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February 6, 2015
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NMHC INSIDER
HILL WATCH
MEDIA ROUNDUP
THE SCOOP

Let the Federal Budget Games Begin

Copyright: Ljupco Smokovski
President Obama sent his record-breaking $4 trillion FY 2016 budget request to Congress on Monday. More than a budget proposal, in any Administration this action has been traditionally treated as an opportunity to roll out new policy proposals, stake out positions, or highlight specific issues of interest to the Administration.  

Then, following the roll out, the President sends department heads from across the Federal Government to Capitol Hill to negotiate and justify their budgets with Senate and House lawmakers. That includes HUD Secretary Julián Castro and his senior team, who will be tasked with presenting numerous notable provisions in his department’s budget.
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NMHC Insider
CLEAN WATER ACT
Controversial Water Rule is Focus of Rare Joint Committee Hearing
On February 4, a rare joint hearing was held by key House and Senate Committees that focused on the potential impact on the economy of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule to expand the scope of waters subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act.  The proposal would significantly increase the frequency for obtaining federal permits for land development and, as a result, lead to costly project delays.
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TAXES
House Committee Takes First Baby Step in Renewing Tax Extenders
The House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill on February 4 that allows small businesses, including multifamily firms, to permanently write off up to $500,000 in qualifying investments in the year of purchase. This expensing limit would be phased down if overall investment costs exceed $2 million – ultimately, limiting the proposal to smaller multifamily operators. Without legislation, small businesses can in 2015 immediately deduct only $25,000 in investment costs.
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MILITARY HOUSING
Core Military Housing Benefit is Under Fire (Again)
For the second year, the Department of Defense’s budget request included a proposal to cut back the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), a core military benefit that compensates service members for their housing costs. The Pentagon argues that to combat budget challenges it must confront rising personnel costs. However, the proposed cut would increase the out-of-pocket expenses for one million troops and impact apartment communities that serve the military.
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OPEN INTERNET
FCC Chairman Announces Long-Awaited "Open Internet" Proposal
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the key principles of his long-awaited “Open Internet” proposal on February 4. The plan calls for the reclassification of broadband as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act, a provision traditionally applied to telephone companies. From marketing and leasing to revenue and amenities, multifamily firms and their residents may be impacted by policies affecting Internet access and speed. 
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EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Safety First: FCC Rules to Improve 911 Service in Apartment Communities
Apartment communities could benefit from new rules unanimously approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on January 29 that will help emergency responders more accurately identify the location of 911 calls made indoors using mobile phones.  Specifically, the rules will enable emergency dispatchers to more precisely find the location of mobile callers with vertical and horizontal coordinates based on data from wireless providers.
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WI-FI
FCC: Block Personal Wi-Fi Access and Pay a Hefty Fine, or Worse
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Enforcement Advisory on January 27 to warn commercial establishments against interfering with personal Wi-Fi networks or “hotspots.” The FCC cautioned that “jamming” Wi-Fi access is prohibited regardless of the intended target or purpose. Fines of up to $112,500 for a single act and imprisonment may be imposed for violating the rule.
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ENERGY-EFFICIENCY
Accessing Building Energy Performance Data is Made Easier

Apartment owners and operators who are interested in tracking building energy performance have faced challenges in obtaining whole building energy consumption data from their local utilities. As we have reported, this has limited industry participation in voluntary building labeling programs like ENERGY STAR. Now, the Department of Energy (DOE) and HUD are making it easier to address this market hurdle through the Data Accelerator Program.

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PATENT TROLLS
Congress Takes Aim at Abusive "Patent Trolls"
Patent reform legislation was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on February 5.  The legislation is focused on reigning-in abusive “patent trolls” that buy patents for the purpose of trolling for alleged violations and filing claims against alleged violators. Real estate companies have been the target of patent infringement lawsuits involving wireless technologies, electronic transactions and other web-based platforms.
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Hill Watch
Senate Committee Hearing on "Regulatory Relief for Community Banks and Credit Unions," on Tues., Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.
House Committee Hearing on "The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of the Federal Housing Administration," on Wed., Feb. 11 at 10 a.m.
Senate Committee Hearing on "The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things," on Wed., Feb. 11 at 10 a.m.
House Committee Hearing on "Examining Recent Supreme Court Cases in the Patent Arena," on Thurs., Feb. 12, 1 p.m.
House Subcommittee Hearing on "Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies: Emerging Threats and Technologies to Protect the Homeland," on Thurs., Feb. 12, 1 p.m.
Media Roundup
NAA Takes Industry's Case to Capitol Hill
GlobeSt.com - Highlights NMHC/NAA Joint Legislative Program
The Diminishing Returns of Today's Homeownership Policies
Washington Post
House Passes Small Business Bill
The Hill
GAO: Rampant Misconduct Among Senior HUD Officials Ran Deep
Housing Wire
House and Senate Republicans Clash on Immigration
Politico
How K St. Helped Push Terror Insurance Bill Over the Goal Line
The Hill
S&P Pays Nearly $1.38B to Settle Mortgage Crisis Claims
NPR
The Scoop

Wonky Trivia: When Did C-Span First Start Broadcasting on the Hill?

The network C-Span is known for bringing its viewers the wonkiest of television – live action (que yawn) in the House and Senate.  But you may be surprised to learn when they first turned their cameras on in those chambers.

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