By Dan Hazy
This month our Governmental Affairs committee at Greater Tampa REALTORS® packed up and headed to Tallahassee for Great American REALTOR Days (GARD). GARD is an annual event that allows REALTORS® to speak with state senators and house representatives on legislation important to GTR members and homeowners. Below is a highlight of the issues discussed with state legislators during our trip to the Capitol building.
Commitment to Water Quality and Clean Environment
Greater Tampa REALTORS® and Florida REALTORS® continues to engage with future legislators to advocate for sound policies that will have a positive effect on environmental restoration efforts in the state. Water is the lifeblood of all Florida residents and visitors. We need safe drinking water as well as it serves to protect our environment. After all, who would want to visit or move to Florida if the beaches, springs, lakes and rivers were not as beautiful as they are?
The State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds were created in the early 1990s to help Floridians in good times and bad. For thousands of families, these funds are the only way to realize the American dream of homeownership. GTR and FR continues to advocate for full funding from the trust funds to be allocated for affordable housing projects.
Private Property Rights
The internet has made it easier for homeowners to rent their property by expanding housing options for individuals who live in, or travel to, Florida. Many local governments have enacted new ordinances designed to discourage property owners from exercising their right to rent property. State and local REALTOR® associations, while respecting community concerns, are well positioned to monitor state and local regulatory activity and to take action to protect private property rights. Being able to rent your home is a fundamental right.
Open and Expired Permits
It is common for an open permit to interfere with the closing of a real estate transaction. GTR and FR support legislation that helps property owners close both open and expired permits when the original contractor is unable or unavailable to do so.
Assignment of Benefits
An Assignment of Benefits (AOB) provides insurance policyholders with the ability to assign their post-loss insurance benefits to a contractor. These contractors can then directly charge the insurance company for the cost of remediation or repairs. However, a growing number of contractors have been inflating the cost of repairs. GTR and FR support legislation that would reform the assignment of benefits process to help stop this abuse.
Online Remote Notarization
FR supports the adoption of tools and processes that improve the experience for consumers and the REALTORS® serving them. Remote online notarization is one of those tools, modernizing the sales transaction and allowing for increased flexibility when it comes to closings.
Business Rent Tax
Lowering the business rent tax will provide Florida businesses with the capital to expand, hire more employees, improve benefits and raise salaries. GTR and FR continues to advocate for further reductions to this tax, giving businesses financial resources to grow their companies and enrich their communities.
Elevation mapping is one of the tools that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses to determine flood insurance zones and rates. LIDAR (light detection and ranging) mapping is currently the most technologically advanced elevation mapping process that has been developed. GTR and FR support the most accurate elevation mapping process and the funding needed to pay for it.
These are not just REALTOR® issues, these are concerns for all property owners, business owners, tenants and even visitors to Florida. As REALTORS®, we take it upon ourselves to protect property rights, keep our waterways clean and maintain a healthy environment. This is why I am a member of our Governmental Affairs committee and why I support RPAC.