March 2019

Government Affairs Update for March 29, 2019

NYSAR Call for Action – Oppose Real Estate Tax Increase Proposal
The State Legislature and Governor Cuomo are considering an increase in the real estate transfer tax in the final days of budget negotiations. Action on a final state budget is expected before April 1, 2019. We need you to tell your state lawmakers and Governor Cuomo that you oppose increasing the real estate transfer tax in this year’s state budget. New Yorkers already face some of the highest-in-the-nation taxes when trying to buy a home and this proposal will only exacerbate the problem. Take Action here.

State Senate advances continuing education bill
On March 19, the State Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance NYSAR-supported legislation (S.3839/A.6082) that would expand core requirements related to continuing education for real estate licensees. The bill would also eliminate the “grandfathering” exemption for continuing education. NYSAR will continue to monitor the progress of the bill, which requires approval from the full Senate, Assembly and the governor before becoming law.

NAR Testifies on GSE Reform
On March 27, Vince Malta, NAR President-Elect, presented testimony at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing emphasizing the need for bipartisan congressional action on GSE reform. NAR applauded Chairman Crapo’s (R-ID) proactive efforts to continue the conversation of housing finance reform through the introduction of his housing finance outline. Read more here.

Government Affairs Update for March 22, 2019

NYSAR meets with NYC Councilmembers on rental broker fee cap proposal
On Wednesday, REALTORS® met with New York City Councilmembers Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera, both representing districts in Manhattan, regarding a city bill that would cap the number of fees that a real estate broker could charge for rentals to one month’s rent. REALTORS® expressed concerns with the proposal and will continue to work with city councilmembers to provide information on the potential impacts of the legislation.

NYSAR submits a comment on fire sprinkler code
On March 15, NYSAR submitted public comment to the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council in opposition to any mandatory requirements forcing homeowners and homebuyers to install residential fire sprinkler systems. The Code Council is considering amendments to the State Uniform Code and will be voting to adopt new codes later this year. NYSAR will continue to monitor and engage state regulators on this issue.

State Budget deadline approaches, consensus on spending
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo and state legislators announced an agreement on budget table targets, which represent the funding allotments for legislative committees to spend for the year. Budget negotiations still continue on a number of state issues, however, including proposals to make the property tax cap permanent, impose a pied-a-terre tax and congestion pricing in New York City, raise state income taxes on the wealthy, public campaign finance reform, legalizing marijuana, and addressing state education and health care funding. Read more here.

Trump administration announces changes to NFIP
The Trump administration on Monday announced changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program charges homeowners for flood risks. The revamp, which will begin to go into effect next year, could lead to higher flood insurance rates for some homeowners and lower costs for others, depending on new data points that officials say will provide a more accurate picture of potential perils facing individual properties. Read more here. NAR recently testified before the House Financial Services Committee on draft legislation to reform the NFIP.

Government Affairs Update for March 15, 2019
NYSAR-supported coop transparency bill introduced in Assembly
State Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Nassau) introduced a newly drafted bill (A.6194) to provide transparency in the application and purchase process involved in cooperative housing statewide. State Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), Chair of the Senate Housing Committee, will be introducing the bill in the Senate. NYSAR has been a strong advocate on this issue and will continue to work with the state legislature and interested parties to enact this legislation.

State Senate and Assembly release respective budget amendments
On Tuesday, the State Senate and Assembly released their budget amendments to Governor Cuomo’s executive budget proposal, which he released earlier this year. The two houses staked out their positions on policy and tax issues ahead of final budget negotiations in the coming weeks. The Assembly and Senate signaled support for a pied-a-terre tax. The Assembly included a tax rate increase on New Yorkers earning over $5 million and did not include a permanent property tax cap in its budget proposal. The Senate is prioritizing campaign finance reform, making the tax cap permanent, and increasing education aid. An on-time budget is due before April 1, 2019.

State Senate investigates upstate code enforcement issues
State Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) announced that that the Senate Oversight and Investigations Committee, which he chairs, is working with municipalities in Albany, Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties to investigate code violation problems, including landlord violations and court system challenges. The committee plans to hold a public hearing and will issue a report on its findings. Read more here.

NAR testifies before House Financial Services Committee to renew NFIP
On Wednesday, NAR 2020 Vice President Mabel Guzman testified before the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), to urge Congress to adopt a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) along with meaning reforms. Rep. Waters has shown support for long-term reauthorization efforts. NAR continues to work with Congress to advance this important issue before the program is set to expire on May 31, 2019, following a series of short-term extensions. NAR testimony can be read here.

Government Affairs Update for March 8, 2019

NYSAR President Moses Seuram and Leadership Team advocate for REALTORS® in D.C.
2019 NYSAR President Moses Seuram, along with President-Elect Jennifer Stevenson, Secretary/Treasurer David Legaz, and Legislative Committee Chair Tom McCarthy met with Senator Charles Schumer and New York’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. this week advocating for REALTOR® issues on the federal level. Issues discussed included a retroactive extension of the Mortgage Debt Relief provision, reforming the limit on SALT deductions, long-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, and expanding access to credit through GSE reform. NAR’s 2019 federal advocacy agenda can be found here.

Gov. Cuomo says state budget must make 2% tax cap permanent or he will not sign
On March 6, Governor Cuomo released a statement saying that he will not sign a state budget that does not include a permanent 2 percent property tax cap. Read more here. The governor and his budget director have also stated that the state is looking at imposing a pied-a-terre tax on non-primary homes in New York City worth over $5 million as possible revenue to fund the MTA.

Gov. Cuomo and Legislature fail to reach revenue consensus for the state budget
Due to the lack of consensus on state revenue estimates between Governor Cuomo and leaders in the state legislature, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was tasked with providing a binding revenue forecast which will guide the process of finalizing a state budget, due before April 1. Comptroller DiNapoli’s revenue projections include $190 million above the governor’s estimates, however, this figure is well below estimates from the state legislature. Read more here.

Government Affairs Update for March 1, 2019

State releases report on first-time home buyer savings account program
The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) released a report this month studying the opportunities and implications of enacting a statewide first-time home buyer tax-advantaged savings account program. The state agency was directed to conduct the study in a 2018 law that was a result of years-long NYSAR efforts to urge state lawmakers to create the program. While the state agency expresses its support for improving homeownership opportunities for New Yorkers in the report, it fails to provide a deep-dive into the economic benefits associated with increased home purchases. NYSAR continues to support the full implementation of a statewide first-time home buyer savings account program. Read the full DHCR report here.

Jumaane Williams elected NYC Public Advocate
On February 26, New York City voters elected Democratic City Councilman Jumaane Williams to the office of Public Advocate with 33 percent of the vote, defeating 16 other candidates in a special election. Voter turnout was about 9 percent city-wide. Williams fills the seat following the early departure from Letitia James who won the election for state Attorney General last November. A primary election for Public Advocate is already scheduled for this June, followed by a general election in November. Read more here.

State Assembly releases revenue report ahead of budget
The State Assembly released its economic and revenue report for 2019 with state tax receipt projections $762 million higher than the Executive forecast. Differences are attributable to varying economic projections. These economic projections will be used to negotiate a final state budget spending plan between the governor and the state legislature, which is due before April 1. Read the Assembly revenue forecast here.