About 20% of Virginia REALTORS® have had to make the unfortunate decision to go without health insurance because of the high costs and limited options available to them. Many others have plans that place a high financial burden on their families.
Several bills in the Virginia General Assembly could help address that problem by more coverage options that could possibly save you money.
Tell you state senators and delegates to support these commonsense health insurance solutions. https://bit.ly/2Dz4dFR
The first full week of the General Assembly Session is in the books! Session officially began on January 9th, and the first few days afterwards were Committee and Caucus organizational meetings, agency presentations and “light” legislative action that did not require a wholesale overview to our members with much news of interest. However, this past week saw much of our agenda receive attention and action. With that in mind, I drafted the attached update to provide a brief overview of where we are playing and having input….and it is widespread, as you can see!
Things are good and positive for us, and we continue to make solid inroads with the House and Senate Democratic Caucus, an important component to our work and that of the overall business community; there is a collective sense that the Dems will take the majorities in both the House and the Senate in the November 2019 elections, so there is a need for them to have a solid understanding of our issues.
Please know the effort and the accomplishments, and the influence of VPAR throughout the General Assembly that extends well beyond our delegation.
I am working on the PPC agenda for our January 29th meeting, as well as scheduling legislative meetings and Capitol meetings for that day. It is coming together nicely!
Stay tuned. Good things are happening!
Susan S. Gaston
The Gaston Group, LLC
A Virginia-Based Government Relations and Public Affairs Firm
205 Par Drive
Williamsburg, Virginia 23188
October 15th is the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming November General Election. While more than 88 percent of Virginia REALTORS® are registered to vote, we can do better. If you’re not registered to vote or you’ve moved and need to update your registration, the deadline is approaching.
Eligible residents can visit vote.virginia.gov and register online with the Virginia Department of Elections. You can also check your registration status, find out information on absentee voting, and learn about what items will appear on your November 6th ballot.
Our goal is to have 100% of our members registered and at their polling place on Election Day. Register today so you can vote for candidates who support REALTOR® issues and policies that protect your business, community, and the rights of private property owners.
Public Policy Report
“The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy – the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities – which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.”
— Ronald Reagan, American Statesman and Actor, 40th President of the United States (1981-1989)
Terry O’Neill, Director of Community Development for the City of Hampton; Steve Schapiro, City of Hampton Director of Codes Compliance; and members of their staff presented information to the Public Policy Committee at its July 10th meeting regarding RESILIENT HAMPTON, the City’s plan to address recurrent flooding and sea level rise in Hampton. The City soon will be reviewing all of its ordinances and municipal code sections to assess the connection to mitigation and flood prevention in the City; the City will seek VPAR’s input and commentary. VPAR will look for model ordinance language that might be accessible at NAR. The power point may be found here: https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/07151878-96a3-4729-a3fd-ba1c8fd6f595.
The team also provided the Committee with an overview of the City’s Development Services Center, where permit applications are submitted, reviewed and arbitrated. Concerns have been surfacing in recent months that the Center is inefficient when compared to neighboring permit offices; the City staff sought to debunk that perception with data demonstrating the opposite. To view the information, click here: https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/e1d1b727-2e63-4bd9-be5f-50d2c48b45be The City is establishing a Development Services Center Customer Oversight Committee and would like VPAR representation on the group; Public Policy Committee members Larry Townsend and Peggy Todd have expressed interest.
City of Newport News Comprehensive Plan
Britta Ayers, Director of Comprehensive Planning, City of Newport News, provided an update to the Committee on the City’s Comprehensive Plan, as well as the Ft. Eustis/Langley Air Force Base Joint Land Use Study. The final draft of the Plan can be found here: https://www.nnva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/16134/Comprehensive-Plan-2040—Draft?bidId= VPAR has been extremely active in this effort, having served on the Plan Advisory Committee and having had Newport News Planning Staff join us repeatedly in recent years to receive VPAR’s input and insight. Note the user-friendliness, the streamlining, the graphics and the overall readability of the revised Plan!
Isle of Wight County
In conversations with members of the County’s Board of Supervisors, the County continues to pursue economic development opportunities, which likely will expand the County’s need for additional housing. In other economic development news, Chris Morello, formerly with the City of Newport News Economic Development Department, has taken the position of Interim Director of the County’s Economic Development Department.
