2015 GNIAR Government Affairs report

During the November 2014 GNIAR board meeting, the board of directors voted to approve five resolutions recommended by the GNIAR Government Affairs Committee.  Read GNIAR’s position statements below:

After meeting with the GNIAR Government Affairs Committee, Sen. Karen Tallian, Portage, crafted Senate Bill 112 that was designed to protect the general public and our members from rogue investors who attempt to sell their equitable interest in vacant properties (typically HUD, VA, FNMA foreclosed) to the general public and, if unsuccessful, typically fail to close the current transaction and then repeat the process at a lower purchase price the next time.  The Chairman of the Senate Commerce & Technology Committee did not allow the bill to be heard at the committee level effectively killing it for the session.  The IAR Government Affairs team continues to work with Sen Tallian to dispel any unintended consequences of the bill and is coordinating a effort with U.S. Sen Joe Donnelly to work with HUD on a solution that would reduce the ability of a rogue investor to take advantage of process.

In March, upon the recommendation of State Rep Hal Slager, Schererville, GNIAR COO Joe Wszolek was invited to speak about GNIAR’s support of the West Lake extension of the South Shore at an informational forum hosted by Purdue University Calumet and the One Region civic organization.  Also presenting were Dr Ben Ross, PhD, transit expert and author of “Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism” and Ross Capon, Rail Expert/Consultant and President Emeritus of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.  The event was well attended and included various state and local elected and appointed officials along with members of the general public and press.

In April, a GNIAR member exclusive informational forum about GNIAR’s support of the West Lake extension of the South Shore with guest Congressman Pete Visclosky was held at the GNIAR offices.  The event drew over 70 members who had an opportunity to hear why the Board of Directors has chosen to support the project and to engage Congressman Visclosky in a question and answer session upon completion of his presentation.

Two Indiana House Bills related to the South Shore extension (HB 1398, Authored by Rep Ed Soliday, Valparaiso and HB 1618, Authored by Rep Hal Slager, Schererville) have been moving through the 2015 legislative session and appear to be on their way to becoming law.

HB 1398 mandates the RDA focus entirely on improving region transportation and infrastructure (including the South Shore), or implementing the Marquette Plan for redevelopment of the Lake Michigan shoreline, instead of subsidizing corporate moves or other general economic development programs. The bill also requires the State Budget Committee review RDA projects and obligates Hammond, East Chicago, Gary, Lake and Porter counties to pay their annual $3.5 million shares of the RDA budget on time.

HB 1618 creates a program to provide state matching grants to the RDA for projects extending the South Shore.  It also requires the RDA to make certain commitments in order to receive a grant, requires a return on investment analysis and requires review of grant applications by the State Budget Committee and approval by the State Budget Agency. The bill also establishes the South Shore line transit oriented development fund, provides that the RDA administers the fund, provides that a city/town that contributes county economic development income tax revenue  to the South Shore extension may apply for a grant from the fund for a project that conforms with the plan to extend the Railway. 

In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the funding associated with HB 1618 to upgrade and expand the South Shore as part of the state budget.  As written, the State of Indiana would invest $6 million annually over the next 30 years to fund the construction of the West Lake extension.  If the bills and the budget are enacted into law, the state portion, locally generated RDA funds and Lake County Economic Development Income Tax funds would create the $17.5 million needed annually to match the federal government’s half of the extension project.

In addition to helping us with bills that impact us in northwest Indiana, the Indiana Association of REALTORS® (IAR) Government Affairs Team has been diligently using our collective voice to weigh in on legislation impacting our industry at the statewide level.  Click here to read the full IAR legislative report.

As the largest professional trade association in the United States, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) represents over one million residential REALTORS® and commercial practitioners involved in all facets of the industry as brokers, sales agents, property managers, appraisers and counselors. NAR advocates policy initiatives that promote and protect a fundamentally sound and dynamic U.S. real estate market fostering vibrant communities in which to live and work. Click here for the 2015, NAR  public policy initiatives