June 2017 Government Affairs Update
NAIOP TESTIFIES IN OPPOSITION TO ZONING LEGISLATION
Once again, the battle over the “zoning reform bill” (supported by planners and environmentalists and opposed by the real estate community and municipalities) is underway. NAIOP testified at a lengthy legislative hearing earlier this month and communicated the industry’s concerns that it would have a negative impact on economic growth and housing production if passed. Two versions of the bill have been filed (H.2420 – a new version, and S. 81 – the version that passed the Senate last year). NAIOP will be opposing both bills. NAIOP is now developing a detailed analysis of the legislation and will be meeting one on one with lawmakers to educate them on the specifics of the very complex bill. Member advocacy will be needed on this issue later in the legislative session.
FINAL VOTE ON NEW BUILDING CODE TAKEN, SIX MONTH CONCURRENCY PERIOD STARTS JULY 1
On May 16, the Board of Building Regulations and Standards held an all-day meeting to review the 9th edition of the statewide building code and voted to promulgate the code. The Board voted not to include the electric vehicle requirements that had been considered. This decision was supported by NAIOP. NAIOP, however, expressed strong concern with the wording of the solar ready rooftop requirements included in the draft code. As a result, replacement language was drafted at the meeting that was designed to ensure the solar ready rooftop language would not require any design modifications to rooftop space. It is simply designed to encourage low rise buildings to mark areas on design drawings that could potentially be adequate for PV installations in the future. Members are encouraged to keep NAIOP posted on their experiences with the new code.
WAGE THEFT BILL - PENALIZES BUSINESSES WHO HAVE NOT COMMITTED VIOLATION
NAIOP and a wide range of business groups will once again be opposing the wage theft bill (S. 999). The bill would penalize those who inadvertently do business with a firm that has committed a wage violation. No other state imposes vicarious liability for wage violations, as proposed in this bill. Under the legislation, there would be no limit to the dollar amount of liability, nor any time limit on the look back period for which a company would be liable for paying back wages. The financial impact could be severe. NAIOP will continue to advocate for the enforcement of existing wage laws, but will oppose this deeply flawed legislation.
NEW MESA MAP: PUBLIC COMMENT UNDERWAY - NAIOP SUPPORTS CHANGES
The new MESA Priority Habitat map is out for public comment until June 3. NAIOP will be submitting comments in support of the changes later this week. In short, the maps reduce the total mapped area and prioritize the areas that are of importance to the species. Members are encouraged to keep the NAIOP team posted on their experiences with the new map.
NAIOP SUPPORTS BILL TO LIMIT FRIVOLOUS ADA LAWSUITS
NAIOP recently provided testimony in support of S.1346. The bill would prevent frivolous lawsuits, while ensuring that properties comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in frivolous lawsuits targeting business owners who have committed ADA violations, often without realizing it. Under existing law, businesses that are out of compliance with the law in any way, including minor violations such as a mirror hung one inch too high, can be sued without warning. Business owners are required to pay both sets of attorney’s fees, and if a settlement is not reached, business owners often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in court.
The proposed legislation requires that written notice identifying the specific issue must be provided to the owner 60 days prior to initiating a lawsuit. During those 60 days, the building owner must provide the aggrieved person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to address the alleged violation. The building owner then has another 60 days to make the necessary corrections without being hit with thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees or damages. If the alleged violation is not addressed during that timeframe, legal action may be pursued. As a result, more properties will be in compliance, while frivolous lawsuits, and the costs associated with them, will be avoided. NAIOP will advocate for passage of this legislation this session.
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 committees are a great way to stay informed on the important issues affecting the industry. Due to security restrictions, you must RSVP to attend any upcoming meetings. New members are welcome (and encouraged)! Contact Tamara Small, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, at (781) 453-6900 ext. 5 for more information.