Legislative Update from Florida Realtors Mid-Winter Meeting

Hey PRO members – Joe Farrell, your Director of Government Affairs for the Pinellas REALTOR® Organization here. Last week during Florida REALTORS® Mid-Winter Meetings I sat in on some great sessions about property taxes, property insurance, the Sadowski trust funds, and RPAC.  We look forward to pushing for legislation benefitting Realtors and consumers. Three of the several issues we will be working on are:

1. Commercial Rental Tax –  The economic impact is still being worked out, but right now we would save consumers over $1 Billion dollars in taxes per year if we eliminated the 6% tax on commercial leases.  Currently, we are the only state in the country that has sales tax on commercial leases.  This puts our members at an economic disadvantage with other states.

2. Affordable Housing Trust Funds – Almost $200 Million is set aside for the Sadowski Trust Fund each year.  The money is generated from documentary stamp taxes and is supposed to be spent on affordable housing programs that benefit low-income families, teachers, firefighters, senior citizens, etc.  In recent years the legislature has raided the trust fund and used the money to fill gaps in the budget.  This year there is a surplus, but many special interests want a piece of that pie.  We will be working to protect new home buyers and their access to funding.

3.  Judicial Foreclosure – The average foreclosure process takes twice as long in Florida as the rest of the country.  Rep. Kathleen Passidomo has filed  a bill that aims to streamline the process.  Florida Realtors will be working to ensure that any alternative procedures designed to speed up the foreclosure process in uncontested or meritless cases have safeguards that protect all parties.

Every year new issues arise that alter the course of session.  We will continue to be vigilant.  As in previous years we will be on the lookout for any and all legislation that effects our industry.  If you have any questions or comments please contact me at jfarrell@tampabayrealtor.com.