Issues ranged from drone policies for Real Estate agents and the FAA, Net Neutrality and why it’s so important for REALTORS and citizens, Patent Reform, RPAC fundraising changes, and community outreach programs available for local associations. Here is a brief on all topics:
The board adopted a policy statement in support of the safe and responsible use of the unmanned drone technology by members and to work in support of that as federal regulators write rules for the technology. In the meantime, NAR will continue efforts to educate members that use of the technology for commercial purposes without a permit remains prohibited.
Does the national debate about net neutrality have a potential impact on your business? For small business owners, you bet. This is the premise behind Net Neutrality is that Internet service providers should provide access to all website content regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. No one can imagine a place where the internet isn’t a free and open medium. Net Neutrality guarantees that all website content is treated equally, from small business to big business and where Internet Service Providers like Time Warner, Verizon, Comcast, ATT can’t play favorites because they disagree with the message being delivered, want to charge more money for faster delivery or want to squelch competition (unless to pay to play of course). NAR has lobbied for Net Neutrality and encouraged all REALTORS® to look into this issue and engage your legislators as well.
MLS Watchdogs keeping a close eye on Patent Reform:
The real estate industry is more and more dependent on the use of information technology and software products to market properties and manage their businesses. An increase in patent-infringement claims can drag unsuspecting real estate professionals into expensive and time-consuming litigation putting all REALTORS® at risk. Patent litigation reform could help to more narrowly tailor patents and reduce the scope of future infringement lawsuits. Current legislation doesn’t adequately address the issue of “patent trolls” and that additional legislation is necessary to reduce the costs of litigation caused by “non-practicing patent entities (NPEs).”
- The ever growing number of patent applications being submitted.
- Increasing complexity of the technology for which a patent is being requested.
- The growing number of cases of licensing demands being made by holders of obscure software patents.
- Growing number of patent lawsuits being filed.
RPAC fundraising revamp:
The board also approved broad changes to the association’s fundraising program for the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). The changes include replacing the long-standing fair-share contribution system with a needs-based funding goal. Starting in 2015, National RPAC Distribution Trustees will set a two-year election cycle goal for review and endorsement by the National RPAC Fundraising Trustees and then for submission to the NAR Leadership Team, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors. With the change, the 70-30 percentage split between the states and national association is eliminated with the exception of the Major Investor program.
The change also includes a single national RPAC fundraising goal for all associations, which can be reached with RPAC hard or soft dollar receipts. Hard dollar contributions go directly to candidates’ campaign efforts and are capped at $5,000 per election. Soft dollars go to efforts conducted separately from candidates’ campaigns and are unlimited.
The revamp also includes a program for soliciting funds from MLSs for use in independent expenditure (IE) campaigns, with half going to federal campaigns and half to state campaigns. IEs are election advocacy efforts that are required to be conducted independently of (i.e., not in coordination with) candidates’ campaigns.
NAR’s Community Outreach Programs
NAR’s Community Outreach Programs were reviewed and we’ve discovered many ways we can take advantage of grant money and national funding to bring our Berkshire Community some assistance in a variety of ways. Not everything is strictly real estate related… many of the initiatives recognize that making stronger, healthier neighborhoods helps the community and in turn, can increase property values and desirability of home ownership. Some programs include affordable workforce housing challenges, land use and development issues, community revitalization, transportation planning, beautification, community services and fair housing.
Sandy, 2015 Board President Steve Ray, and 2015 MLS President Mary Jane White recently returned from the NAR Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana which was held November 7-10, 2014. Here is a snapshot of Issues Updates covered at the conference.