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Capitol Update: May 23, 2024 | 2024 REALTORS® Session Wrap-Up

By Missouri REALTOR Party posted 05-23-2024 02:55 PM

  

Missouri REALTORS®,

The 2024 Missouri Legislature slogged to adjournment on Friday, May 17, with the final gavel in the House falling more than three hours before the 6:00 p.m. constitutional deadline to end business.

The Senate actually quit work for the session on Friday morning - eight hours early - shortly after the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin said she only waited that long to make the motion to adjourn to allow senators to let tension die from the previous day’s squabbles. The House stayed in session for a few more hours, to take final votes on a few pending Senate bills.

Thousands of pieces of legislation were filed this session, with thousands more amendments offered during the process, yet the Missouri Independent reported: “In the end, only 28 non-budget bills found success this year. That’s fewer than the previous low-water mark in 2020, when only 31 bills passed because the legislative session was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Despite the challenges faced this session, we are pleased to report that several Missouri REALTORS® legislative priorities became reality. 

EVICTION MORATORIUM: House Bill 2062, sponsored by Representative Chris Brown of Clay County, and Senate Bill 985, sponsored by Senator Curtis Trent of Springfield, both passed, which would bar local governments from enforcing a moratorium on evictions unless specifically authorized by state law. From Kansas City Star coverage earlier this year: “Rep. Chad Perkins, a Bowling Green Republican who voted in favor of the bill, said on the floor Monday that municipalities enacted eviction moratoriums the first time they got a chance, an apparent reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like a thief in the night, those municipalities swept in and took those authorities away from the property owner, Perkins said. This is a property rights bill at its base.” 

LAND BANKS: House Bill 2062 was also amended to add land banks legislation, something we’ve sought for several straight sessions. Last month, Missouri REALTORS® President, Derek Schriewer, laid out the case for passing the bill, in a column for The Missouri Times:

“The legislation… provides that every county in Missouri can make local decisions if they choose to establish land banks – a sort of protective custody for any abandoned properties foreclosed for delinquent taxes or when the title is clouded for other reasons. The proposals being considered would ensure such properties have clear titles and no tax delinquencies, so they may be ready for a marketable sale, and per local decisions, they can be assembled into flexible clusters or sold individually. 

“For local governments, this would be an optional – not mandatory – tool for revitalizing old, neglected, or abandoned properties. This is the sort of welcome flexibility that can be customized for a specific local property situation, leaving decision-making with locally accountable officials. The legislation’s updates to current laws on court-ordered property sales will also make the properties more attractive to buyers.”


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: In addition to its provisions for land banks and eviction moratoriums, HB2062 included other provisions favored by Missouri REALTORS®, including prohibiting pre-sale inspections, enhancing methods to deal with illegal occupation of real property, and updates language on state Historic Tax Credits — which we’ve supported as a key economic development tool. Further, Senate Bill 802 included a bill originally introduced by Senator Curtis Trent, the Missouri Rural Access to Capital Act, which gives investors who meet certain criteria a potential tax credit for investments made to a fund investing in rural areas.

CITIZEN IP POWER PROTECTED: Last but not least, in a major victory for Missouri REALTORS® and democracy, attacks on Missouri citizens’ 116-year-old power of the initiative petition were defeated. 

Missouri REALTORS® took up this issue through a campaign committee named, “Missourians for Fair Governance,not because of a specific ballot initiative, but because of our past success the initiative petition process, and the desire to allow any Missourian that same right going forward. In 2010, Missouri REALTORS® was successful in prohibiting sales taxes from being imposed on services, and then in 2016, in prohibiting transfer taxes on real estate sales. Both efforts were done to save Missourians hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and for the benefit of property owners.

Missouri REALTORS® President Derek Schriewer issued the following statement on behalf of the Missourians for Fair Governance once the challenges to the current process failed:

“Thanks to stalwart efforts by legislative protectors of Missouri citizens' initiative power, this assault on the principles of majority rule and one-person, one-vote has been stopped. This is a victory for all Missourians, and Missouri REALTORS® are honored to have led principled opposition to this attack on our citizens' rights. This has been a wake-up call for Missouri citizens to stay vigilant against schemes to trick them into forfeiting their freedom.”

MONA: Finally, while Senate Bill 787, the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA), received REALTORS® endorsement during a Senate hearing one month before adjournment, no further action was taken by legislators. Missouri REALTORS® will continue to support MONA going forward, to extend protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in employment, housing, and public accommodations to all.

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Summing up the 2024 session, Missouri REALTORS® Chief Lobbyist Sam Licklider called it the “most bizarre” he has seen in 50 years. His assessment was widely shared, including by Dave Drebes, publisher of the Missouri Scout daily politics newsletter. In a St. Louis Business Journal column headlined, “State gridlock has hampered business growth. Will it continue?,” Drebes made several astute observations:

“The Missouri legislature just completed perhaps its least productive session in the history of the state. 

While some believe things will improve next year, the Missouri legislature seems to be stuck in a rut. Three of the past five years have been among the least productive in the state’s history. It feels as if some underlying malaise has set in. If so, an unproductive legislature may be the new normal in Missouri.”


Yet despite these challenges, the progress made on the issues noted is to be celebrated. This is due in thanks to hundreds of REALTORS® who made the trek to Jefferson City throughout session to make personal visits with lawmakers, the many members who support the Missouri REALTORS® Party, and last but not least the legislative staff and lobbying teams at Missouri REALTORS®, most notably, Erin Hervey, Jason Zamkus, and Sam Licklider. 

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