June/July Report – From the TAR Government Affairs Department

June/July Report – From the TAR Government Affairs Department

June/July Article| 2019

Two Newcomers, Two Incumbents Elected in Mountain Village

Newcomers Peter Duprey and Martinique Davis Prohaska and incumbents Dan Caton and Laila Benitez were recently elected to four-year terms, according to Mountain Village Town Council election results this week.

Benitez, the current mayor, led all candidates with 253 votes, while Caton, current mayor pro-tem, followed with 238 tallies. Duprey and Prohaska received 203 and 196 votes, respectively. Fellow candidates Chris Busbee and Kara Mills garnered 175 and 99 votes, respectively. The two first-time council members will replace Dan Jansen, who termed out after serving two four-year terms, and Bruce MacIntire, who was elected in 2015 but chose not to seek re-election. The new council members will be officially sworn in at the July 18 council meeting, when a new mayor and mayor pro-tem will be appointed. They’ll join current council members Patrick Berry, Natalie Binder and Jack Gilbride. Of the 935 ballots issued, 340 were returned — a 40 percent voter turnout, according to a town news release.

Mountain Village City Council Gets to Work with New Members

Newly elected council members Peter Duprey and Martinique Davis Prohaska, as well as re-elected council members Laila Benitez and Dan Canton, were officially sworn-in as members of the Mountain Village Town Council during last week’s meeting. Each serving four-year terms, they join current council members Patrick Berry, Jack Gilbride and Natalie Binder. Following the swearing-in ceremony, Benitez was re-elected as mayor and Canton was re-elected as mayor pro tem, each by unanimous vote, for two-year terms.

At last week’s meeting, council considered approval of a number of items related to the upcoming 1G fiber construction project as engineering, design and initial construction has begun. The first phase of the project is estimated to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

Mayor Benitez is excited to continue implementing the recommended improvements for the Village Center and Town Hall Subareas. Projects already underway include a 49-unit expansion of the Village Court Apartments (VCA), launching the Common Consumption Area and a major overhaul of the pond area next to the Conference Center.

Council heard a first reading of an ordinance considering a density transfer, rezone and height variance for the VCA expansion at the meeting. Preliminary plans call for breaking ground on the affordable housing project later this year with funding through a revenue loan paid for by VCA rents and dedicated monies from the Mountain Village Affordable Housing Fund. A final hearing of the ordinance is scheduled for the next Town Council meeting Aug. 15.

Affordable Housing Lottery Goes Live

As reported in the Daily Planet, The lottery to become the owner of a brand new deed-restricted apartment in the Town of Telluride has opened. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 29 at noon and the drawing will take place Sept. 12 at Rebekah Hall at noon.

Applicants must meet a range of income, employment and residency requirements in order to qualify and, depending on family size and other variables, can choose from one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. All offer covered parking or garages. Pets are permitted and are limited to two dogs or two cats (or one of each) per unit.

Under construction since early last year, both projects are nearing completion. Formerly known as the Lot B and SMPA projects, each has been christened with new names with historical resonance. Lot B, located on the west side of Mahoney Drive near the Entrada neighborhood along the San Miguel River, is now called the Longwill 16. Geneva Shaunette, Telluride Town Council and Telluride Housing Authority (THA) subcommittee member, explained that the Pearl property (which abuts Longwill 16 to the north) was once owned by a dairy farmer named Longwill who called his operation the 16-1 Dairy. The new housing project has 16 units.

The SMPA mixed-use project on the 100 block of South Fir Street will not just be home to a slew of new homeowners, but is also the Ah Haa School for the Arts’ new space and a 70-space underground parking garage. Its new name is Silver Jack. Silver Jack, in addition to hearkening back to the area’s mining legacy, was also the name of late, former Telluride Mayor, John Micetic’s 1970s-era restaurant, The Silverjack, once located across the alley to the north where Telluride Sports now stands. Shaunette said that in the naming contest the subcommittee held, the SMPA project’s suggestions were “all over the place,” but the group liked the suggestions Nellie and Silver Jack best. Silver Jack was selected, she said, and “sounded like a good, downtown name.”  For applicant requirements, unit specifications, lottery packets, applications and other pertinent info, visit smrha.org. 

Efficient Light Bulbs Available Through County Wide Program – Good News for Homeowners

The 2019 GREENLIGHTS program, an LED light bulb rebate program has now been launched. It’s sponsored by the San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) and local municipalities.

New to the program: the extremely discounted LED light bulbs will be available at your local Farmers Market, so when you go to pick up your fresh produce, you can also purchase LED light bulbs – many for just $1! Participating regional Farmers Markets include Telluride, Mountain Village, Norwood, and Nucla.

Funding for GREENLIGHTS comes from SMPA, local governments, and the Telluride Foundation. Purchasers will need to bring their SMPA bill or have the SMPA Smart Hub app on their phone to verify their service address and SMPA account number.

SMPA supports the GREENLIGHTS special promotional program by allowing the SMPA light bulb rebates to be assessed at the time of purchase. Further, local municipalities are matching 50 percent of the SMPA rebate. Thanks are owed to the Town of Telluride, Mountain Village, Ridgway, and Ouray, as well as San Miguel and Ouray Counties for supporting this funding match. 

