December 2019

Government Affairs Update for December 27, 2019

Cuomo proposes a panel to re-examine high-speed rail in New York State
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to convene a panel that would reexamine and rethink strategies to bring high-speed rail to New York as part of his 2020 State of the State agenda. The Governor has announced several proposals prior to his State of the State address, which is scheduled for January 8, 2020. For more information on the proposal to develop a high-speed rail strategy, see here.

Cuomo vetoes affordable housing legislation for the East End of Long Island
Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation that would have allowed five towns on the east end of Long Island to establish a supplemental 0.5 percent real estate transfer tax for the purpose of supporting affordable housing. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I – Sag Harbor) says the legislation would have reduced taxes for 60 percent of the region’s properties, although higher-end properties would see a tax increase. The Governor’s veto message said the bill may be unconstitutional and should be considered as part of the state budget. For more information see here.

New York City Councilmembers propose “gentrification” tax
A bipartisan coalition of 13 City Councilmembers is proposing to levy property taxes on new home buyers in New York City-based on the actual market value of their properties, rather than the assessed value. The councilmembers are supporting a resolution requesting that state lawmakers approve changes to the tax law. The resolution comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s property tax reform commission has yet to release its initial report. For more information see here.

Government Affairs Update for December 20, 2019

Nassau County passes coop transparency bill
Following years of advocacy efforts by the Long Island Board of REALTORS®, the Nassau County Legislature passed Local Law 489-19 in a 16-1 vote to provide transparency in the coop purchase process by requiring coop boards to acknowledge receipt of an application within 15 days and respond to an applicant within 45 days. Failure to respond to applicants could result in a fine of up to $2,000. Presiding Officer, County Legislator Richard Nicolello said the bill was necessary so that “coop boards can’t just defeat applications by holding onto [them] interminably.” Read more here.

Cities of Albany and Rochester approve vacancy rate studies
The Albany Common Council and Rochester City Council approved separate measures calling on their respective mayors to conduct a housing vacancy rate study to determine eligibility of opting into the state’s rent stabilization laws. A rental housing vacancy rate of five percent or less is required for municipalities considering adopting rent stabilization laws. NYSAR is working with local REALTOR® boards to engage state and local lawmakers on this issue to express opposition to the expansion of these laws.

Congress passes spending bill extending NFIP and mortgage debt forgiveness retroactively
On December 19, Congress passed a federal funding bill with key REALTOR® provisions, including extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 2020, a reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program to help commercial practitioners secure financing, and extending retroactively the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt from gross income for tax purposes through 2020. President Trump is expected to sign the bill. Read more here.

Gov. Cuomo signs NYSAR-supported AMC bill into law
On December 16, Governor Cuomo signed into law NYSAR-supported legislation (A.8024/S.6249), which provides clarification on the permissibility of licensed real estate professionals to perform certain non-appraisal services and property valuation tasks, such as Broker Price Opinions, for appraisal management companies (AMCs).

Government Affairs Update for December 13, 2019

NYSAR testifies at Senate hearing addressing discrimination
On Thursday, NYSAR President Moses Seuram and CEO Duncan MacKenzie testified at a state Senate hearing to address allegations of illegal discrimination by real estate agents on Long Island following an investigation by the news outlet Newsday. NYSAR has been a long-standing advocate in the fight against illegal housing discrimination and took immediate action condemning the behavior reported in the investigation. NYSAR has pledged to work with New York State officials toward a shared goal of combating illegal housing discrimination and protecting Fair Housing.

House Ways and Means Committee votes to temporarily repeal SALT deduction cap
The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would provide a two-year suspension of the $10,000 SALT deduction cap that was imposed in 2017 in President Trump’s tax reform act. The House committee voted primarily along party lines 24-17 to advance the bill with Rep. Tom Reed voting in support of the measure. The bill would also raise the cap for married couples to $20,000 for 2019, addressing the fact that under current law, the cap is $10,000 both for single filers and married couples filing jointly. Learn more.

Government Affairs Update for December 6, 2019

NYSAR submits testimony on independent contractor legislation
On December 5, NYSAR submitted written testimony at an Assembly public hearing held to examine proposals that could extend labor rights and protections to gig economy workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, and eliminate independent contractor status for various professions. NYSAR strongly believes that any legislation should provide an exemption for real estate licensees. NYSAR also attended a Senate public hearing in October on this topic and will continue working with state lawmakers to have our concerns addressed and seek the exclusion of real estate licensees from any legislative proposals.

New York State faces $6 billion budget deficit
Governor Cuomo is projecting a $6.1 billion budget deficit heading into next year, caused by a $4 billion increase in Medicaid spending, according to the administration’s midyear fiscal report. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Tuesday that his chamber will likely prioritize raising revenue next year rather than scaling back health care services to close the budget deficit. The governor is scheduled to give his budget address in January. Read more here.

State Senators George Amedore and Betty Little will not seek re-election
State Senators Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) announced over the week they will not seek reelection in 2020. Senator Little was elected to the Senate in 2003 after serving seven years in the Assembly. Senator Amedore was elected to the Senate in 2015 and served seven years in the Assembly.

Flood Insurance Extended to December 20, 2019
Congress extended the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through Dec. 20 avoiding any lapse. The NFIP is being extended as part of the Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating while Congress works on 2020 appropriations measures over the next month. Now that NFIP is attached to the CR, there is less chance of a lapse in December.