Power Shift: BOMA Looks to the States

Nov. 4, 2004
Washington, D.C. – After months of partisan rancor and dead-lock on policy issues, members of Congress hit the campaign trail this summer, both for themselves and their respective political parties. While many in Washington turned their attention toward Election 2004, all eyes have shifted to the states, where – with little fanfare – real estate’s issues of concerns are becoming much more predominant.BOMA International’s state advocacy program is designed to assist its local associations in addressing legislative, regulatory, and code initiatives; create an information clearinghouse; and encourage the formation of state associations to effectively identify and impact state issues – before they become law. BOMA’s federated structure, which combines 108 local associations with BOMA International, is uniquely qualified to address state and local issues facing the commercial real estate industry. Likewise, in Canada, local and provincial associations take a strong stance on local legislative and regulatory initiatives, with some assistance and coordination from BOMA Canada.Here is a look at some of the state and local issues that are under debate this year:MoldTwenty-two states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin) considered mold legislation in 2004. Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas all convened task forces to study the issue and provide recommendations to their respective legislatures. The issue will also go before the electorate in Colorado, where Amendment 34 aims to roll back legislation adopted in 2003 that limits property owners’ rights to sue for damages against commercial and housing construction professionals, such as engineers or builders.The National Academy of Sciences released a mold report in May clarifying that there is no evidence that supports an association between mold and the wide range of health complaints that are attributed to it. It does provide evidence linking damp conditions in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms and other upper respiratory tract symptoms in healthy people. These findings strengthen BOMA International’s long-standing position on mold and the need for additional research to examine potential health effects of mold in indoor environments prior to any government efforts to enact regulations.International CodesForty-four states and over 750 local jurisdictions have adopted the International Codes. As other states and localities wrestle with the issue, local BOMA affiliates have become an integral part of the codes adoption process through their successful advocacy efforts. The International Code Council (ICC) recently honored BOMA International and its local affiliates with the ICC Affiliate of the Year Award for these efforts.TelecommunicationsThe North Carolina Utilities Commission is currently considering a “competitive premises access rule” that would bar developers from granting exclusive deals to their properties and prohibit commission-based relations between owner and provider. BOMA International and several other associations in the Real Access Alliance (RAA) have joined forces to fight this effort. RAA assembled a legal team, including a local North Carolina attorney, to spearhead the effort on the ground, as well as legal counsel in Washington, D.C., with a strong history of experience in forced access issues. Through its legal work, RAA was able to reopen the Commission’s docket, which had originally closed April 23, allowing real estate advocates to submit comments.This is the second forced access attempt that BOMA International has been involved in this year. In May, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed legislation that would have mandated forced access for telecomm services in both residential and commercial buildings. Sponsored by Representative Peter Kilmartin, House Bill 8038 originated out of the concerns of Picerne Cable in trying to compete with statewide giant Cox Cable. BOMA International, in conjunction with the RAA, was able to hold the legislation up in the Senate with the support of friendly legislators. Telecommunications legislation and regulation, at the state and local levels, must preserve the viability of a free and effective marketplace that respects private property. Forced building entry privileges for telecommunications service providers are unnecessary, unmanageable, and unconstitutional. BOMA International is strongly opposed to any such initiatives.Broker LiensCurrently, 19 states have adopted broker lien laws that allow a commercial broker to place a lien on property for an unpaid commission. These laws vary from state to state and contain few similarities. For example, not all states require a written brokerage agreement, definitions of commercial properties differ, and transactions may or may not include leases along with sales. Florida Governor Jeb Bush ® vetoed House Bill 461, the Commercial Real Estate Lien Act, in June. Legislation also failed to pass in Kansas. BOMA International opposes legislation that would provide real estate brokers the right to file a lien against real property for unpaid real estate commissions.These issues and more will be discussed in detail at BOMA International’s National Issues Conference, which will be held Jan. 26-27, 2005, in Washington, D.C. See you there!For more information on these issues, contact BOMA International at (202) 408-2662 or visit (www.boma.org).

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