Bell-Meyer brings with her over 10 years’ experience working with chambers of commerce and economic development initiatives.
Record HGAR Contingent Traveled to Albany To Press Lawmakers on Key Real Estate Bills
ALBANY—A new record of approximately 120 HGAR members and staff traveled to Albany on Tuesday, May 2 to meet with state lawmakers from the New York City/Hudson Valley regions to advocate on key real estate-related issues and legislation as part of the New York State Association of Realtors Lobby Day.
HGAR President Tony D’Anzica reported that this year’s association contingent was by far the most to ever participate in a Lobby Day event. NYSAR officials also noted that this year’s participation by associations across the state was also a new record for attendance.
The HGAR delegation was led by HGAR President D’Anzica and was supported by HGAR Interim CEO and Chief Operating Officer Jana Currier; HGAR Legislation Committee co-chairs Leah Caro and Matthew Engel, along with Director of Government Affairs Alexander Roithmayr; Regional Director for Government Affairs Eliezer Rodriguez, Esq. and other support staff.
HGAR President D’Anzica after the more than an hour-long session with state lawmakers had concluded, told the HGAR membership, “This is probably the largest delegation of any association in New York State. A big round of applause to all of you.”
He then singled out the members of the Young Professionals Network and the Leadership Accelerator Program in attendance and then added, “I want to thank Jana, Alex and Eli for the hard work that they did, not to mention Matt and Leah for all the hard work they have done on the Legislative Committee. We have made this one of our key goals this year to get as many people to come to Lobby Day as possible. This is what we are—we are a trade association. We work on behalf of our members and on behalf of our industry.”
HGAR met with many state lawmakers on Tuesday and discussed a wide array of issues, including the state’s housing shortage, housing affordability and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “New York Housing Compact” reform plan that called for the development of 800,000 new units of housing statewide in the next decade to name just a few.
Later that evening after HGAR members left the State Capital for home, Gov. Hochul and state legislative leaders hammered out an agreement on the $229-billion 2024 state budget. Gov. Hochul’s housing reform plan will be debated in this legislative session after the controversial proposal was shelved during budget negotiations.
Some of the highlights of the budget agreement include:
• $391 million for Emergency Rental Assistance Program Funding for NYCHA and Section 8 programs.
• Massive funding for the MTA from a variety of sources to help stabilize the agency’s operations that were impacted by COVID-19.
• Significant investments to promote energy affordability, reduce emissions, and clean air and water.
• Raising the Minimum Wage to $16 in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and $15 elsewhere in the state, which will increase by $0.50 for two years and index to inflation after 2026.
In Albany, a host of state lawmakers appeared at the Hearing Room to meet face-to-face with HGAR members. Those lawmakers included: State Senators James Skoufis (42nd District); Bill Weber (38th District); Luis Sepulveda (32d District); Nathalia Fernandez (34th District) and Jamaal T. Bailey (36th District). Assembly members who attended the session were: Kenny Burgos (85th District); Yudelka Tapia (86th District); Amy Paulin (88th District); Nader Sayegh (90th District); Steven Otis (91st District); Maryjane Shimsky (92nd District); Chris Burdick (93rd District); Matt Sleter (94th District); Kenneth Zebrowski (96th District and Aileen Gunther (100th District).
Assemblywoman Inez Dickens (70th Distrtict) was represented by Counsel Ricardo A. Aguiree, Esq. and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (77th District) was represented by Legislative Director Rachel Morris at the Hearing Room meeting. HGAR representatives met with Assemblymen Al Taylor (71st District) and Alex Bores (73rd District) outside of the Hearing Room session.
Along with NYSAR representatives, HGAR officials also met with State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and with Miguelina Camila, Chief Legal Counsel for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
HGAR Acting CEO and Chief Operating Officer Currier related that HGAR has received “terrific feedback” from association members who attended the event, as well as state lawmakers that met with the HGAR delegation.
