After a lengthy interim, the Minnesota Legislature will convene on March 8th to begin the 2016 Session. Lawmakers will have less than twelve weeks to complete their work by the constitutionally mandated adjournment date of May 23rd. That time window is even smaller when you consider holidays. One of the reasons for the late start and short session is the fact that the State Capitol is in the midst of a massive, $272.2 million renovation. 2016 is also an election year…a reality that often leads to some interesting decision-making and strategy by legislative leadership. All things considered, the 2016 Session will be unique and memorable. Here’s a list of the top five legislative topics that the Minnesota REALTORS® will advocate for during the 2016 Session:
Tax bills are important for the simple fact that they can create new taxes, raise existing taxes, or provide relief through lowering taxes. Last year, the Legislature did not pass a tax bill. One of the big questions going into the session is will there be an omnibus tax bill this year? Either way the Minnesota REALTORS® will advocate for the passage of federal tax conformity legislation that includes extensions for mortgage debt forgiveness and mortgage insurance premium deductibility.
Manufactured Home Titles
This fall, Minnesota REALTORS® members brought forward examples of recurring problems with manufactured homes sales. Transferring ownership of a manufactured home can sometimes present challenges that transferring ownership of other types of real property does not. Owners of manufactured homes may have difficulty selling because the title has been lost or never issued, or the “Certificate of Origin” is lost or was never issued. The lobbying team is working with other key stakeholders on potential administrative or, if necessary,legislative approaches to addressing the issue.
Interim Housing Ordinances
State law grants municipal governments the authority to adopt emergency interim ordinances for the purpose of protecting the planning process and the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. However, a growing number of local units of government have used this authority to enact moratoria on housing related activities from new construction to leasing of single family homes. These moratoria are often passed without warning, a reality which has had a jarring effect on development and property use. The Minnesota REALTORS® is working with the Builders Association on this issue and will advocate for the passage of legislation to require a notice and hearing period before a housing related moratorium can be enacted.
Current law has resulted in an imbalance between condo owner protections and developer accountability. According to many developers, this imbalance in the risk/cost balance leads to contentious and expensive litigation over minor issues that may or not be construction defects. The result had been a chilling effect on the construction of new owner-occupied condos and a hole in the market. The Minnesota REALTORS® will advocate for legislation that creates a better balance between condo owner protections and developer accountability.
Patent trolls are plaintiff-side litigants who abuse the patent system, using the threat of patent lawsuits to extort licensing fees for the use of particular technologies. These threats often come in the form of demand letters that claim the recipient has infringed upon the sender’s patent interests. In reality, the patent claims asserted and extremely vague or wholly illegitimate. The Minnesota REALTORS® will advocate for legislation to curb the use of demand letters and bad faith assertions of patent infringement in Minnesota.
Vice President, Governmental Affairs
Associate Legal Counsel
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MN REALTORS® March REsource Magazine
The Minnesota REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members who are active in all aspects of the real estate industry.