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REcolorado

Government Affairs Monthly Report

05-01-2019

Local News – BLM Seeking Nominations for Advisory Board

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public nominations for its northwest resource advisory council, which consists of 15 residents with diverse interests in public land management, including conservationists, ranchers, outdoor recreationalists, state and local government officials and energy industry representatives.

The council provides advice to the BLM on public land issues and covers the BLM Northwest District, including the Colorado River Valley, Kremmling, Little Snake and White River field offices.

Nominations must be submitted by June 14 at blm.gov/get-involved/resource-advisory-council/apply. For more information, contact David Boyd at 970-876-9008 or dboyd@blm.gov.

Steamboat Holds Off Implementing Water Restrictions

Area water districts have decided not to implement mandatory Stage 2 water restrictions following a mostly cool and wet April, according to a news release from the city of Steamboat Springs.

As of Wednesday, May 1, the Tower Site on Buffalo Pass was reporting 131 inches of snow and a snow water equivalent of 53.6 inches, which is 115% of average. Overall, snowpack in the Yampa and White river basins is 107% of average.

“While the area has seen important rain and snow, we still need everyone to do their part, even without restrictions in place, to conserve water,” Public Works Director Jon Snyder said. “We’ll continue to monitor conditions and storage levels as we move into summer and will not hesitate to implement mandatory restrictions if required.”

State News - Colorado General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die

On Friday, May 3rd the final gavel came down on the first regular session of the 72nd General Assembly. In total, 653 bills were introduced in the 2019 legislative session. The Colorado Association of RELATORS® (CAR) tracked 89 bills this year that would affect our industry and the Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) took a position on 55 of them. With Democrats taking complete control over the state Senate, state House and Governor's Office after historic elections, the new majorities made 2019 a difficult session for the business community to navigate. However, CAR worked hard to educate new policymakers on how potential legislation could affect Colorado homeowners, property rights and the housing industry.

CAR is always on the frontlines fighting for Colorado REALTORS®, and here are some of the top issues that CAR worked on in 2019, straight from the Capitol:

1.) Rent Control Off the Table for 2019

SB-225 died on the calendar in the state Senate. If passed, SB-225, sponsored by Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver), Sen. Robert Rodriguez (D-Denver), Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver) and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver), would have repealed current Colorado statute prohibiting rent control on private residential real property or housing units. CAR's LPC strongly opposed the bill because it does not help us solve the affordable housing problem we are facing in Colorado and in fact, would deter investment in our communities and decrease home building, adding further stress to the insufficient supply of housing inventory across the state.

A lack of housing inventory is the main catalyst that drives home prices up. In the last six years, home prices have increased 44% while housing inventory has decreased by 13%. NAR research suggests that for every two new jobs, one single-family permit is issued, but right now we are seeing fewer single-family permits being issued across the entire Front Range. If we take the right steps to improve affordability, we give Coloradans a better future rather than a temporary solution that only builds a wall around a few haves at the expense of all the rest of the have-nots.


2.) Meaningful Affordable Housing Solutions

Improving housing affordability for all Coloradans requires us to take meaningful steps to increase the supply of housing availability for every spectrum of need. In 2019, CAR is proud to partner with Speaker Becker and other legislators to take significant strides to invest in short-and long-term affordable housing solutions for communities across our state. CAR is happy to announce that this first package of affordable housing bills passed third reading in the Senate this week and will head to the Governor's desk very soon.

HB-1228 - Expansion of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC):
Sponsored by Rep. Shannon Bird (D-Westminster), Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D-Aurora), raises the cap of total allowed state tax credits for the program from the current $5M to $10M. And raises private sector equity to support the development and preservation of affordable housing.

HB-1245 - Affordable Housing Funding From Vendor Fee Changes:
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Weissman (D-Aurora) and Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver), changes the sales and use taxes collected by vendors by increasing the existing state The increase in sales taxes attributable to the vendor fee will be allocated for the development of affordable housing administered under the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). The bill will also allocate funding to re-insurance legislation used to reduce the costs of insurance in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

B-1319 - Flexible Funding Opportunities and Incentives for Developers:
Sponsored by Rep. Shannon Bird (D-Westminster), Rep. Hugh McKean (R-Loveland), Sen. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) and Sen. Dennis Hisey (R-Fountain), creates two policy changes to support private and nonprofit developers in initiating financing and building affordable housing projects. Affordable housing developers have difficulty obtaining financing from lenders because the claw back creates a regulatory obstacle for lenders. HB-1319 requires the Legislative Council to publish an inventory of public lands suitable for affordable housing development, and limits that claw back of the property tax exemption to enable lenders to finance affordable housing more robustly.

HB-1322 - Expand the Supply of Affordable Housing:
Sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts (D-Avon), Rep. Perry Will (R-New Castle), Sen. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) and Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose), establishes a new state fund in the Division of Housing to provide sustainable funding for programs and projects that improve, preserve, or expand the supply of affordable workforce housing in Colorado. Revenue sources include General Fund, Unclaimed Property Trust Fund, Marijuana Cash Funds, and Gifts, Grants and Donations.

But our work to meaningfully address affordable housing has only just begun. CAR is already focusing on 2020 legislation, including expansion of the First Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program to give employers an opportunity to match their employee's contributions to their own savings accounts as a near-term device enabling both the employer and the employee to pitch in and contribute money faster to save for that first home purchase.

