This week at the legislature …
This week at the legislature …
House legislators had their opportunity to debate the “long bill”, otherwise known as the budget, to fund the operations of state government after the Senate debated the budget last week. Colorado requires state lawmakers to balance their budget and given the fiscal outlook this year it required the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) to make some tough choices to close a nearly $700 million dollar shortfall.
After several hours of contentious floor debate last night, and additional floor debate this morning, the House passed the $26.8B budget on second reading. Assuming it receives third reading approval, the bill next would go back to the Senate where they can decide whether or not to accept the House amendments. If the Senate disagrees with the budget they can request a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions.
The House deliberated on nearly 100 amendments but ultimately only adopted a few. Some of the amendments adopted by the House include: $9 million increase in funding for rural broadband infrastructure, funded through existing utility fees, $1.5 million for film industry incentives that were previously scrapped, $5.4 million for ambulance services in rural Colorado, $8 million for substance abuse treatment, funded with marijuana sales tax revenues and earmarking $750,000 in severance taxes to add nine inspectors positions for the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to increase well inspections. To find more information about the budget debate click here.
House Bill 17-1309: Documentary Fee to Fund Affordable Housing
HB17-1309, sponsored by Representatives Jackson (D-Aurora) and Winter (D-Westminster) and Senators Guzman (D-Denver) and Coram (R- Montrose) was introduced on March 31st and is scheduled to be heard on April 26th in the House Local Government Committee. This bill would double the existing documentary fee for the recording of real estate deeds, with half of the money allocated to the county treasurer and the other half allocated to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to create a housing investment fund to support new and existing affordable housing programs with little transparency or oversight by Colorado citizens.
Unfortunately, without meaningful construction litigation reform, any money allocated to for-sale units within this program would not be truly effective. Absent reform, affordable housing developers will not be constructing such units.
Although REALTORS® understand the need for affordable housing in Colorado, one of our bedrock principles is that you cannot make housing more affordable by making it more expensive. CAR is an affordable housing advocate. We have supported a host of legislative initiatives designed to create more affordable housing options. The creation and extension of the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and legislation that allocating a portion of the state’s unclaimed property trust fund to support programs that provide rental assistance and promote construction and rehabilitation of low-income rental housing are just a couple.
Last year, CAR passed legislation to create first-time homebuyer savings accounts to help Coloradans save for purchasing their first home. Additionally, we have donated more than $7 million through the Colorado Association of REALTORS® Housing Opportunity Foundation (CARHOF) to promote safe, decent and affordable housing for all in Colorado.
HB 1309 has several flaws. First, the fee that would double under this legislation hurts the very families that it is intended to help because such a fee is regressive. It disproportionately impacts low-to-moderate income earners – those that can least afford it, which creates a barrier to homeownership. Down payment costs – including closing costs – remain a significant barrier to homeownership, especially for low-to moderate-income households.
Second, real estate documentary fees are not a reliable funding source. Real estate documentary fees are extremely sensitive to market forces, making the frequency of transactions and value of property variable in relation to the strength of the economy, which makes real estate documentary fees a poor revenue source to fund affordable housing.
Finally, real estate documentary fees for affordable housing are likely unconstitutional under TABOR. The Colorado Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue of taxes versus fees, and ruled that fees levied must be directly related to the services being performed. New fees that pay or fund something not directly related to the cost of service are actually taxes, and as such, violate TABOR’s requirement that citizens are entitled to vote on new taxes.
Invest in RPAC
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Sign up for REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts
More than 50,000 REALTORS® from across the country have already signed up for REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts – have you? Text CO REALTORS to 30644 to stay up to date on REALTOR® issues! You’ll be among the first to know about NAR Calls for Action and more! Click here for more information.
RPAC Drinking for Diamonds at CAR’s Spring Conference
How would you like to win a diamond? Be sure to attend RPAC Drinking for Diamonds on Wednesday, April 26th – 5:30PM-7:30PM being held in Ludwig’s at the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, CO! $25 RPAC investment at the door / $99 RPAC investment for each entry in the diamond drawing…and the best part? 100% of proceeds will be invested in RPAC – your BEST investment in Real Estate. RPAC Drinking for Diamonds is sponsored by the Vail Board of REALTORS®.
Colorado Wildland Fire Conference
The Colorado Association of REALTORS® is a proud sponsor of the 2017 Colorado Wildland Fire Conference. Please plan to attend this event on April 19th-21st at the Pueblo Convention Center (320 Central Main Street, Pueblo, CO). This year’s conference will expand on the Fire Adapted Communities concept, providing the framework for moving from awareness to action. Anyone wishing to learn more about how they can reduce their community’s vulnerability to wildfire is welcome to attend. CE opportunities for REALTORS® will be also be available. For more information and to register, click here.
NAR Midyear Meetings in Washington, DC: May 15-20, 2017
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 opens on February 15, 2017. Click here for more information.
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.