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June 1st, 2007 10:40 AM by Ron Mastrodonato

Florida Legislature may agree on method of property tax reform

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 17, 2007 – While a House-Senate committee discussing Florida property values has not reached any conclusions, negotiators said yesterday they’ve tentatively agreed on a method to use – expand existing exemptions, such as homestead, and create new ones for non-homesteaded properties.

The announcement followed an earlier release from House Democrats touting their version of property tax reform, which included larger exemptions. Their version would exempt 50 percent of a home’s value for homesteaded owners. Other property owners could exempt 25 percent of their value for tax purposes up to a maximum of $250,000 for larger commercial properties.

House Republicans had suggested a similar plan earlier, but with more dramatic exempt amounts. Some leading state senators have also expressed support for this type of tax-cutting plan, though all parties still remain far apart in the amount of the exemption. House Speaker Marco Rubio earlier suggested an exemption as high as 80 percent for homesteaded owners, though he was less clear on the amount other owners should enjoy.

A meeting of the joint House-Senate takes place on Monday at 1 p.m. in Tallahassee, one of two interim meetings scheduled before the full Legislature returns for a special session Jun 12-22.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel, May 17, 2007



NAR Convention: Realtors take agenda to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON – May 17, 2007 – More than 8,000 Realtors® visited the U.S. Congress and their personal representatives yesterday, part of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. The message they delivered: Lawmakers must address issues such as affordable housing, mortgage lending and the separation of commerce and banking to ensure the industry’s continued health and vitality.

Realtors also urged action on housing finance issues such as modernizing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), reforming government-sponsored enterprises, establishing stronger lending principles, and eliminating the “phantom tax” on foreclosures and short sales. Other key legislative priorities: Securing affordable health insurance for small business owners and continuing federal tax policies that support homeownership.

“Realtors are in the business of building communities – our clients and customers are our friends and neighbors,” says NAR President Pat V. Combs of Grand Rapids, Mich. “When qualified home buyers can’t afford a home, or when families fall behind on rising mortgage payments, Realtors must speak out on their behalf.”

The House is moving soon on a number of key housing finance bills that directly affect the real estate industry. The full House is expected to consider H.R. 1427, regulatory reform legislation for GSEs, this week. Realtors strongly support reform legislation that would allow regional adjustments to conforming loan limits in high-cost housing markets. The bill provides other reforms that also strengthen the housing industry.

Realtors also asked their elected officials to support H.R. 698, The Industrial Bank Holding Company Act of 2007, scheduled for floor vote next week. This legislation maintains the long-supported national policy prohibiting the mixing of banking and commerce.

The Community Choice in Real Estate Act, H.R. 111, for the House and S. 413 for the Senate, has been gaining momentum and remains a priority for Realtors. Currently, H.R. 111 has 223 cosponsors, and S. 413 – the companion bill in the Senate – has 20 cosponsors. One-year bans have prevented banks from engaging in real estate brokerage for the past five years, but this bill will make the ban permanent.

Realtors also discussed the need to establish a comprehensive national natural disaster policy and to reform the national flood insurance program. In addition, nearly 30 percent of Realtors lack health care insurance. NAR and its members are aggressively urging Congress to establish a bill that will make health insurance available and affordable to independent contractors, small business owners and their employees.


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Posted by Ron Mastrodonato on June 1st, 2007 10:40 AM


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