Browse Tag: lobbying

CCIM’s Bill Milliken Talks Legislative Involvement

MAR President Bill Milliken, CCIM
MAR President Bill Milliken, CCIM

At the CCIM Institute, Bill Milliken, President of the Michigan Association of REALTORS®  works with the CCIM Legislative Affairs Department on legislative and policy issues.  Bill sat down to talk about legislative advocacy in the CCIM Podcast ahead of the CCIM’s April 10th Capitol Hill Visit.  The highlights:

What are some of the issues CCIM members plan to bring to up to Capitol Hill?

Bill: With the benefit of CCIM and IREM staff, we’ve got tremendous research that comes along with us on Hill visit. A lot of data is at our  disposal. We’ve got  a handful of issues.

Credit Union lending Cap — Credit Unions have been restricted to lennding 12% of their total assets. We’d like to see that double to help fill some of the the lending shortage in the market place.

There’s another [issues] called the Marketplace Equity Act.  That goes to internet sales tax losses that are experienced around the country by states and the federal government. When an internet sale takes place and there is no sales tax collected on it, the consequence of that here in Michigan alone is about $225 million a year in lost revenue from internet sales. There are a lot of units of government that are looking at that and were interested in talking to legislators about it.

Lease accounting [Meaning FASB’s proposed rules — see The Source on NAR’s recent advocacy on this issue –Editor]

You’re a  longtime supporter of the REALTORS® PAC (RPAC). What role does RPAC play in advocating for CCIM members?

Bill: Boy, RPAC has become increasingly important,  especially over the past couple of years. There was a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United that opened the floodgates for [campaign] funding, coming not from corporations but from wealthy individuals and other independent groups. Our group, RPAC, is a way that REALTORS® can get some footing and have some parity with the money thats flooding into the political process. In Michigan,our RPAC arm interviews each state candidate and makes endorsements based on how those candidates represent REALTOR® interests. The importance of donating to RPAC through CCIM or our state associations have never been more important.  No matter what you think of money in the political process, it’s part of it, and this is how we get our voices heard.

What advice would u give to someone who wants to get involved in legislative advocasy at the state or federal level?

Bill: One is to respond to the NAR’s calls for action.  Those are responding to issues in Congress in Washington, where voices need to heard.  We’re all linked up electronically to those calls of action. When you see those, its time to respond and sign in and make your voice heard.

Another way to do it is an investment in RPAC, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee. We had a goal in Michigan last year to raise $425,000 statewide. We exceeded that, raising $450,000 and we put that to very good use. CCIM’s Hill Day is on April 10th. That’s what we’re going to be doing this spring. Last year we had 265 CICMs and IREM representatives that were on the Hill for meetings for the day and its a great way to network and learn the political process.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Stay On Top Of Important Local And National Commercial Real Estate Legislation With Scout

One of the greatest things about our system of government is the amount of lawmaking done in public.  The texts of bills, and speeches on bills of all kinds is public information. When proposed laws come up, we have a chance to see what they are, where they came from, who they will benefit, who they will impact and why, and when the votes are coming.

But because of all the work involved, it’s still a only a slim chance.  Being allowed access to this information is merely the first step. For example, NAR Commercial’s efforts on Capitol Hill include this exhaustive work of staying on top of the congressional record, watching carefully for issues that relate to commercial real estate when they arise, tracking their progress through the chambers and replicating all of this for all 50 states in addition to DC.

Before action comes alert, filtering, progress monitoring.  So when a free software tool comes along to allow individuals to help out with the legwork needed before action, you bet we’re going to talk about it.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit based in DC dedicated to making government transparent and accountable.  They’ve rolled out Scout, which is an awesome new tool that alerts you when Congress or your state house proposes legislation that affects you or your commercial real estate clients.  You set up keywords such as “retail” or “commercial real estate” or “property tax” and the site will alert you when these terms appear in pending legislation — including in your state house!

Scout’s uses for commercial real estate pros are many.  All real estate is local, and so is all state legislation. Since Scout works with state houses and not just DC, there are numerous opportunities to use it to directly add value to your relationships.  Early warning about legislation coming down the pike in the state house about road construction in a given area can be a great subject of discussion between you and your retail clientele.  Bills proposing anything touching financial issues probably matter to your clients – Scout lets you be the one to bring them up.

Similarly, when Congress in DC kicks around changes in REIT accounting, it can help those of you in the investment side know what’s coming tax-wise and adjust accordingly.

Check out Scout. Watch the short tutorial video below and share with us what you find.  Help us keep government working for you.


Enhanced by Zemanta