State News – CAR Accepting Applications for Advocacy Related Committees

The Colorado Association of REALTORS® is now accepting applications from members for service on the Legislative Policy Committee, the CAR Political Action Committee and the newly created Key Contact program. These groups are a great way to lend your talents to the advocacy arm of CAR and to protect our industry’s political future. Details of each group are as follows:

Legislative Policy Committee (LPC):

Description: LPC members are to review, prepare, and make decisions based upon legislation that will be or has been introduced in the 2020 Colorado Legislative Session (meet primarily January through May).

Term Length: 1-year

Term Begins: December 2019

CAR Political Action Committee (CARPAC):

Description: CARPAC members are charged with managing and distributing RPAC funds for local and state candidates and issues, supporting grassroots and lobbying efforts, and educating REALTOR® members on matters of public policy. 

Term Length: 4-year

Term Begins: December 2019

Vacancies: (1) Western District, (1) Mountain District, (2) At-Large

NEW** Key Contacts Program:

Description: To assist CAR’s legislative advocacy efforts, CAR has created a grasstops lobbyist network to establish one REALTOR® as a Key Contact for each Colorado State Legislator. Key Contacts will be activated and called upon at strategic moments to help influence state legislators on issues impacting the Colorado Association of REALTORS®.

For more information on any of these projects or to request an application, please contact Nick Bokone directly at nickbok22@gmail.com or 303-807-4067.  Applications for all three opportunities are due by no later than Friday, August 30, 2019. 

National News – House Committee Passes Flood Bill

 On June 12, 2019, by a unanimous vote of 59 to 0, the House Financial Services Committee approved HR 3167: the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Reauthorization Act, sending the bill to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

The NFIP Reauthorization Act would extend the program for five years and include significant reforms to strengthen flood mapping, enhance mitigation investments and remove several barriers to private flood insurance options. It easily cleared the first hurdle of the legislative process because it was the product of extensive, bipartisan negotiations between Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

NAR supported committee passage because the bill represents a long-term solution to NFIP and a breakthrough of the two-year deadlock that has resulted in 12 short-term extensions and two brief lapses so far.  The bill is not only a sensible, bipartisan pathway forward, but also includes numerous NAR-championed provisions and is consistent with long-standing NAR policy principles.

Next, the House of Representatives must vote on the measure but the timing is not yet clear. NAR will urge the House to take up the NFIP Reauthorization Act at the first available opportunity and move the bill to the United States Senate. Currently, NFIP’s flood-insurance-writing authority is next set to expire on September 30, 2019.

Congress Passes VA Loan Bill

 The President is expected to sign H.R. 299, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.” This legislation includes language which will eliminate the cap on the VA home loan guarantee. Veterans, under this legislation, will be able to purchase any home they qualify for using the VA home loan (with zero down payment).

As introduced, the legislation would slightly increase some of the guarantee fees for all veterans using the VA loan program, in order to pay for the healthcare component. NAR opposed this language, and in conjunction with other groups, was able to mitigate the impact of these increases. NAR will continue to work with the VA on implementing the loan limit provision and assuring all veterans have access to the home loan benefit.

NAR Supports Credit Reporting Bill

On July 16, 2019, NAR sent a letter to Representative Gottheimer in support of provisions two through six of the Accurate Access to Credit Information Act of 2019. Among other things, the five provisions of the bill would provide access to free credit scores, transparency in the reporting process and use of consumer credit information, high standards for vetting credit information, and a reliable method for contesting and correcting inaccurate information. While NAR has no position on the primary regulator of the CRAs, NAR appreciates Representative Gottheimer’s efforts to clarifying that important point.

NAR Monitors Senate Hearing on Cannabis Banking Issues

On Tuesday, July 23, the Senate Banking Committee, led by Chairman Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Brown (D-OH) held a hearing on “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives.”  The first panel was comprised of Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), cosponsors of S. 1200, the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions that accept funds from cannabis businesses and ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry.  Under current federal law, cannabis is an illegal controlled substance, so federally-insured banks are barred from accepting funds from them, or risk violating anti-money laundering laws.  However, thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis use in some form, presenting challenges to both the state-sanctioned cannabis businesses and financial institutions.  Senators Gardner and Merkley explained how the disconnect between the laws in their home states – both of which have booming legal-cannabis industries – and federal law are having negative impacts on their constituency, from increased risk of crime (due to having to work in an all-cash industry) to difficulty collecting taxes.

The second panel included witnesses from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the American Bankers Association (ABA), who explained how, as the cannabis industry grows, so does the network of other industries that intersect with it, including transportation, property management, even accounting and legal services. This means that more and more businesses are at risk of being in violation of federal law, and that it is difficult for financial institutions to ascertain if they are accepting money from a business that is in any way connected with the cannabis industry.  They also outlined the many ways that financial institutions are already working with the federal government to prevent money laundering, and that, should they be able to legally work with cannabis businesses, they would be able to provide important information to the government through their regular reports on the financial state of that industry and its impact on the economy.

NAR sent a letter of support for the SAFE Banking Act to the Committee.  The cannabis industry is especially tied to real estate – it requires land, warehouses, storefronts, etc., and many REALTORS® have clients that are in some way connected to it.  It is important that Congress act to allow these state-sanctioned businesses access to banking services, both to improve the safety of those communities and to have clearer compliance and oversight of the industry itself.

This monthly government affairs/public policy report is prepared for information purposes for the members of the Telluride Association of REALTORS® (TAR). It is a snap shot of issues important to the real estate industry at the local, state, and national levels. Any position taken on local issues is done at the direction of the TAR Board of Directors and is done with considerable debate and discussion by TAR leadership. Positions taken by CAR or NAR on issues at the state and national level will be reflected in the article when applicable.

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