Richard McLymont, a real estate agent with Keller Williams NY Realty in White Plains, was a first-time participant in Lobby Day and told Real Estate In-Depth he plans to return to the State Capital in 2024 to meet with state lawmakers. McLymont is also a participant in this year’s HGAR Leadership Accelerator Program.
“Overall, it was a very humbling experience,” McLymont said. “it was humbling for me just because the magnitude of the decisions that are made by legislators can be profound, but when you are there to give a voice to what you are fighting for it kind of reaffirms the work you are trying to do in the business and to support the real estate industry.”
Among some of the chief legislative priorities of HGAR at Lobby Day included:
• Support of the bill (S. 412-Thomas) that would make technical amendments to current state law prohibiting telemarketing activities during declared state of emergencies.
• Strongly opposed any legislation that would increase state or local mortgage taxes or real estate transfer taxes.
• Opposed A.1814-Glick) that would impose a Pied-a Terre Tax on New York City homeowners. HGAR states the bill, if passed, would drive down property values, decrease the city’s tax base, and jeopardize thousands of jobs in hospitality, construction and real estate services.
• Strongly opposed Good Cause Eviction (S.305-Salazar/A. 4454-Hunter) that would impose a statewide rent regulation of all rental housing, except for owner-occupied buildings with less than four units. The bill would effectively limit a property owner’s operating income by establishing a rebuttable presumption against evictions for nonpayment where the annual rent increase is more than 3% or 1.5 times the CPI.
• Supported a package of bills that combat discrimination in cooperative housing. A. 1623-Perry requires co-op boards to adopt a standardized application process, and establishes a clear timeline for board action on such applications. These bills operate to remove arbitrary procedural barriers historically used to discriminate against prospective buyers of protected classes, and to focus board deliberations on an applicant’s substantive qualifications when considering a sale. S.1449-A-Sanders / A.6510-Walker requires a board to provide a prospective purchaser with a written statement of reasons for withholding consent to a sale, within thirty days of such denial. Together, these bills introduce predictability and fairness into a process that has long been manipulated to further discriminatory housing practices and segregate communities, according to HGAR.
• Opposed a bill S.562-A-Kavanaugh, A.920-A-Gallagher as currently drafted due to concerns with the unintended consequences it would have on rural households and low- and middle-income New Yorkers. The bill would direct the State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to prohibit the use of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, oil or propane in any newly constructed building under seven stories statewide by Jan. 1, 2024, and by July 1, 2027, in buildings seven stories or more—with limited exceptions.
• Supported S.6352-Comrie—the Local Regulated Housing Restoration Act—that is designed to add affordable rent-stabilized apartments to rental housing stock that are safe, lead free, energy efficient, and fully compliant with building codes. These apartments will be affordable for working families from the local communities where the apartments are located.
• HGAR strongly opposed all legislation that seeks to deprive real estate brokers and salespersons their hard-won status as independent contractors. A.4781(Mamdani) S.2783 (Brisport) seeks to address workers in the gig economy but contains imprecise and overly broad language that has the potential to upend the longstanding legal and logical employment relationship between real estate brokers and salespersons that is rooted in licensure requirements and industry-accepted professional standards. This legislation would redefine and reclassify this employment relationship in conflict with existing exemptions currently in law and relied upon by industry professionals. Unless and until this legislation is amended to exempt the broker-salesperson relationship, HGAR strongly opposes this bill’s passage.
Following Lobby Day advocacy efforts, legislation that would create a New York State first-time homebuyer savings account program (A.6933/S.6574) was introduced in the Assembly by Assemblymember Phil Ramos (Suffolk County). The bill would allow individuals and families to take a state income tax deduction on annual deposits into the account (up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for couples). Senator Jeremy Cooney (Rochester) carries the bill in the Senate. Support for this bill was among NYSAR’s and HGAR’s legislative priorities during Lobby Day.