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Southeastern Legislative Summit: Chapter Leaders Prepare for Policy Debate

With votes counted and the election over, NAIOP Corporate hosted the 2016 Southeastern Legislative Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, last week to prepare chapters within the region for the legislative debate next year on policies impacting commercial real estate. Whether for president of the United States, state senator or county council, election outcomes have consequences that will affect the direction of public policy. This year’s election is no different.

Because of this, it is important for NAIOP and its members to stay informed on current and proposed policy initiatives impacting commercial real estate, to hear lessons learned from other chapters, and to strengthen their advocacy efforts in order to influence legislative outcomes at every level of government. Governments across the Southeast will debate proposed policies and other initiatives in 2017 that will impact commercial real estate, and NAIOP and its chapters must ensure the voice of the industry is heard throughout the policymaking process. Very often, policies that gain traction in one city or state can quickly carry over to another. Keeping NAIOP members up to date on issues that they could be facing was an important goal of the 2016 Southeastern Legislative Summit.

The legislative summit provided chapter representatives with an important opportunity to engage and participate in open roundtable discussions on issues of importance to commercial real estate within the Southeast. The regional issues discussed during the summit included:

  • Commercial real estate and the affordable housing debate:
    • Linkage/impact fee.
    • Inclusionary zoning.
  • Local energy efficiency benchmarking mandates for commercial real estate.
  • The influence of water on economic development and commercial real estate.
  • Economic development in the South from a public policy perspective:
    • State competitiveness.
    • Tax incentives and abatements.
    • Qualified workforce development.
  • The impact of the 2016 election on commercial real estate:
    • Tax reform (carried interest and 1031 Exchange Program).
    • Transportation funding.
    • Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation.

Most attendees remained cautiously optimistic about the legislative climate, particularly at the state level, following the election. However, it was noted that many local governments were increasingly, and often with little forewarning, introducing ordinances directly impacting commercial real estate and development. Commercial real estate may not vote, but it is often a target for additional revenues and unfunded requirements, such as increased impact fees, unfunded energy benchmarking mandates or placement of a greater tax burden on commercial property.

Because of this, it is important for NAIOP chapters and its members to remain actively engaged, build relationships, and not assume that the elected official or their staff understand NAIOP’s perspective or concern. As Thomas J. Bisacquino, NAIOP’s President and CEO, often remarks, “If you are not at the table, you are on the legislative menu.”

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