Government Affairs Directors usually have 2 or 3 times a year we do a ‘fly-up’ to Sacramento. The morning is spent with our lobbyists and policy staff, the afternoon with our legislators, schedules permitting. This year, budgets being what they are, we are eliminating at least some of the fly-ups in favor of webinars.
This morning we had an opportunity to get an update from and hold a Q & A with Alex Creel & Stan Weig. For those of you who don’t know these two, Alex is our chief state lobbyist and Stan is deputy chief. Alex has been with CAR for something like 22 years now and as a team they know more about what happens in Sacramento than most of our legislators do. (Ooooh, like that’s a challenge.)
In response to a question, Alex said that if history is any indicator, CAR will not be taking a position on Propositions 1A – 1F as they are ‘not real estate related’. The last time we stepped outside our box was to endorse the 1980 Jarvis-Ganz tax bill known as Prop 13. (You can read a summary & recommendations from our partners at the Southwest California Legislative Council here)
He also noted that CAR would not be sponsoring any bills this session. Citing a difficult political and economic climate, any bills that involve spending are DOA but ‘revenue enhancement‘ bills and anything ‘green‘ are on the fast track. Of course by ‘revenue enhancement’ bills, we’re talking taxes. With the state facing an immediate deficit of $8 billion (just announced by LAO), or the $14 Billion projection if 1A doesn’t pass, taxes and fees are back on the table. He said it could go from not pretty to pretty ugly real fast.
Between the tax & fee bills and a number of point-of-sale bills, Alex feels this will be a strategically defensive year both at the state and local level. The more spending is curtailed at the state level, the more burdens fall to our local governments to off-set losses. That leaves us liable to tax attacks.
In other updates we learned that the Septic Regulations we have been arguing against are going back for another revision. I’ve lost track of how many this makes and if history is any indicator, the new regs will just find new ways to be bad. Or maybe they finally heard the people and will realize new regs aren’t necessary, or they can draft some regs to reinforce the regs that already exist. Naw – they’ve been justifying their existence for 9 years now. No use jumping off this milk train too soon. How would you like to have spent YOUR last 8 years studying sewage, wastewater and septic systems? And still not learned anything? Talk about your life being in the crapper.
Anyway, look for new regs maybe by late summer with another brief round of public hearings in the fall.
We have lobbied hard to expand the $10,000 statewide new homebuyers credit to include the purchase of any home – unfortunately with the state on track to log 600,000+ home sales this year, that’s a $6 billion plus pricetag nobody’s willing to pick up.
Finally, what we’re seeing locally is being repeated in numerous markets around the state. Sales are on the rise while prices continue to decline. As this was a legislative update rather than a financial one, no prognosis was rendered on how and when we would be through this.
From an advocacy standpoint, sometimes a good defense is the best offense. Your legislative team will be doing our best to keep you at the table.