Forty-five days. Two thousand, two hundred sixty-one bills, five of which already have been signed into law by the Governor. Nearly 300 bills tracked by your lobbying team. One hundred forty legislators. Nine degrees. Eight inches of snow.
AND LESS THAN ONE WEEK LEFT!
The 2015 General Assembly Session certainly can be defined by the numbers, and by the stark difference as well between this and last year’s legislative session. A year ago at this time, the General Assembly was in serious disagreement over Medicaid expansion, which then evolved into a budget issue that resulted in a regular Session lasting for over 100 days and dissolving into a near government shutdown. Tempers were running high and little agreement could be reached. Watch today’s House and Senate, and you will see a near-calm by contrast, with far less consternation.
As we head into the final days of Session, several high stakes issues await final language that will be resolved in conference committees. Campus sexual assault. Day care center regulations. Dominion power rate freeze and solar energy. And ethics reform. Not to mention the state budget. All are in negotiations and all have high stakes.
Speaking of the state budget, the following members have been appointed to the high-powered budget conference committee: Senate President Pro Tempore and Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Walter Stosch, R-Henrico; Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City; Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax; Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Chuck Colgan, D-Manassas; Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan; and Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon. The House negotiators are Appropriations Committee Chair Chris Jones, R-Suffolk; Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave; House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights; Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico; Del. Tag Greason, R-Loudoun; and Del. Johnny Joannou, D-Portsmouth.
STATUS OF THE REALTOR®
2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
VAR’s legislative agenda is in strong form and is moving out of the General Assembly toward the Governor’s Office. With the exception of HB 2100 — the bill to amend the POA/COA sections of the Code of Virginia, and which was slightly amended in the Senate so must return to the House on Monday for approval of those Senate amendments – ALL REALTOR® bills have passed the House and the Senate, and are being transmitted to the Executive Branch.
PLUS, it appears that, for the moment, we have prevailed in two budget issues: 1.) the language in the Governor’s budget that would have resulted in an increase from $500 to $2,500 for the deductible in mitigating underground petroleum tanks has been removed; and 2.) the $50,000 appropriation needed to enact the criminal inducement policy is in the House budget and also is in the Senate budget.
Budget negotiators completed their work tonight, Sunday evening….so we will be poring through those details in the coming days to assure that we made it through the budget gauntlet.
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 ill 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.
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; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th. Headed to the Governor’s office.
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.
Passed the House 90-0 on February 4th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.
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.
Passed the House 100-0 on February 10th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th with amendments. The House will reconsider the bill as amended by the Senate on Monday, February 23rd.
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 House 99-0 on January 22nd; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 16th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.
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; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 19th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.
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 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.
Passed the House 98-0 on February 10th; passed the Senate 38-0 on February 20th. Headed to the Governor’s Office.
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;
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 was reported from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee; with its fiscal impact, the bill was re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where it was left on the table as a result of budget constraints. HOWEVER, HB 1493 reported from the House Courts of Justice Committee AND from the House Appropriations Committee. The House appropriated the needed $50,000 in its budget to enact the policy, and the Senate likewise has appropriated the funds, based on contingency language. We will be looking through the budget in the coming days to confirm that the bill has been fully appropriated.
REALTOR® DAY RE-CAP
Many thanks to the VPAR REALTOR® and Affiliate Members for coming to Richmond to spend time advocating for our bills! Over 40 VPAR members participated in this annual trek to the state Capitol to meet with members of the House and Senate, hear high-level speakers and learn more about the legislative process and our Virginia government, and tour the beautiful buildings in Capitol Square. YOUR EFFORTS, YOUR ENERGY and YOUR ENTHUSIASM ARE APPRECIATED BY YOUR LOBBYING TEAM and BY YOUR LEGISLATORS! Check out some fun photos that we posted on the VPAR Facebook Page!
MANY THANKS to the following sponsors for the VPAR REALTOR® Day on the Hill event! We could not have achieved the success of the day without your generous support!
Atlantic Bay Mortgage
Lytle Title & Escrow
Friend of VPAR
The Real Estate Book
FUN AT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY!!!!
The Session always is arduous and extremely intense, so there are days when all of us stuck in those buildings for hours on end look for reasons to laugh, chill out and have fun! One of the best days of any Session is Valentine’s Day! Celebrating a bit early this year, here’s a sample of just how we honor Cupid at the Capitol. The 6th floor, home to our auspicious legislative leadership, outdid themselves this year in the decorating department….and a certain Senate intern, who shall remain nameless, helped! Thanks to Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn for the filming! VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS!
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.