Legislative Update #1

VPAR Legislative Line #1

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

tel:  757-871-1445

fax: 757-565-4988



Register to Vote

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.

The Monitor – August 2018

Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®

Public Policy Report


 AUGUST 2018



 “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)


Local Issues


Resilient Hampton

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.


York County

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!



  • Hampton Housing Market Assessment and Future Housing Needs Study
  • Newport News Housing Study Revisions and Update
  • Newport News HUD Grant for Marshall-Ridley Place
  • Hilton 100/VPAR Collaboration
  • Newport News Pinedale Branch Boys and Girls Club Placemaking Grant
  • Eustis Tour


Regional  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.


State Issues


2019 Legislation

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!)


Federal Issues


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!











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






  • Congressman Rob Wittman
  • Governor Justin Fairfax
  • Matt Mansell, Policy Director, Governor Ralph Northam
  • Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck
  • Hampton Councilmember Steve Brown
  • Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting
  • Hampton Community Development Director Terry O’Neill
  • Hampton Federal Facilities Director Bruce Sturk
  • Hampton City Council Candidate Michael Harris
  • Isle of Wight County Planning Director Amy Ring
  • Newport News Mayor McKinley Price
  • Newport News Vice Mayor Tina Vick
  • Newport News Councilmember Sharon Scott
  • Newport News Director of Comprehensive Planning Britta Ayers
  • Newport News Director of Codes Compliance Harold Roach
  • Poquoson Economic Development Director Dave Callis
  • York County Director of Planning Tim Cross
  • Mamie Locke
  • Monty Mason
  • Sen Thomas K. Norment, Jr.
  • Mike Mullin
  • Cia Price
  • Jeoin Ward
  • David Yancey


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 susan@gastongroup.com or at 757-871-1445.

Call for Action – National Flood Insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire on July 31, denying necessary insurance coverage to homeowners and buyers in more than 20,000 communities nationwide. Congress must act now to reform and extend the NFIP.


NAR Supports:

  • Reauthorizing and gradually strengthening the NFIP so it is sustainable over the long run;
  • Encouraging the development of private market options to offer comparable flood insurance coverage at lower cost than NFIP;
  • Providing federal assistance to high-risk property owners, including guaranteed loans, grants and buyouts in order to build to higher standards and keep insurance rates affordable;
  • Provide fair flood insurance rates that better reflect the property’s flood risk;
  • Improving flood map accuracy, so fewer property owners have to file expensive appeals.


Click here to take action

“THE MONITOR”  Spring 2018

Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®

Public Policy Report


 Spring 2018


 “When you get together in a group, it becomes like a family, with the different personalities and the politics that comes along….It’s different than bringing something in by yourself.”

—   Albert Hammond, Gibraltarian singer, songwriter and record producer


CONGRATULATIONS to all winners in the May 1st elections in Hampton and Newport News! The Public Policy Committee interviewed, over the course of two days, nearly all of the candidates seeking re-election/election to City Council in Hampton and Newport News, and Mayor in Newport News. The following were elected:

(*denotes VPAR/RPAC endorsement)


Eleanor Brown*

Steve Brown*

Jimmy Gray*



Dr. McKinley Price*



Dr. Saundra Cherry*

David Jenkins*

Sharon Scott*


VPAR looks forward to continuing to work with these public servants on important issues related to housing, land use, zoning, planning, economic development and transportation.


Local Issues

Hampton Permitting Process

The Public Policy Committee met with Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, at the Mayor’s request, to provide input into how the City can incorporate streamlining and best practices in the permitting submission and approval process. The Mayor will use the details provided by VPAR into a meeting with Hampton officials in early May.


Hampton Zoning Amendments and Recurrent Flooding

Terry O’Neill, Director of Community Development, has asked for VPAR’s input into potential amendments to the zoning ordinance regarding recurrent flooding. VPAR’s Legislative Consultant and Public Policy Committee member (and Hampton Neighborhood Commissioner) Peggy Todd will meet with Mr. O’Neill and his team in late May.


Ft. Eustis/City of Newport News AICUZ

VPAR’s CEO and Legislative Consultant has provided input into the development of Ft. Eustis Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ). Personnel from the installation will be meeting with VPAR again in the coming weeks to review the details and the language. An educational program is in development for VPAR members.


Ft. Eustis Joint Land Use Study

VPAR’s Legislative Consultant reviewed the Ft. Eustis Joint Land Use Study and provided feedback to City staff on issues related to housing, recurrent flooding and economic development. The report can be found here. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/3a99a7_58423e7847ce4078af32aceafeb6489f.pdf


Newport News Boys & Girls Club Placemaking Grant

VPAR is working with Anderson’s Garden Center in reigniting stalled efforts from two years ago to improve the grounds of the Boys & Girls Club Pinedale Branch in Newport News.


Newport News Rental Inspection Program

Newport News Codes Compliance Director Harold Roach and his team will be meeting with VPAR members on June 21st to provide an update of the rental inspection program and receive VPAR feedback on potential challenges and inefficiencies.


Poquoson REALTOR® Day on June 13th

On June 13th, VPAR will return to Poquoson for the annual REALTOR® DAY IN POQUOSON event! The tour of “Bull Island” will be by boat, and again will feature a host of guest speakers from the City to inform VPAR members of all that us unique to Poquoson. More details coming soon!



  • Hampton Housing Market Assessment and Future Housing Needs Study
  • Newport News Comprehensive Plan
  • Hilton 100/VPAR Collaboration


State Issues


2018 GA Adjourns (Sort of)





State Budget

Continuing toward crafting an approved budget, VPAR has weighed in with key elected leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia on comprehensive issues including Metro Funding and the grantors tax.


2019 Legislation

Looking ahead to the 2019 Session, if you have concerns or issues that require a legislative fix, now is the time to let VPAR know! Contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or at susan@gastongroup.com. You also may go directly to VR and complete the legislative issue request form found here: https://www.virginiarealtors.org/advocacy/get-involved/legislativeagenda/ DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS JUNE 5th to VPAR.


Federal Issues

EPA Proposes Regulatory Science Reforms

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposed rule to strengthen the science used in regulations issued by EPA.


Coalition Letter in Support of CFPB Structure Change

NAR signed onto a joint trades letter in support of H.R. 5266, the “Product Safety Commission Act of 2018,” a bill that would transition the leadership structure at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) from a sole director to a bipartisan commission.


NAR Supports Seller Financing Bill

NAR sent a letter to Representatives Pearce (R-NM) and Heck (D-WA) thanking them for introducing H.R. 5287, the “Preserving Access to Rural Installment Transactions for Years (PARITY) Act of 2018.”


ASC Rejects Appraisal Waiver Request

The Board of the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) decided in an open meeting to reject Tri-Star Bank’s request for a waiver of commercial appraisal requirements for the Nashville, TN area.


Change to USDOT Transportation Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) published a Notice of discretionary grant funding through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program.




  • John Knapp, District Director, U. S. Senator Tim Kaine
  • Drew Lumpkin, District Director, U. S. Senator Mark Warner
  • Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
  • Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck
  • Newport News Mayor McKinley Price
  • Poquoson Economic Development Director Dave Callis
  • York County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sheila Noll
  • York County Board of Supervisors Member Jeff Wassmer
  • Mamie Locke
  • Monty Mason
  • Tommy Norment
  • Gordon Helsel
  • Mike Mullin
  • Brenda Pogge
  • Cia Price
  • Jeoin Ward
  • David Yancey