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July 11, 2014
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Election Watch

Disparate Impact on Path to Supreme Court Once Again

Copyright: Sergign
For the third time since 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court has been petitioned to hear a case that may decide the fate of disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). In an amicus brief filed on June 16, NMHC urged the Court to grant the petition for certiorari (cert) and address an issue that has created much uncertainty in the apartment and real estate industry since HUD’s final disparate impact rule was released in March 2013. Two previous cases were accepted by the Court but the parties settled prior to review, leaving the issue unresolved.

In the latest case, Inclusive Communities Project v. Texas Department of Housing, the allocation of tax credits is being challenged as an allegedly discriminatory practice under the FHA based on its disparate impact on minority residents. Specifically, the Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) argued that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (Texas) disproportionately approved tax credits in minority neighborhoods while disproportionately rejecting them in majority white neighborhoods, thus violating the FHA and reinforcing patterns of segregation.

In March, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals determined HUD’s rule was the correct legal standard for considering whether the Texas tax credit allocations disparately impacted minorities, and directed the lower court to reconsider the merits of the case applying HUD’s analytical standard. The lower court’s review is on hold, however, following a June 23 order by the appeals court to await the Supreme Court’s decision on the Texas petition for cert.
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NMHC Insider
Castro Confirmed as HUD Secretary
Julian Castro sailed through Senate confirmation to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on July 9 with a vote of 71-26.  Many inside and outside Washington believe that this is just the next step for Castro who is considered a rising political star when it comes to visibility on the national stage.

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House Passes Bonus Depreciation Bill, White House Threatens Veto

On July 11, the House passed legislation (H.R. 4718) with a vote of 229-192 that would make permanent so-called bonus depreciation. The measure allows firms, including multifamily operators, to immediately deduct 50 percent of qualifying new equipment purchases as opposed to having to depreciate the entire expense over a period of years. However, the White House has threatened to veto the legislation, which it calls a “corporate giveaway” that would add hundreds of billions to the deficit over the next decade.

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House Introduces Bill That Would Wind Down Fannie and Freddie

The latest in a series of housing finance reform bills was introduced this week in the House by Representatives John Carney, D-Del., John Delaney, D-Md., and Jim Himes, D-Conn.  The bill winds down the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but preserves their government guarantee by folding them into Ginnie Mae.  The legislation includes a separate title for multifamily that recognizes the unique qualities of the business and preserves key related characteristics of the current system.

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House Hearing Focuses on "Science" Behind EPA Water Rule

On June 9, Deputy Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Robert Perciasepe testified in front of the House Science Committee on the science behind the agency’s proposed rule to expand the scope of waters subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act (WOTUS).  The rule would significantly increase the permitting requirements, and associated costs, for property owners and developers without necessarily resulting in improved water quality. In fact, the rule is so overly broad that it would apply to virtually all bodies of water, including man made ponds and ditches.

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Election Watch
NMHC Weighs-In on Primary Season Senate Races
With primary season in full swing, the make-up of the Senate is most definitely in play and it is becoming clear that the size of the Republican or Democratic majority in the Senate will surely be narrow.
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Hill Watch
Senate Committee Hearing on "The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress" on Tues., July 15
Senate Committee Hearing on "What Makes a Bank Systemically Important?" on Wed., July 16
Media Roundup
Obama Upends Politics in Yet Another State by Taking Julian Castro
National Journal
Senate Confirms Shaun Donovan to Run OMB
For GOP Leader McCarthy, It's House to Home
Wall Street Journal
Affordable Housing is About Access
The Hill
John Boehner Slams Obama on Migrant Crisis
House GOP Kills Last Hope for Immigration Bill
USA Today
The Scoop

VIDEO: Obama (Smoothly) Laughs Off Chance to Smoke Pot at Denver Bar
This week, President Barack Obama was in Denver where smoking pot is legal and decided to visit bars and restaurants across the city.  As he was shaking hands with and chatting up patrons at a local bar, one man yelled out, "You wanna hit, man?" Watch Obama's Reaction

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