Leaders of NAIOP’s local chapters will be visiting with their elected officials next week to advocate for the interests of the commercial real estate industry, holding hundreds of meetings with U.S. senators, congressmen, and important members of the their staff. It’s an annual event and an important part of NAIOP’s Chapter Leadership and Legislative Retreat (CL&LR), which is designed to help NAIOP leaders learn how to strengthen and expand their chapters, as well as educate our membership on our legislative priorities and build relationships with policy makers. At CL&LR, local NAIOP executive directors, chapter presidents, government affairs and other committee chairs will attend various sessions, listen to political analysts, and participate in numerous networking events.
Our members’ visits with their elected officials are an integral part of our success on Capitol Hill. Last year, NAIOP’s priorities on the tax front included making permanent 15-year leasehold improvement depreciation, extending provisions for bonus depreciation, the energy-efficient commercial building deduction and other temporary tax provisions, all while protecting Section 1031 like-kind exchanges and capital gains treatment for real estate carried interest compensation. Members advocated for a long-term reauthorization of transportation programs. NAIOP members also argued for language to be included in energy bills ensuring that stricter energy efficiency building codes reflect the economic and technical realities faced by developers. We had a remarkably successful year, achieving all of these goals – thanks in no small part to the participation of so many NAIOP members who went to bat for their industry at CL&LR.
While NAIOP’s Day on Capitol Hill is the culmination of the legislative portion of CL&LR, other activities and sessions with a political or legislative focus include:
- Bonus Session for Chapter Leaders: Members can hear from current public affairs chairs and executive directors on how to develop and execute successful advocacy strategies at the federal, state and local level.
- The 2016 Elections and the Political Landscape for State Legislatures: Speakers from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican State Legislative Committee will present their views of how this election will unfold for the various states, and the potential impacts on the commercial real estate industry.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Lawsuit Reform: Panelists will discuss the growing problem of lawsuit abuse against commercial real estate property owners, with civil lawsuits filed under the ADA on minor infractions intended to force settlements and collection of fees for plaintiffs’ attorneys.
- Political Keynote Luncheon Speaker: Amy Walter, National Editor of The Cook Political Report, will provide CL&LR attendees with an in-depth analysis of the 2016 elections and her thoughts on the importance of the election results to the legislative landscape.
- Preparation for Hill Visits: NAIOP members meeting with their elected officials will drill down on our 2016 federal priorities of tax reform and energy efficiency legislation, and get a chance to address any questions they might have in advance of their Hill meetings.
On Wednesday, February 10, NAIOP members will go to Capitol Hill to educate their Senators and Congressman on the economic contribution of the commercial real estate industry to our country and to their states, and to convey why attentions to our issues is so important. A room reserved by NAIOP for its members at the Capitol Hill Club will serve as the base of operations, and a convenient place for those with meetings to gather and have lunch with their NAIOP colleagues from around the U.S.
This year, we will focus on the upcoming debate over tax reform, the prospects of which have been given a boost with the passage of major tax legislation last December – the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015” (the “PATH Act”). While a comprehensive tax bill will not be enacted prior to the presidential election, Republicans and Democrats may very well narrow down the issues and chart the future path they plan to take under a number of different election-day scenarios, and our impact at this critical juncture will be felt. Energy legislation will also move forward early in 2016, and our voice will be critical in determining whether language important to our industry survives House and Senate negotiations on a final bill.
One thing we know for sure: If past practice holds true, NAIOP members will do a phenomenal job of advancing our agenda at CL&LR and helping to shape public policy in support of our industry.
Aquiles Suarez is Vice President for Government Affairs at NAIOP.