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May 1, 2015
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Congress Sparks Energy

Copyright Johan Swanepoel

Wide-ranging energy legislation was considered this week by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  This included several key priorities for multifamily building owners and managers nationwide.

Specifically, a House committee hearing on energy efficiency was held on April 30. The hearing included discussions about the "Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act" that offers items long supported by our industry. The hearing also examined a solution to newly proposed furnace efficiency standards that could pose significant retrofit barriers in properties.

NMHC/NAA have long-supported efforts to help apartment owners improve the energy performance of their properties.  In addition, we continue to oppose legislation that would boost apartment efficiency through burdensome building codes or other regulatory mandates.
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NMHC Insider
Message to FHFA: Don't Forget to Keep Multifamily Capital Flowing
As we previously reported, NMHC staff met with Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt and key agency members on April 15. The discussion focused on the state of the multifamily market and industry concern that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will hit their related production caps well before the end of the year.
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Tapping Foreign Investors for Multifamily May Soon Be Easier
House Ways and Means Committee members Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Joe Crowley (D-NY) introduced a bill on April 30 that would reduce the barriers that the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) places on foreigners investing in U.S. real estate. Currently, foreign investment in real estate is discouraged because FIRPTA taxes gains on the income earned from, and the sale of, real estate nationwide. This prevents multifamily and other real estate companies from tapping into foreign capital – an important source for developing, upgrading and refinancing properties.
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Data Sharing Gains Momentum on Cybersecurity Week
Last week marked the annual “Cybersecurity Week” in the House and lawmakers took up two information sharing bills. They include the “Protecting Cyber Networks Act” and the “National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015.” Both bills encourage public-private cyber threat information sharing and provide liability protections to businesses who share threat indicators. Both bills passed the House with broad bipartisan support and will be merged into one proposal.
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EPA and Corps' Water Proposal Keeps Lightning Rod Reputation
This week, the House addressed the controversial and soon-to-be-finalized “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule that was jointly proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The issue was taken up as part of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, which contains a provision that prevents the Corps from spending funds on the rule.  The WOTUS rule would significantly increase the permitting requirements, and associated costs, for property owners and developers without necessarily resulting in improved water quality.
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Momentum for Curbing "Patent Trolls" Grows
A House committee approved the “Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters (TROL) Act” on April 29. The bill would help curb abusive patent demand letters by requiring certain details to claim an infringement.  The legislation would also authorize tougher enforcement against so-called “patent trolls.” Real estate companies have been the target of patent infringement lawsuits involving WiFi, web-based transactions platforms, construction practices and more.
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Wonky Ruling Raises Q's About Risky Commercial Real Estate Loans
Last summer, after a drawn out comment period, the federal banking regulators, Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and FDIC issued the final ruling on the implementation of the Basel III banking regulations.  Among the massive number of changes to the regulatory and capital requirements for banks was a section that looked to address the higher risk in Acquisition, Development and Construction loans known as High Volatility Commercial Real Estate Loans.
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Presidential Veto of "Ambush" Election Rule on Shaky Ground
The Senate on May 4 is set to attempt to override President Obama's veto of legislation to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s “ambush” election rule. The effort is expected to fail given that the underlying measure passed the Senate by a vote of 53-46, well short of the 67 votes necessary to override a veto. The shortened period provided by the rule would deny multifamily employers due process rights and the ability to communicate with their employees before an election.
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Fox News: With Home Construction Lagging, Apartment Building is Taking Its Place
The Fox News story “Apartment Construction a Booming Business Nationwide” is the latest example of the coast-to-coast news coverage earned by the joint NMHC/NAA PR campaign. “With home construction lagging, apartment building is taking its place as a leading economic driver,” says the story.  In addition to the Fox News national audience, the segment appeared dozens of times in local Fox affiliates around the country. The campaign has generated 300 stories about the positive economic impact of apartments since the campaign’s inception.
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NMHC PAC Spring Board Meeting - Success!
Record attendance, informative and interesting panels and productive committee meetings - the NMHC Spring Board meeting last week was another tremendous success.
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Hill Watch
The House is in recess next week and reports of industry related Senate hearings are pending.
Media Roundup
Stress Tests Reiterate Lack of Capital for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
Wall Street Journal
Experts Debate Disparate Impact's Influence as Supreme Court Weighs Case
New York Times
So, Totally Color-Blind Housing Policy is Now Discriminatory Lending?
Housing Wire
NYC'S No-Longer-Ailing Developers Seek to Retain 1971 Tax Break
House Passes Final Budget Deal
Jeb Bush to National Review: "I Love You," but "You're Wrong on Immigration"
National Journal
The Roots of Baltimore's Riots
The Scoop

Is That Ivanka Trump in DC… Again?

Uber businesswoman Ivanka Trump is spending a lot of time in DC lately.  Most recently, she was spotted at the Palm with DC Mayor Muriel Browser. Part of the reason she’s in town is to help oversee the Trump Empire’s redevelopment of the Old Post Office building – on Washington’s famous Pennsylvania Avenue – into a luxury hotel.

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