Week number three is behind us and we now are one-third of the way through the 2015 General Assembly session. The deadline to introduce legislation was last Friday, January 23rd. Over 2,100 bills are “in the hopper” for consideration as well as over 400 resolutions. Translated into action over a 46-day time frame, this means the General Assembly will process an average of 55 bills each day.
Because bills deal with matters of law, their journey to enactment is strenuous. Almost every bill faces the scrutiny of a standing committee in both chambers, and then must win the support of a majority of Delegates and a majority of Senators. Once passed by the legislature, the measure goes to the Governor for his review. If the governor approves the bill, the bill becomes law. If he vetoes the bill, a two-thirds majority in both houses of the General Assembly is required to override his veto.
This week saw some very heavy and emotional issues under consideration. Marijuana oil for the treatment of a debilitating form of childhood epilepsy. Gun owner rights versus gun owner restrictions. Increased parental say in the mental health care of minors. None of these can be taken lightly.
But despite the weightiness of some matters, other smaller matters can elicit chuckles. Take for instance the various community cat bills that are intended to stave the growth of the feral cat population. Cue the background music during debate. (http://www.bing.com/search?q=stray+cat+strut&src=IE-TopResult&FORM=IETR02&conversationid=)
And then there really is some monkey business in the Capitol this year. Legislation to ban pet monkeys has been filed, too. http://www.nbc12.com/story/27967950/va-general-assembly-takes-up-monkey-business
To see the week in pictures, check out this link to the Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD). http://www.richmond.com/news/collection_ab3f134b-908b-50c4-a684-7b8278b19c07.html Bob Brown, RTD Photographer, for decades has captured enduring images of the General Assembly Session.
STATUS OF THE REALTOR®
2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Onward and upward can best describe the action taken on VAR’s Legislative last week. Both of the special flood hazard zone “buyer beware” bills, SB 775 and HB 1642, passed their chambers of introduction and begin the second phase of hearings. HB 1452 regarding amendments to the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act also passed the House and is headed to the Senate. The legislation to add additional penalties and a secondary offense to a crime perpetrated against a real estate licensee who was enticed to show a dwelling unit, SB 1100 and HB 1493, was amended to include other professions so that there is not a carve out or exception for the real estate industry; however, the bill does have a fiscal impact, meaning that the implementation of the bill would cost the state money….something that is lacking in this budget deficit of $2.4 BILLION. The Senate version of the bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Courts Committee on Thursday but was re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where it may face stiff opposition given the fiscal impacts.
See the details below for the major initiatives that your Association is pushing through the state legislature. But know that we literally are tracking hundreds of bills for the REALTOR® Association that impact taxation, lending, transportation, economic development and many others. Follow all of the latest by going to REALTORS® Choose at http://www.realtorschoose.com/bills/.
HB 1450 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act;
Representations related to special flood hazard area
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Buyers Should Be Aware of Storm Water Maintenance Agreements. Increasingly, local governments are entering into maintenance agreements with landowners that may require the landowner to maintain a storm water facility on the property. For many years, we have advised that REALTORS® tell buyers to identify the existence of these facilities on the property, but not to ask whether or not there is a formal maintenance agreement with the locality in place. To ensure that your buyers and buyers agents know what to ask, we are amending the “buyer-beware” disclosure form to include the existence of stormwater maintenance agreement.
ROLLED INTO HB 1642
HB 1452 – Landlord and tenant law; who may recover rent and possession
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Different Judges Interpret the Law Differently. We have several judges in Virginia who say that because “family trusts” are not specifically spelled out in the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, or the VRLTA, our property managers cannot appear in court on behalf of their clients. This leaves the owner to have to appear in person or to hire an attorney. This was an oversight in the VRLTA. To make sure our property managers can continue to represent their clients in court, we will propose amending the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act to add “family trusts.”
Passed the House 98-0 on January 28th; referred to the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology
HB 1965 – Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Real Estate Transaction Recovery Fund
Introduced by: Thomas Davis Rust
Helping our Consumers Recover Funds They Are Owed. Currently, when a licensee is found guilty of a Real Estate Board regulation and the consumer is owed money, the consumer has to petition the general district court for a judgment. The judgment specifically must state the offense that occurred with the real estate licensee or the Real Estate Board cannot award the funds. To fix that, we are amending the Code of Virginia to allow judges to award a general judgment, similar to what already is allowed under the Board of Contractors.
Reported from the House General Laws Committee 20-0 on January 29th and heads to the House floor.
HB 2100 – Condominium and Property Owners’ Association Acts; allowable charges; rental of units
Introduced by: Christopher K. Peace
Further Clarification to the POA and COA. Each year, issues arise in the relationships between REALTORS®, homeowners, Property Owners’ Associations (POA’s) and Condominium Owners’ Associations (COA’s). VAR will work with the state legislature to make sure there is clarity in the law regarding what fees can be charged and what actions ownership associations can take. It is important to find the proper balance in the agreements between homeowners and POA’s and COA’s to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
Reported from the Housing Subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee. Amendment drafting errors were noted and thus the correct version of the bill will be heard next week by the House General Laws Committee.
SB 775 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=sb775
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke
PASSED THE SENATE 40-0 ON JANUARY 23rd and REFERRED TO THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON GENERAL LAWS.