The County is beginning the process of reviewing and rewriting its Comprehensive Plan, a five-year guide to focus on the County’s land use, development, housing, transportation, public safety, recreation and overall mission as a Virginia community. This is a very intense but important process as the County works with stakeholders to craft where it wants to be over this next period. VPAR Public Policy Committee Members Sandra Hood and Kaera Mims, both York County residents and members of the VPAR Board of Directors, have expressed interest to the County in representing VPAR on the stakeholders group. Susan Gaston, your Legislative Consultant, has been asked by the County to serve as an “industry expert.” Stay tuned!
ONGOING ADVOCACY ISSUES
Evictions Study in Hampton and Newport News
VPAR has been participating in multiple discussions and roundtables regarding the ongoing issue of eviction rates in Hampton and Newport News. President Burt attended a roundtable discussion on July 10th hosted by the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula. President Burt, Susan Gaston and Public Policy Committee members, and respected property managers, Jack Hunter, Russell Skidmore and David Whitley all participated in an invitation-only roundtable hosted on July 17th hosted by Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax.
There is concern that the region has been unfairly targeted in the evictions data; more study is being conducted to assess numbers from the Sheriffs’ offices to make sure that the data is accurate and is reflective of what actually is happening. There is consensus among stakeholders that Virginia’s landlord-tenant laws are some of the best in the nation in terms of defining a process that is protective of tenants’ rights and also protective of landlord investments, but there are systems within the legislative framework that could be improved.
On that topic, the Virginia Housing Commission, chaired by Sen. Mamie Locke (D-2nd) of Hampton, has been holding meetings of its Evictions Subcommittee whose membership includes Chip Dicks, Legislative Council to VR, and Martin Johnson, Chief Lobbyist for VR; the Subcommittee is chaired by Laura Lafayette, the CEO of the Richmond Association of REALTORS®. A variety of policy ideas and potential statutory changes are being considered by the Subcommittee.
Multiple conversations on this topic are held each week with the Legislative Consultant and members of the Peninsula General Assembly Delegation, most notably, with Sen. Mamie Locke, former Mayor of Hampton and the Chairwoman of the Virginia Housing Commission. Discussions also have taken place with both Mayors, City Managers and the former Mayor of Hampton. Additional discussions are occurring regularly with VR’s Martin Johnson on the issue and on potential policy solutions that could translate into legislation for 2019.
VR’s Public Policy Committee met on July 26th to begin its initial review of proposed legislation for the 2019 General Assembly Session. VPAR Member Peggy Todd is the Vice Chair of the VR PPC and attended the meeting! More to come! (Just be aware that it is never too late to offer a suggestion if you know of an issue that needs a legislative fix!)
NFIP EXTENSION HAS PASSED THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE!
With a final vote of 86-12 in the Senate on July 31st, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been extended to November 30, 2018. The House passed the measure the previous week on a vote of 366-52. The bill now goes to the President for his signature, which could be within a matter of hours.
REALTORS® have been urging extension of the program for months. Almost 125,000 REALTORS®, or roughly 15 percent of the NAR membership, sent letters to their federal representatives in support of the extension.
Although major reforms are needed to the NFIP, the extension will protect over 40,000 transactions PER MONTH across the nation are at risk of not closing? YES – 40,000 PER MONTH!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP IN PASSING THIS IMPORTANT LEGISLATION!
Fannie Mae Student Loan Reforms
Millennials locked out of their homeownership dreams by high debt-to-income ratios and student loan debt will soon have reason to take another look at purchasing, thanks to a number of policy changes at Fannie Mae.
First, Fannie Mae recently announced that beginning July 29, they will accept borrowers with debt-to-income ratios, or DTI, as high as 50 percent, up from 45 percent today.
The National Association of Realtors® has pushed the Federal Housing Finance Agency – which has jurisdiction over Fannie Mae – to open the “credit box” for strong borrowers who find themselves sidelined by high fees and excessively strict underwriting.
In the push to aid more millennial homebuyers, Fannie Mae also announced changes to the way they treat student debt. Fannie Mae acknowledged that the way it counts student debt payments against a borrower’s DTI isn’t always reflective of the payment a borrower actually makes on a monthly basis. Instead, the calculation may consider an arbitrary percentage of the loan, which for borrowers on income-driven repayment plans could reflect a significantly higher payment, thus inflating their DTI.
Fannie Mae now will take a borrower’s actual monthly payment into account when calculating a borrower’s DTI. This change reflects NAR policy on streamlining income-based repayment programs.
See more information here in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A_i–BpeKw
VPAR’S LEGISLATIVE CONSULTANT IS “OUT AND ABOUT!”
RECENT MEETINGS HAVE BEEN HELD WITH:
For additional information and details on these or other issues, or to schedule a presentation by Susan Gaston at your next sales meeting, please contact Susan at email@example.com or at 757-871-1445.