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March 28, 2014
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NMHC's Carter Meets with Lawmakers as Fannie, Freddie Reform Gains Momentum

NMHC's Carter Meets With Representative Waters

With action on housing finance reform gaining momentum, NMHC Chairman Daryl Carter, founder, chairman and CEO of Avanath Capital Management, LLC, in Irvine, Calif., was in Washington for two days of high-level meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and key officials at the Department of Treasury to discuss proposals put forward in the Senate and House.

Carter and NMHC staff met with Ranking Member Maxine Waters, D- Calif., of the House Committee on Financial Services who just announced her much anticipated “Housing Opportunities Move the Economy (HOME) Forward Act”.  The Waters’ proposal builds on draft legislation released earlier this month by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, that would replace Fannie and Freddie with a new standardized platform-based mortgage finance system backstopped by the Federal Government.

In addition to meeting with Waters, NMHC/NAA discussed issues specific to multifamily in the Johnson-Crapo bill with Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.  Carter’s message to these lawmakers was that we appreciate that the bill maintains much of the current multifamily structure.  He also emphasized that we would like to work closely with them as they fine tune items such as the ten percent capital requirement and affordability issues. (Photos)

Importantly, the Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a markup and vote on the Johnson-Crapo bill on April 29 in an effort to pass the measure out of Committee and help keep housing finance reform on track. If significant progress does not take place in the coming weeks, reform could be placed on hold until after the November elections.  
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Political Ambitions in Congress Could Reignite Energy Legislation

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While the mid-term elections are still eight months away, political ambitions in Congress have the potential to reignite stalled energy legislation, including Republicans’ desire to retake the Senate majority in November. And any movement on an energy agenda on Capitol Hill has the potential to impact the multifamily industry.

NMHC/NAA have long-opposed building energy provisions that would focus on apartment efficiency through increased building codes or mandatory performance benchmarking programs.  Although the most objectionable energy code provisions for the multifamily sector are not included in the measures being considered, we continue to advocate for transparency, and for improvements to the existing code development and adoption process.

So what could be the specific political ambitions at play when it comes to moving energy legislation forward? Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have long-championed an energy package that includes building efficiency provisions. But earlier efforts to pass the measure were thwarted by greater political pressures, including Obamacare and energy production issues.  However, now that former Republican Senator Scott Brown is poised to challenge Shaheen in the upcoming election, Democratic senate leaders may look to bolster Shaheen’s accomplishments, while Republican supporters may cool to the idea of moving the bipartisan bill.
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NMHC Insider
New EPA Proposal Would Expand Clean Water Act's Scope to Virtually All Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rule on March 25 that would revise the scope of the Clean Water Act.  This expanded regulatory approach would increase the permitting requirements for property owners and developers with the significant costs associated with obtaining these permits not necessarily resulting in improved water quality.
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Changes to Federal Overtime Rules Coming, More May Qualify

In a March 13 memorandum, President Obama directed U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez to “update and modernize” federal overtime regulations, which generally require overtime pay for workers earning less than $455 per week paid on a salary basis (not hourly), subject to certain exemptions.

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Senate Set to Renew Expired Tax Provisions

The Senate Finance Committee is expected on April 2 to take Congress’ first step this year toward renewing several tax provisions that expired in 2013 which are likely to benefit the multifamily industry.  Specifically, the Committee’s so-called tax extenders bill would restore the flat nine percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction, and Energy Efficient New Homes Tax Credit.

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President Obama Signs Flood Insurance Bill Easing Rates

President Obama signed the flood insurance bill on March 21, easing the flood insurance premium rates that Congress enacted in 2012 as part of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

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HUD Seeks Comments on Section 8 Renewal Guide Proposal
HUD is seeking comments on proposed revisions to the Section 8 Renewal Guide, which provides guidance for renewing expiring project-based Section 8 contracts.  However, the real estate industry is concerned with changes related to how rental costs are calculated in order to determine eligibility for the program.
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Save the Date: Support and Get Involved In NMHC PAC Now!
Please join us on April 3 for an NMHC PAC conference call led by PAC Chairman Peter Donovan that will focus on our advocacy efforts and reaching this year’s aggressive $1.5 million goal. We need your participation and support during this critical election year to help reelect and elect pro-apartment members of Congress who play integral roles in the issues that impact the 35 million Americans who call an apartment home. Body text here.
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Hill Watch
House Appropriations Hearing on FY 2015 Department of Energy Budget, Wed., April 2
House Oversight Hearing on Public Housing, Wed., April 2
Senate Hearing on FY 2015 HUD Budget, Wed., April 2
House Energy & Commerce Hearing on FY 2015 Department of Energy Budget, Thurs., April 3
Media Roundup
Waters Fannie Mae Bill Seeks Lender-Owned Mortgage-Debt Issuer
Housing Finance Overhaul Plan Finds Divisions on the Left
CQ Roll Call
Obama Endorses House Dem Immigration Push
Demarco to Leave FHFA After Leading Fannie Mae Conservatorship
This Will Probably Cause the Next Great Recession
Senate Report: Target Could Have Prevented Credit Card Hack
Huffington Post
Minimum Wage is Now Central White House Economic Theme
Wall Street Journal
NMHC Featured: $1 Trillion - The Economic Benefit of Apartment Housing
Freddie Mac Blog
The Scoop

Is Nothing Sacred? Fed Chairman Yellen “Photobombed” by House Minority Leader Pelosi
In news you can use this week… well, maybe not… Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen posed for a photo after a Women’s History Month event on Capitol Hill, but was “photobombed” by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. 

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