HB 1642 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones
Introduced by: Christopher P. Stolle
Buyers Need to Determine If a Property Will Need Flood Insurance: Buyers, particularly in coastal regions of Virginia, should be able to identify whether properties will need additional flood insurance because they are located in a FEMA-determined special flood hazard zone. Currently, a flood certification is performed on every property, regardless of where it is in Virginia, by the mortgage lender. This is used as part of the underwriting of the loan and to ensure appropriate insurance coverage is applied as required by federal law. Flood certifications are performed by third-party providers with expertise in evaluating the FEMA flood zone maps. A list of these providers is readily available on the FEMA website. As with home inspections, storm water facilities, and the sexual offender registry, buyers should be educated on what issues to investigate in the transaction. To accomplish this, we propose amending the Code to add language to the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Statement’s list of disclosures that advises the purchaser to exercise due diligence in investigating whether the property resides within a special flood hazard zone, including obtaining a flood certification.
PASSED THE HOUSE 98-0 on JANUARY 28th and REFERRED TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON GENERAL LAWS AND TECHNOLOGY.
1424 – Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act; delinquent payment
Introduced by: Daniel W. Marshall, III
Landlords and Property Owners Should Not Bear the Burden. VAR helped pass a bill several years ago that prohibited a water authority from attaching a lien or otherwise requiring a landlord or property owner to pay delinquent water bills from their tenants before the services could be turned back on. Unfortunately, the General Assembly missed one Code section. To fix this oversight, we propose amending all of the sections in the Code to prohibit water authorities from requiring landlords or property owners to pay delinquent water fees from tenants.
HB 1493 – Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
SB 1100 Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
Introduced by: Mark D. Obenshain
Making Sure Predators Get What They Deserve. There have been several high-profile cases in the past several months where REALTORS® have been lured into vacant houses and assaulted, raped, abducted….or worse. In each of these instances, the victim was lured into the property through contact from a potential “client” who wanted to see the property. We are pursuing legislation to ensure authorities have adequate tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap Realtors® into these circumstances with intent to do harm.
SB 1100 REPORTED 14-0 FROM THE SENATE COURTS OF JUSTICE COMMITTEE WITH AMENDMENTS ON JANUARY 28th AND WAS RE-REFERRED TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE.
CALL TO ACTION!!!!!!
PLEASE RESPOND IMMEDIATELY!
Ask Your State Representatives to OPPOSE the Petroleum Tank Deductible Increase!
The General Assembly is considering a measure that would increase the deductible homeowners pay to have underground petroleum tanks repaired or removed, if they are found to be leaking. Currently the deductible is $500. The General Assembly is considering a measure to increase it to $2500… that’s a 500% INCREASE.
Under this proposal, your clients will see the deductible sky-rocket to $2500. We believe this will have a negative impact on many of these real estate transactions.
There have been several budget amendments that have been introduced that will reverse the course, keep the $500 deductible in place and ask a stakeholder task force to look at the issue.
Please send a message to your member of the House of Delegates and Senate to let them know Realtors® stand united throughout Virginia in their concern over this dramatic increase.
Go to http://www.richmond.com/news/collection_ab3f134b-908b-50c4-a684-7b8278b19c07.html to email your legislators and ask them to OPPOSE the Petroleum Tank Deductible Increase!!!
VPAR’s General Assembly Delegation Contact Information
Del. Mamye BaCote, D-95th, Newport News (804) 698-1095 DelMBaCote@house.virginia.gov
Del. Gordon Helsel, R-96th, Poquoson (804) 698-1091 DelGHelsel@house.virginia.gov
Del. Keith Hodges, R-98th Urbanna (804) 698-1098 DelKHodges@house.virginia.gov
Del. Rick Morris, R-64th, Carrollton (804) 698-1064 DelRMorris@house.virginia.gov
Del. Brenda Pogge, R-96th, Yorktown (804) 698-1096 DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov
Del. Jeoin Ward, D-92nd, Hampton (804) 698-1092 DelJWard@house.virginia.gov
Del. Monty Mason, R-93rd, Williamsburg (804) 698-1093 DelMMason@house.virginia.gov
Del. David Yancey, R-94th, Newport News (804) 698-1094 DelDYancey@house.virginia.gov
Sen. Mamie Locke, D-2nd, Hampton (804) 698-7502 email@example.com
Sen. John Miller, D-1st, Newport News (804) 698-7501 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Tommy Norment, R-3rd, James City (804) 698-7503 email@example.com
GENERAL ASSEMBLY WEBSITES OF INTEREST
We would like to share with you some very valuable (and helpful) information regarding General Assembly Resources:
Daily Floor Sessions
To watch the House of Delegates in Session live at Noon each day, click here: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3
To watch the Virginia Senate in Session live at noon each day, click here: http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3
Daily VA Political News:
Subscribe to receive daily e-mails with news articles highlighting major political and legislative happenings.
Who’s My Legislator?
Find out who your Delegate and Senator are here: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/
Virginia General Assembly Website: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
You can find additional General Assembly resources, such as meeting schedules and bill tracking, on their website.
REALTOR® DAY ON THE HILL – FEBRUARY 11, 2015
Mark your calendars now for February 11th so that you can attend VPAR’s Annual REALTOR® Day on the Hill! Join REALTORS® from across the Commonwealth as they descend upon the General Assembly to tout the Association’s legislative agenda. Visit with legislators from the region, hear from “in the know” politicos on current issues and tour the Capitol and the Executive Mansion. Join us for a highly beneficial day!
For additional information or other details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage our members to follow the General Assembly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VPAREALTORS.