30 Dec December Report – From the TAR Government Affairs Department
December Article| 2019
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San Miguel County Could be Impacted by Sage Grouse Preservation Plan
San Miguel County Commissioners revisited the subject of protecting the habitat of the Gunnison sage-grouse in the West End of the county. Heather Widlund, county geographic information systems coordinator, updated the board using maps showing habitat management priority areas.
Widlund explained the importance of protecting not only the habitat physically inhabited by sage-grouse populations in the county, but also the buffer zones of up to a mile around the habitat. Sage-grouses are sensitive to noise disturbances, so the unoccupied habitat, as well as the surrounding non-habitat zones, are key to ensuring the health of the sage-grouse population.
Protecting the Gunnison sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird with a puffed-up chest and a striking striped tail plumage, has been a major effort in conservation across the state for over two decades. Populations of the chicken-sized bird have declined in the past decade. As of 2017, less than 250 Gunnison sage-grouse remained in the San Miguel Basin.
The sage-grouse recovery plan draft will go to the board for review in mid-December.
Terrorism Insurance Reauthorization Moves Forward in Congress
In late November the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4634, the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019,” by a vote of 385-22. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) would reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP) for seven years. The bill did not make changes to the structure of TRIP, but does include a requirement for a study on cyberterrorism, an emerging threat.
Almost immediately after, the Senate Banking Committee approved its companion bill, S. 2877, sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tina Smith (D-MN), by unanimous voice vote. This bill also reauthorizes the program for seven years. Its passage out of committee clears the path for it to move ahead in the Senate, a very positive step over a year out from the current program’s expiration.
TRIP provides a government backstop for insured losses as the result of a terrorist attack, and since its original passage in 2002 has allowed private insurers to keep terrorism coverage affordable and available in the U.S. Terrorism insurance is often a necessity for commercial real estate to get financing, and provides stability to the commercial real estate sector and the economy. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the full House in the near future. The current TRIP will expire at the end of 2020 unless Congress reauthorizes it.
NAR sent a letter of support for the bill to the Senate Banking Committee members, stressing its importance to commercial real estate and the economy. NAR is a Steering Committee member of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT), comprised of industry stakeholders who are committed to ensuring TRIP’s reauthorization before the end of 2020.
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.