June 2018 Government Affairs Update
BROWNFIELDS TAX CREDIT EXTENSION SIGNED INTO LAW
On May 31, Governor Baker signed the Housing Bond Bill, An Act Financing the Production and Preservation of Housing for Low and Moderate-Income Residents (H. 4536), which authorizes $1.8 million in new capital spending for the production and preservation of affordable housing. The bill included one of NAIOP’s top legislative priorities – a 5-year extension of the Brownfields Tax Credit. NAIOP is grateful to Senator Michael Rodrigues (who filed the original bill at NAIOP’s request) as well as Housing Bond Bill conference committee members (Reps. Kevin Honan, Joseph McGonagle, Bradford Hill and Sens. Joseph Boncore, John Keenan, Patrick O’Connor) for their leadership on this important issue. Read our blog post.
TAKE ACTION ON COMMUNITY BENEFIT DISTRICT LEGISLATION
On May 30, legislation (H. 4546) that would create a new Chapter 40X authorizing Community Benefit Districts passed in the House. Community Benefit Districts (CBD) impose assessments on property owners, in addition to property taxes, to fund supplemental services. A CBD may be established only if the property owners in the district who sign the petition to create the CBD will pay more than 50 percent of the yearly assessment. Not-for-profits and public property owners are exempt from paying the fees, but they may vote to create the district. A municipality may classify all owner-occupied residential property as exempt property when approving the creation of a CBD. Similar to last session, NAIOP opposes the CBD framework and is concerned that it would impose additional fees on property owners who may not have supported the creation of the district in the first place. Particularly in Gateway Cities, which seem to be the focus of the legislation, this additional fee on property owners who may already be struggling will not spur economic growth. The legislation now moves to the Senate. NAIOP members are encouraged to contact your senator to oppose the authorization of Community Benefit Districts.
MAAB REGULATORY CHANGES - FEEDBACK DUE TO NAIOP BY JUNE 20
NAIOP is now reviewing proposed changes to the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) regulations, 521 CMR - the first full rewrite since 1996. The revisions aim to “ensure compliance with state and federal requirements under the ADA and the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.” If you have feedback on the regulatory changes that you would like NAIOP to consider in its comment letter, please send them to Tamara Small by June 20.
UPDATE ON ENVIRONMENTAL BOND BILL
On May 15, NAIOP submitted testimony opposing changes to Article 97 that were included in a revised environmental bond bill that is now before the House Committee on Bonding (H. 4438). NAIOP continues to support the overall legislation, which directs the state to plan for climate change and authorizes funds for Massachusetts communities to respond to and mitigate damage from extreme weather events caused by climate change.
NEW GUIDELINES FOR 2018 MASSWORKS INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM
The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development recently released grant guidelines and application information for the 2018 MassWorks Infrastructure Program. Applications may be filed July 30-August 10. Of particular note, the guidelines address circumstances in which a grant applicant would be required to go through the MEPA process. This topic will be discussed at NAIOP’s next Government Affairs Committee Meeting on June 7.
NAIOP JOINS EMPLOYER-LED COALITION TO REDUCE HEALTHCARE COSTS
NAIOP and prominent business groups in the state have formed a coalition to reduce health care costs, which will work with doctors, hospitals, and health insurers to reduce inappropriate use of emergency departments by 20 percent in two years. State officials estimate that 40% of ED visits are avoidable, a pattern that costs $300-$350 million annually for commercially insured members alone. The coalition’s major initiatives are based on a multi-pronged strategy of educating employees, learning from data, collaborating across the health care system, and advocating for policy change.
NEW STATEWIDE ENERGY CODE + BUILDING CODE CHANGES PROPOSED
On May 8, the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) held a public hearing on proposed changes to the building and energy codes that are expected to be voted on at the June 5 BBRS meeting. Of particular interest to NAIOP members, a new statewide energy code (IECC 2018) and a new NFPA 241 requirement will be considered. Special thanks to all NAIOP members who contributed to our comment letter.
UPCOMING FUNDRAISER: SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE ROBERT DELEO
On June 5 at 8:15AM, NAIOP will be hosting a fundraiser for Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo. Fundraisers are a great way for legislators to hear directly from you as the legislative session draws to a close and important issues affecting the industry are on the line. RSVP by noon on Monday to Suzanne Trainor if you plan to attend.
REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY OPPOSES ZONING LEGISLATION, SUPPORTS GOVERNOR'S HOUSING BILL
NAIOP and all real estate groups in the state oppose legislation pending in the House (H. 4397) containing anti-growth concepts including eliminating the Approval Not Required (ANR) process, reducing the scope of zoning “freeze” protection under current law by providing that this protection applies only to the particular subdivision plan that is submitted rather than to the “land shown on the plan,” authorizing the use of impact fees without limitation, and mandating inclusionary zoning without incentives.
A recent State House News Service article incorrectly stated that there are “areas of emerging agreement” for stakeholders in the real estate, planning, municipal government, environmental and housing sectors, to draft “a sensible zoning reform bill that builds on the Governor’s Housing Choice proposal.” NAIOP continues to strongly oppose anti-growth zoning concepts.
The real estate industry supports enactment of the Governor’s housing bill (H. 4290) – a balanced approach that encourages, rather than discourages, the production of housing. For questions or comments, please contact Tamara Small.
The legislative session concludes on July 31. The Legislature is now in high gear, with many critical meetings and negotiations now underway. In the coming weeks, it is extremely important for NAIOP members to review communications from NAIOP’s government affairs team and to quickly respond to requests for outreach or information on specific issues. Major changes are expected to happen very quickly. Member input and feedback are critical to NAIOP’s advocacy efforts! Thank you for your support.
NAIOP GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS ADVOCACY: LEARN MORE, GET INVOLVED!
Interested in NAIOP’s government affairs agenda? Check out the Member-Only Top Issues section of the NAIOP web site for issue briefs, comment letters, and additional resources. Would you like to get involved in shaping NAIOP’s advocacy efforts? We value your input! NAIOP’s government affairs committee and issue-specific subcommittees are a great way to stay informed on the important issues affecting the industry. The next Government Affairs Committee meeting will be held at Foley Hoag on Thursday, June 7 from 7:45 – 9:00am. Due to security restrictions, you must RSVP to attend. New members are welcome (and encouraged)! Contact Tamara Small, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, at (781) 453-6900 ext. 5 for more information.