Colorado Association of REALTORS | Capitol Connection – April 2016
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Capitol Connection – April 2016

Capitol Connection – April 2016

Senate Concurrent Resolution 004: Real Estate Transfer Tax For Affordable Housing.

We are happy to report that SCR16-004, Real Estate Transfer Tax for Affordable Housing sponsored by Senator Ulibarri (D-Commerce City) died in committee on April 20th. The LPC opposed this bill and CAR gave testimony against the legislation in the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs committee hearing. This concurrent resolution removed the state constitutional prohibition under TABOR to levy new or increased transfer tax rates on real property. The resolution would have imposed a transfer tax on the recording of each real property deed at the rate of 1/10 of 1% of the value of the property. At conveyance the county clerk and recorder would have been required to determine the amount of tax due and collect that amount from the purchaser of real property as a prerequisite to accepting the deed for recording. The county treasurer would have then been required to transmit the funds to the state treasurer for deposit into the state affordable housing trust fund.

CAR is an advocate of affordable housing and we have supported a host of legislative initiatives designed to create more affordable housing options.  This session, we are supporting the extension of the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, and we supported the creation of the program in 2014. Moreover, CAR-initiated legislation will soon be introduced to provide prospective homebuyers more options to save for their first home.  However, CAR could not support SCR-004.

CAR opposed this concurrent resolution for several reasons:

1)    This tax increase places a disproportionate burden on property owners to solve a societal problem that affects all of us. The availability of affordable housing is a complex problem that requires comprehensive solutions. Colorado’s home owners already fund substantial portions of school, transportation, and local government operating budgets. This societal problem demands solutions that involve all of Colorado, not just its property owners.

2)    The tax creates a barrier to homeownership because it increases the amount of money needed to purchase a home. Down payment costs – including closing costs – remain the most significant single barrier to homeownership, especially for low-to moderate-income households. A transfer tax is regressive – it disproportionately impacts low-to-moderate  income earners – and increases the amount of money needed to purchase a home, making it that much more difficult for less affluent families to own a home.

3)    It is an unfair allocation of funds from region to region. Given the disproportionately high cost of real estate in certain Colorado markets, a statewide real estate transfer tax is of particular concern to local stakeholders as housing affordability varies greatly from region to region.  Different regions will have dramatically different funding needs from any state revenue source intended to address affordable housing issues.

House Bill 1426: Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement To An Assistance Animal

We are happy to report that HB16-1426, Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to An Assistance Animal, sponsored by Representatives Primavera (D-Broomfield) and Willett, (R-Grand Junction) passed unanimously out of the House Public Health Care and Human Services committee on April 19th. The bill as amended in committee addresses both service animals and assistance animals.

Concerning assistance animals it requires designated medical professionals, when approached by a patient seeking an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing, to make a written determination as to whether the patient has a disability as defined by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and whether the need for the animal is related to that disability, or that there is insufficient evidence to make that disability determination. The medical professional is required to meet with the patient in person, be sufficiently familiar with the patient and disability, and be legally and professionally qualified to make the disability determination.

Regarding service animals the legislation creates a crime of intentional misrepresentation of a service animal if: a person intentionally misrepresents an animal in his or her possession as a service animal or service-animal-in-training in order to obtain any of the rights afforded to individuals with service animals under Colorado disabilities law. The bill establishes class 2 petty offenses for both intentional misrepresentation of entitlement to an assistance animal and intentional misrepresentation of a service animal for a person with a disability.

The legislation further authorizes the division to educate the public through public service announcements and its website about: a) the definitions of both types of animals and the associated criminal penalties, b) complaint processes for those encountering discrimination, c) newly created uniform signage for public accommodations, and d) newly created forms for landlords, healthcare providers, and individuals with a disability to use in making the disability determinations. Finally, it creates a training program for law enforcement officers around these crimes.

CAR’s interest in the assistance and service animal issue is due to the volume of feedback we receive from our members and property owners confused with the seemingly infinite expansion of the use of these animals.  The use of these animals is a big concern for many property managers and landlords across the country who maintain compliance with federal disability and fair housing law, but also have concerns about tenants who have pet allergies or the slippery slope of allowing any type of animal including reptiles, birds or dangerous dog breeds such as pitbulls as assistance animals.

This legislation is a reasonable attempt to instill some guidelines for landlords and property managers on whether they can approve or deny requests from tenants who want to have an assistance animal without running afoul of federal fair housing and disability law by putting into place a requirement for medical professional sign off of a disability from a patient.

The legislation also potentially deters the occurrences of people exploiting the confusion related to service animals to attempt to their bring pets, therapy animals, or assistance animals into places where they are not otherwise allowed under Colorado and federal disability law. By addressing the misrepresentation of ineligible utilization of service animals, the bill prevents public mistrust in the lawfully abiding citizens’ proper use of a disability-required service animal in the proper place and manner.

House Bill 1109: Application of State Water Law to Federal Agencies

The LPC supported HB16-1109, Application of State Water Law to Federal Agencies, sponsored by Representatives KC Becker (D-Boulder) and Jon Becker (R) and Senators Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) and Kerry Donovan (D-Vail), which was signed into law by the Governor on April 21st.

The LPC SUPPORTED this bill because it states that Colorado water is a transferable property right and that the federal government must comply with state law, through the water court process, to acquire water rights. The bill prohibits the state water engineer and the division engineers in the Department of Natural Resources from enforcing or administering efforts by the United States Forest Service (USFS) or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that: a) require a full or partial transfer of ownership in a water right to the USFS or the BLM; b) restricts the use or alienability of the water right as a condition for an authorization to use federally owned lands; or c) requires a third party that supplies water to a federal special use permit holder to supply the water for a set period of time or in a set amount.

CAR supports this legislation because it protects Colorado water rights owners and holds the federal government accountable in Colorado’s state water process. Further, CAR’s legislative policy statements include the protection of water as an important aspect of preserving our environment.  Similarly, CAR supports the state’s desire to protect property owners, their water rights and generally the doctrine of prior appropriation.

NAR Midyear Meetings in Washington, DC: May 9-14, 2016

The REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is where NAR members take an active role to advance the real estate industry, public policy, and the association.  REALTORS® come to Washington, DC, for special issues forums, committee meetings, legislative activities, and the industry trade show.  Registration is now open.  Click here for more information.

Save the Date: Western Slope Wildfire Awareness and Mitigation Program    

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 10:00AM

Log Hill Volunteer Fire Department HQ, in Ouray County near Ridgway

Join Colorado REALTORS®, Project Wildfire and the West Region Wildfire Council to learn how you can help your clients and friends reduce the risk of wildfires.

What is Colorado Project Wildfire?

Developed by the Colorado Association of REALTORS®, Project Wildfire is designed to help reduce the destruction of land, property, and lives.  Working in partnership with other like-minded fire prevention organizations across the state, local REALTOR® associations are bringing education and awareness, as well as access to resources, directly to residents in their local communities.  To learn more about Colorado Project Wildfire, click here.

Invest in RPAC

The purpose of RPAC is to support candidates that support REALTORS®.  Our goal is to get pro-REALTOR® candidates elected at the local, state, and federal levels – candidates that share our support for homeownership, protect property rights, and who will listen to our concerns. Investing in RPAC is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your business.  Click here to invest today! 

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