BOMA’s annual National Issues Conference took place March 23–24 in Washington, D.C., giving members of BOMA an opportunity to speak with lawmakers about the commercial real estate industry and get the latest political forecasts and trends from Washington insiders. The conference allowed members of BOMA to meet with their representatives and senators to explain the critical role that commercial real estate plays in a thriving economy and to gain support for key issues affecting the industry.
Over the course of 120 meetings during the conference, BOMA members outlined their 2009 legislative agenda for members of Congress and their staff. In addition to the agenda outline, they also discussed commercial real estate’s stake in issues such as leasehold depreciation, capital gains taxes, carried interest taxes, energy and climate change policy, and “card check.”
Ron Brownstein, political director at Atlantic Media Company, delivered the keynote address, detailing how today’s political landscape was shaped and emphasizing the challenges that both parties face in the coming months. Brownstein stressed that while political power in Washington has shifted to the Democrats, their challenge is to continue to build broad, far-reaching support for their issues. “It is not easy to build broad coalitions,” says Brownstein. “But the magnitude of our challenges makes it important that those in power reach out and that we reach back.”
Representatives Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Steve Driehaus (D-OH) also emphasized that private-public partnership on the road to economic recovery. Rogers, a strong advocate against the Employee Free Choice Act (also known as “card check”) told BOMA members, “I’m so glad you’re here because no one knows better than you the impact of policies on your business. Congress needs to hear from you.” Driehaus also underscored the importance of reaching out to lawmakers, both locally and nationally.
But despite the challenges ahead, the outlook on the political forecast was positive. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) delivered a message of optimism and partnership at the conference.
“Because commercial real estate is such a big part of GDP, from the nine billion square feet you own and manage to all the jobs you create, you’ll lead, with our help, in the road to economic recovery,” says Hoyer, who also praised BOMA on its energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives. “Your Seven-Point Challenge commitment to reduce energy consumption in your buildings by 30 percent by 2012, your BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP) and Sustainable Operating Series (SOS), and your green lease program are all things that fit with what President Obama wants to achieve.”
For more information on BOMA’s policy positions or the National Issues Conference, visit www.boma.org.