staff Attorney Jonathan Schreiber, firstname.lastname@example.org, (781) 839-5520.