Unsung Hero Housing Legislation 2019
By CAR’s Government Affairs Vice President Elizabeth Peetz
Happy Summer! The USA Women’s team won the World Cup in France and we are post all-star break, with half the season left to go in baseball. And before you know it, we will be talking about the preparation for the 2020 legislative session. But first let’s take stock of where we are so far in 2019. (For a detailed review of the top bills our Legislative Policy Committee (“LPC”) worked on this past Spring click here.)
As many of you know, like in baseball where there are many games, there are also many pieces of legislation that the LPC engages in during the 120 day session. In baseball, managers use sabermetrics to apply statistical analysis to records to evaluate performance of individual players and develop the best chance to win the World Series in October. One of these stats is “on base percentage” which records how often a player gets on base. It is really one of the unsung heroes in terms of understanding why some minor stats make a big difference in the big picture of the composition of a team. Similarly, there are many pieces of legislation that CAR engages in that are minor players in the overall legislative session, but when looking at the big picture, shows you the breadth and depth of our advocacy at the state level in an effort to build the best team for the real estate industry overall.
Let’s take a look at some of the 2019 “unsung hero” housing legislation in the legislature that was signed into law by the Governor:
HB 1084 – Updated the current law requiring an urban renewal authority (URA) to provide notice to any owner of private property in any area being assessed for blighted conditions. This bill changes the time period for when the notice of the blight study final determination must be sent from 30 days to 7 days, and clarifies that the notice must be sent by the URA or the municipality regardless of the final determination of the study whether the property is blighted or not. This increases transparency and gives consumers more information about their property. CAR monitored this bill.
HB 1047 – Allows metropolitan districts to use sales tax revenue to provide fire protection services. Metropolitan districts are special districts that provide two or more specified government services. Under current law, districts may levy a property tax to provide each of these services and may use a sales tax to provide three specific services. CAR testified in support of HB 1047 because it allows metro districts to provide critical fire protection services with sales taxes if the districts decide to pursue that funding with voter approval. If we are asking homeowners to mitigate their property, it also makes sense to ensure the security of funding to fight fires, especially when the Gallagher Amendment can often hurt the ability of several counties and municipalities to fund these types of critical services for our population.
HB 1050 – Under current law, a restrictive covenant of a common interest community (i.e., home owner or condominium owner associations) cannot prohibit an individual property owner from employing the use of xeriscape or drought-tolerant landscaping. This bill extends this same policy to common areas under the control of the covenant community’s governing board, and specifies that special districts are not exempt from the water conservation law concerning xeriscape landscaping. CAR monitored this bill and understands that just like individual homeowners, now common areas of communities cannot prohibit the increased conservation efforts to use xeriscaping in community areas increasing the ability for neighbors to protect the environment with smart water conservation.
HB 1272 – This bill allows a government housing authority to voluntarily participate in the Colorado New Energy Improvement District (NEID) program. The NEID allows property owners to finance up to 100 percent of up-front energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements through a voluntary special assessment on their property tax bill. The special assessment allows the building improvements to be paid over time even if the property sells. Property owners voluntarily join the NEID to gain access to financing and allow the administration of the special assessment. Like property taxes, the special assessment takes priority over other mortgages on the property. Under previous law, only commercial properties and multifamily properties could participate in the NEID, but now Housing Authorities also have that capacity. Moreover, this program is not mandatory and preserves the ability for real estate to be transferred without complication.
HB 1078 – This bill requires an applicant seeking to place a property on the national register of historic places to obtain the consent of the property owner before the state historical society can take any action to approve the request. This additional notification to a property owner helps to ameliorate some of the hostile landmark designation situations that have created problems for the real estate industry in the past.
These unsung pieces of legislation are minor bills that either improve property rights, increase transparency for consumers, or enable neighborhoods and communities to make decisions that suit their local community needs. CAR is happy to work on all legislation that advances homeownership and strengthens communities through the strengthening of property rights of all consumers. As we head into the 7th inning stretch of our summer, CAR is still working for you on statewide growth caps, doing new research into innovative ways we can preserve, protect, and expand the supply of affordable housing in 2020, and we are always on the front lines ready to play ball for you, because that’s who we “R”.
Stay tuned for future news on what is coming to your ballots this November. In the meantime, if you or your colleague are interested in serving on the 2020 Government Affairs policy committees, don’t forget to apply for open seats on the 2020 CAR Political Action Committee, Legislative Policy Committee and brand new Key Contacts Program before the August 30th deadline.
For this article and more, please see CAR’s July 2019 Colorado REALTOR® Magazine by clicking here.