This coming Monday kicks off the last two weeks of the First Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly. At this point, the House and Senate are irritated with each other. Fourteen bills have been Truly Agreed and Finally Passed. In addition, the Senate has passed 76 bills; the House 184. Including joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and bills, a total of 285 proposals have passed one house and are awaiting action in the second house. All things considered, it’s been a relatively low drama session.
Missouri REALTORS® legislative issues:
Low-Income Housing Tax Credits:
The House Committee on General Laws heard testimony regarding Senate Bill 28 (LIHTC) on Tuesday, April 30. Senate Bill 28 was passed by the Senate with a vote of 31 to 0 on February 21. It reported to the House on February 25.
The best and most compelling witness was Luke Beaman, a REALTOR® from Warsaw, Missouri, who dropped everything to come to Jefferson City and help dispel the continuing narrative that the only people who get tax credits are a small group of connected developers. Beamen was limited to two minutes as imposed by the Chair, but he did a great job telling his story. The description of “best and most compelling” is based on comments I received from colleagues and members of the General Assembly who have a lot of experience watching witnesses.
I can’t express strongly enough my appreciation for Beamen’s willingness to make the long rainy drive to Jefferson City to tell his story. I truly believe it made a difference.
On May 1, the committee convened to vote on SB 28. All things considered, it could have gone better. Rep. Travis Fitzwater had a three-part amendment which included a requirement that MHDC develop a transparent scoring system for the credits, put a hard cap on the credits ($123 million), and implement a provision that appears to allow the credits to be stripped and resold to a third party. The final stipulation is a little difficult to understand, at least for me, as I haven’t had an opportunity to discuss with competent counsel or CPA. The first part of the amendment is no problem, however, the second is somewhat of an issue only because it gives a target for further reduction and, as I stated before, the third part needs additional research. It will be before the House sometime in the next week or so, or not. Either way, there are other plans afoot.
Immunity dealing with area or square footage:
The Senate Committee on Professional Registration approved HB 106. In addition, language within HB 106 has been included in HB 705; an omnibus professional registration bill that is on the Senate Calendar. Furthermore, an amendment that clarifies when you must give notice as to who provided the measurements has been prepared for SB 36 in an effort to make it identical to HB 106. SB 36 is on the House Calendar.
Fresh Start Act:
There has been much back and forth negotiation going on with this issue. In a nutshell, some of the changes made in the proposal will make it more difficult for licensing boards to deny a person a license. Additionally, a case decided several years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the North Carolina Dental Board raises a question as to whether you should give licensing boards the ability to develop standards for a license, or if that right should be left to the General Assembly. The conflict revolves around the issue of the general exemption that state acts have from the federal anti-trust statutes. My question to counsel was, “if this bill is approved, would it be possible to bring an action and get it before a judge?” In general, the answer was yes. However, no opinion was given or sought as to the outcome of the case. It is certainly not clear cut, but by a simple re-draft of the proposal, you can avoid the entire problem.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has been working to forward his re-draft of the notary law and remote notarization. I’ve had several conversations with the Secretary and his staff, and I believe there is a decent chance that it can move this session.
I look forward to providing an update on these four issues.
Chief Lobbyist, Missouri REALTORS®