The 2015 Session of the General Assembly of Virginia was gaveled in this past Wednesday, January 14th, for what will be a fast-paced, 46-day legislative session. Per the Constitution of Virginia, the legislature convenes for 46 days in an odd-numbered year, and for 60 days in an even year. Keep in mind that the Commonwealth also operates on a biennial budget; odd-numbered years mark the second year of a biennium, operating off of and amending the previous year’s budget, while in even-numbered years, new two-year budgets are developed.
This marks the second year of the McAuliffe Administration, with amendments to the budget coming from the Governor’s office. And Virginia finds itself in a budget shortfall to the tune of $2.4 million dollars, which will make for potential budget fireworks. For a quick overview of the state budget, visit http://hac.state.va.us/committee/files/2015/1-14-15/House%20Budget%20Briefing%2001-14-15.pdf.
In addition, the day before the gavel fell, a former member of the House who now in jail was re-elected, and the week prior, former Governor McDonnell was sentenced to two years in federal prison, both of which have catapulted ethics reform to the top of issues to be handled.
Finally, the Session will be conducted in the context of an election year, with all 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 seats in the Senate going up for re-election in November. To quote the Majority Leader of the Senate, Hon. Tommy Norment (R-3rd, James City County), “You can sum up the 2015 Session by these four letters: BEPP – the Budget, Ethics, Posturing and Politics.” Sen. Norment likely will be proven true.
IN OTHER NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL THIS WEEK>>>>
• Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered his first State of the Commonwealth address on January 14th. The evening address traditionally marks the official opening of the General Assembly Session. See the full address here.
• Virginia has been absent a state song since 1997, and the push for finding one has resumed this Session. Del. Bill Howell, the Speaker of the House from the Fredericksburg area, has submitted legislation that would make “Our Great Virginia” the new state song. Check it out here….
STATUS OF THE REALTOR®
2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
What is the REALTOR® Legislative Agenda this year? 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 stormwater 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.
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.”
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.
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.
SB 775 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke
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.
HB 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.
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. http://www.vpap.org/vanews
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! Bus transportation will be made available! More details to come.
For additional information or other details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage our members to follow the General Assembly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VPAREALTORS.