I’d like to a minute and introduce myself to those who do not know me. My name is Conor Gillis and I am NYSAR’s newest Government Affairs Field Representative. In my role with NYSAR, I work with several REALTOR Boards, including GCAR, to increase their local government, and political advocacy.
While REALTOR advocacy efforts at the Federal level are important, engagement at both the state and local level are even more critical, as many local proposals have a direct impact on REALTORS and their day-to-day work. This past year GCAR was on the front lines directly engaging and lobbying local lawmakers on a range of issues.
Early in 2018, the Albany County Legislature introduced Local Law “I”, a proposal that would impose a new county mandate requiring all new construction homes and townhouses to install residential fire sprinkler systems. Conservative estimates projected the cost of that mandate to be over $15,000. Through the efforts of GCAR leadership and NYSAR, I am happy to report that this bill did not advance out of committee and has been subsequently withdrawn by the sponsor.
In addition to Local Law “I,” GCAR also lobbied against a bill, carried by Senator Neil Breslin, and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, which would have established a Community Preservation Fund by increasing the real estate transfer tax. Because of the lobbying efforts of local REALTORS, NYSAR has received assurances from Senator Breslin that he will not re-introduce the bill this session. Assemblywoman Fahy has also stated publicly that she will not move forward with the bill. NYSAR will continue to monitor this issue moving forward.
As the 2019 legislative session begins, Democrats will have full control of both the Senate and the Assembly for the first time since 2009. NYSAR’s government affairs team has been cultivating relationships with leaders in the Senate Democratic Conference and has positioned itself to once again be a strong advocate for realtor interests. While we wait to see what pieces of legislation are introduced, NYSAR will continue to support proposals that increase homeownership and protect property rights. We will again support passage of the NY First Home Savings Bill, which would allow potential homebuyers to deposit up to $5,000 a year into a state tax-free savings account toward a first home. Late in 2018, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that calls for a study of the homebuyer issue, and while we are happy he did so, we will continue to push for the passage of the NY First Home Savings Bill in this upcoming session, pending the results of the study.
At the fall business meetings, the NYSAR Legislative Steering Committee requested NYSAR Government Affairs staff to seek legislation that would increase licensees’ continuing education requirement to 26 hours for license renewal. The additional hours will cover ethical and legal business practices
The Committee also motioned NYSAR staff to seek legislation to eliminate the exemption of continuing education requirements for grandfathered licensees.
NYSAR is also prepared to defend REALTOR’s from potentially harmful pieces of legislation that may be introduced during this legislative session. We will fight against potential proposals to increase the real estate transfer tax, increase the state and local mortgage recording tax, additional oversight of wetlands areas, and many other proposals that would be detrimental to REALTORS and their businesses.
The upcoming legislative session will be one the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Your NYSAR Government Affairs team is ready to advocate on your behalf. I look forward to seeing everyone at Lobby Day on May 7th!