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Government Affairs Monthly Report

08-1-2020

Routt County Commissioners Evaluate Local Economic Impact of COVID

A series of presentations on the state of the local and broader economy at the Routt County Board of Commissioners in late July revealed few surprises for the county leaders, but just as scant was the amount of good news amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the real estate market remains active, unemployment is up. The job market is down. Uncertainty and instability continue to be gloomy clouds obfuscating any sort of concrete understanding of what the coming weeks and months will bring.

But after weeks and months of the same, these announcements appeared to elicit fewer feelings of doom and gloom than somber resolve at continuing a path to recovery, however slow. There was a sense among the commissioners and those chiming in at the virtual Zoom meeting that the county already has survived the worst of the crisis and is ready to dress the wounds and face whatever else comes its way.

Routt County has the ninth-highest unemployment rate in Colorado at 13.1%, according to Jessica Valand, regional director for workforce development in Northwest Colorado. This is worse than the state average of 10.3% unemployment, though Valand anticipated such a discrepancy.

Resort-based communities have been among the hardest hit when it comes to job loss amid the pandemic, she explained. The counties with the worst unemployment rates, Gilpin and San Miguel, rely heavily on casinos and other tourist-based gaming activity that continue to operate at a fraction of normal due to public health restrictions.

It remains unclear how long the downturn will last, but businesses and consumers alike tend to believe it will take until next year to fully recover. Consumer confidence dropped steeply in March and April, though it has been slowly improving. In recent weeks, an increase in tourism to Routt County has helped spur revenues as families look for an escape from cramped urban areas. Creative solutions for businesses, such as expanding restaurant seating onto sidewalks and streets, also help.

But as the end of summer nears, some of these solutions will no longer be viable. Restaurant capacity will take a hit as snow and plummeting temperatures make eating outside intolerable. Confusion around how the school year will operate has parents fumbling to solidify their work plans. All of this creates uncertainty, a word that makes economists like Bristol pale in the face.

State News – Positions Available on CAR Advocacy Committees

The Colorado Association of REALTORS® is seeking applicants for two important committees that have a huge impact on legislation that affects the real estate industry as well as candidates and issues that appear on the ballot. I encourage anyone who is so inclined to apply for one of these positions.

LEGISLATIVE POLICY COMMITTEE (1-year term):

The Legislative Policy Committee monitors all legislation considered by the Colorado General Assembly; promotes or opposes any and all legislation which would have a favorable or negative impact on the real estate industry; proposes legislation that will improve the real estate industry’s operation; communicates on a regular basis with members and Boards of REALTORS® on legislative issues; and issues Calls-to-Action on state legislative matters. LPC members are appointed by the President. Local Associations are requested to make recommendations of members from their association who wish to serve. Application deadline is September 14, 2020. - https://www.coloradorealtors.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2021-LPC-application.doc

CAR POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (4-year term):

CARPAC is comprised of 19 members appointed by the CAR President. It consists of two members from each CAR District plus seven at-large appointments. In general, CARPAC will aid the local boards in providing political contributions to local candidates and issues. CARPAC will also make endorsements and political contributions to state-level candidates and issues; except that CARPAC will only provide a recommendation to the CAR Board of Directors for statewide constitutional officer candidates. Application deadline is September 14, 2020. https://www.coloradorealtors.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2021-LPC-application.doc

National News – NAR Supports Infrastructure Bill in Congress

In late July, NAR sent a letter supporting H.R. 2, a wide-reaching infrastructure bill with a number of NAR-supported provisions. This bill combines significant investment in surface transportation and mass transit, broadband access, water infrastructure, affordable housing, and other important provisions to make these systems more resilient and sustainable.

NAR supported traditional infrastructure issues such as significant increases in direct federal investments in surface transportation and mass transit systems; an extension of the Highway Trust Fund through October 1, 2025; incentives to encourage high-density, transit-oriented development; streamlining the costly federal permitting process while continuing to provide critical environmental protections; resources for communities to develop systems to better manage, utilize, and control their water, wastewater, and drinking water resources; and resources for communities to make their transportation and infrastructure systems more resilient and sustainable.

In addition, NAR supports a number of provisions related to affordable housing including: reform and modernization of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; private investment in community development and affordable housing through private activity bonds and the New Markets Tax Credit; and resources to preserve, protect, and expand affordable housing in rural communities.

Lastly, NAR supported expanded broadband, as well as energy efficiency measures to extend and expand the 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction and Home Energy Savings Retrofit Rebate Program.

The measure passed the House largely on a partisan basis. The Senate is expected to consider an infrastructure proposal later this summer, and NAR will work to see these provisions included.