Happy Summer from your NAHB State Rep, Kathe Ostrom.
I returned from the NAHB Spring Board meeting in Washington DC feeling grateful for Minnesota’s weather. If you think MN is muggy… WOW it’s a sauna in DC!
There is lots of politicking within NAHB for the upcoming election of our Third Vice Chair including some mud throwing! But that’s politics as usual, right? Even at this level there is much scrutiny about when you can wear the ‘color’ shirt of the campaign, where you can stand to hand out campaign pins, and exactly how evenly spaced the campaign headquarters are from the hallway.
Serious business was discussed in all the meetings including subcommittee, committee, executive committee, and board level. Some things are pulled from the agenda, like the Michigan idea to try a $99 trial membership, which needs some more thought. The Dispute Resolution along with the Charter Agreement passed the board floor with no discussion or dissension. There were questions about the Charter Agreement. It was explained that nothing in that document was ‘new’. It was merely pulling all the pieces from the by-laws and putting them in to one document for easier reference. Also, the main questions about the Dispute Resolution were also answered. Our by-laws state there is a process for resolving disputes, but in reality there wasn’t anything in writing. This now puts a process in place that is referenced in the by-laws.
Scary stuff talked about:
Disturbing news from Oregon and Washington. Patent trolls. A company called “Savannah IP” is sending letters to builders telling them they are using or ‘may’ use their patented ‘ moisture removal process’. They are demanding $100-150/home. Their patent uses are deemed very common practices i.e. fans. It’s coercion to franchise. Patent owner intends to take it nationwide. NAHB thinks this patent should never have been given and is exploring legal remedies/legislation. It seems we cannot challenge validity of patent as this is consumer protection law. For more information see nahb.org/patentreform in the members-only portion of the website.
NAHB Remodelers Council reported that FORMALDEHYDE is the next heartburn. The EPA is in a rule making process similar to lead paint handling. It includes any products used in ‘major modification’. However there is no definition of major modification. NAHB Remodeler’s Council leadership is meeting with the EPA. More to come.
Good Stuff (Maybe):
Energy Codes Bill
The House is playing football with the energy codes bill and trying to pass it piecemeal. NAHB says NO. Legislation is being introduced to require a 10-year payback!! This will not be done by election.
Housing Finance Reform
Housing Finance reform was the main topic in many of the meetings I attended. The ultimate goal is to maintain the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. This is a contentious issue at the national capital as to whether things should remain ‘as is’, which is the pushback from the Realtors. Did you know 50% of the realtors association is from California? They are pushing hard to maintain the status quo. NAHB thinks the current conservatorship cannot be maintained with one unelected official in charge of our finance policy. What happens if the leadership in the White House changes? Or Legislature? This leaves too much uncertainty in the market and is holding back the housing recovery.
Well, that’s the fun-and-games update from me. Anyone wishing more information let me know. I can be reached at kathe(at)cnostrom(dot)com.