3.) Championed Long-Standing Deed Reform

CAR celebrated a big win for the real estate industry when Governor Polis signed HB-1098 into law on March 7th. HB-1098, sponsored by two-time CAR Legislator of the Year, Rep. Matt Gray (D-Broomfield) and Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs), is a common-sense public policy solution that fixes a longstanding problem concerning the authority to draft deeds conveying real property in a real estate transaction. Before this new law, only a licensed real estate broker was authorized to prepare a deed; however, the broker could delegate this limited authority to prepare the deed to a title company which then completed the deed under the direction and review of the broker.

CAR is proud to be a part the solution. Upon adoption of this change, the industry can expect reduced confusion, lessened disputes arising from the current contract form to transfer real property, and a clear public record of the real estate transaction.

4.) Funding for Wildfire Mitigation

HB-1006, sponsored by Rep. Barbara McLachlan (D-Durango), Rep. Terri Carver (R-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), creates a state grant program to fund proactive forest management and fuel reduction projects to reduce the impacts of wildfires to life, property and critical infrastructure. The bill appropriates $1 million dollars to the Department of Higher Education for allocation to the State Forest Service at Colorado State University (CSU) to fund forest management and fuel reduction projects from homeowners whose property is located within a community wildfire protection plan.

This is an important step to enable homeowners and communities together to tackle forest management and fuels reduction projects and lessen the devastating impact of wildfires and equip our communities with the tools and resources necessary to give residents more adequate risk mitigation funding to protect private property and the lives of our Colorado families and hardworking firefighters and emergency personnel.

5.) Protect Tenants and Property Owners and Preserve Affordable Housing

Thank you to Representatives Jackson, Galindo, Weissman and Senators Bridges and Williams for their collaboration with CAR to find ways to protect vulnerable single-family home populations as the legislators championed legislation to modify warranty of habitability and time period to cure late rent payments statutes that could protect tenants but also preserve necessary affordable housing for lower income Coloradans.

HB-1118, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Representative Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) and Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver), changes existing law to require a landlord or property manager to provide a tenant 10-day notice to cure a violation for unpaid rent or vacate the property as a result of any violation against the lease agreement before the landlord terminates the lease and initiates an eviction proceeding. Under existing law, a landlord was required to provide a tenant three days to remedy a violation.

And with important amendments, single family homes owned by a property owner with five or few rental homes receive more leniency under the new law, which allows our vulnerable military and elderly families the ability to protect their savings and investments on their fixed incomes or sudden mobility change in circumstances as they serve our nation honorably.

HB-1170, sponsored by Rep. Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Rep. Mike Weissman (D-Aurora), Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver) and Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village), modifies the implied warranty of habitability laws dealing with a residential lease between landlords and tenants. Current law presumes that every rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant carries an implicit guarantee that a residential property is fit for human habitation. This bill modifies the conditions that trigger a breach of the warranty of habitability, establishes a process for the tenant and landlord to deal with any potential safety problems with the premises, and creates time limits for the landlord to address defective conditions within a reasonable time frame.

CAR worked with the bill sponsors to find common ground on defining the types of conditions that would trigger property owner responsibilities to mitigate any safety concerns for the resident and help define a time period that allows the property owner to properly address these concerns with any potential work that must be completed to improve the habitability for a resident.

National News - NAR Attends White House Opportunity Zone Event; New Rules Out

NAR’s 2019 Commercial Liaison, Bob Turner from Memphis, TN, represented NAR at a White House event on the Qualified Opportunity Zone (“QOZ”) program on Wednesday, April 17. The QOZ program was created in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to revitalize underserved communities by providing tax incentives for certain investments into them, to promote development and create jobs. In connection with the event, the Treasury department released the much-anticipated second round of proposed rules for the program, which provide more specific detail on how investors can participate in the program and receive the full tax benefits it offers.

The keynote speaker of the White House event was the President, who emphasized the administration’s commitment to the success of the program, to drive economic growth through long-term investments in underserved areas, designated as “Opportunity Zones.” Under the program, taxpayers who reinvest capital gains from a previous sale into a fund for investing into a QOZ are eligible to defer paying taxes on those gains and can potentially reduce their tax liability by 10 – 15% (based on the amount of time they hold the investment). Additionally, if the investment is held for at least ten years, any appreciation on it is tax-free. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also spoke at the event.

This second round of rulemaking builds off previous proposed rules released in October 2018, fleshing out and clarifying many aspects of the program. They include:

  • Guidance on how to define the “original use” of a property in a QOZ, including vacant properties;
  • How to count inventory of a QOZ business (which may not be physically in the QOZ, or may be sold to customers outside of it) when determining QOZ business property;
  • The treatment of leased property within a QOZ for purposes of satisfying the program’s requirements;
  • How to meet the requirement that QOZ businesses derive 50% of their gross income from business activity in a QOZ;
  • Treatment of a QOZ business that straddles a QOZ; and
  • Clarity on and examples of events that cause inclusion of a deferred gain (a triggering event to pay capital gains taxes on reinvested gains) and the flexibility funds have to reinvest interim gains.

NAR will be analyzing the proposed rules and providing updated information on them in the coming days. For more information on this topic, visit the Qualified Opportunity Zones page.

New FHFA Director Sworn In

On Monday, April 15, NAR staff attended the swearing in ceremony of Dr. Mark Calabria to be the next Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Dr. Calabria has decades of experience in housing and finance policy, including time spent at NAR. NAR supported Dr. Calabria’s nomination, which included most recently, spearheading a coalition letterto the full Senate that lead to his confirmation on April 4 to a five-year term. At the ceremony, NAR joined a wide array of industry participants in supporting Director Calabria’s new role where he will be responsible for ensuring a reliable, stable, and liquid housing finance system that provides access to affordable mortgage credit for all creditworthy Americans.