LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: December Legislative Update

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: December Legislative Update
Philip Weiden

December has just about come and gone. Some progress has been made on the legislative front at the federal level. A $906-billion stimulus bill has been introduced in the Senate by a team of bipartisan lawmakers. The fate of the bill waxes and wanes each day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists the bill include liability reform that would protect businesses from lawsuits. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insist it include more than $100 billion for state and local governments. This could help prep schools for opening, prevent massive cuts to state and local governments, and extend unemployment insurance. At the moment as I write this, monthly stimulus checks have not been included in the deal. Inclusion of stimulus checks is seen as something that would help people pay their rent and mortgages.

A measure that could get done by the incoming Biden administration is student debt relief or cancellation. This could be done by executive order. One big idea is to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt. There are pros and cons to this. One that is particularly attractive to the real estate industry, is that it would free up money to save towards home ownership. A potential down side, according to the critics of this approach, is that it would reward borrowers who could afford to repay their loans. Proponents of this view feel that relief should be more targeted. This would include reducing the interest rate on the loans and forgiving a much smaller portion of the debt owed.

Finally, rent relief is being offered by New York State under a measure signed several months ago. People must show that they have been negatively impacted financially by COVID-19. Details can be found on Governor Cuomo’s website. The state of emergency has been extended through January and is likely to be extended again. The eviction moratorium has also been extended for people who have been affected by the pandemic. Stay tuned for updates on these issues.

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