State Legislative Forum Updates: Energy Conservation, Health Care Reform and State Budget Shortfall Issues Impact Real Estate Managers in Every State

Article excerpt

During the 2011 Leadership and Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., this past April, IREM Members had the opportunity to discuss energy conservation, health care reform and state budget shortfall issues at the State Legislative Forum. These issues were selected because they were determined to impact real estate managers in nearly every state in some way.

Energy Conservation

IREM supports a free market system and believes it is the most appropriate means of attaining energy conservation and production goals. The nation should strive for greater energy self-sufficiency through further development of existing sources, decontrol of energy prices and the development of all new sources of domestic energy to reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies. Further, IREM supports the concept of positive incentives for conservation activities such as energy tax credits and an increased emphasis on energy-efficient technology by the nation's building industry.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IREM supports legislation that encourages voluntary energy-efficient improvements to buildings. These include tax credits for energy efficient commercial building property expenditures, tax deductions for energy management devices and tax credits for residential solar energy property expenditures. IREM strongly opposes mandatory national standards for multifamily and building energy conservation.

States are showing their support for voluntary energy conservation projects. At the end of 2010, New Jersey passed a resolution encouraging Congress to enact a "Renewable Energy Incentive Act" that would extend grants existing from the Stimulus Bill through 2012 for certain renewable energy projects in lieu of tax credits. In March, 2011, Wyoming formally authorized an energy improvement program that would provide financing and procedures for local governments to implement. Colorado has legislation that would include commercial buildings in the Colorado new energy improvement district created by the "New Energy jobs Creation Act of 2010."

During the February 2011 "State of the Union" address, President Obama announced a new potential federal program called the Better Buildings Initiative. If implemented, this would make commercial building space in the United States 20 percent more energy efficient through cost-effective upgrades by 2020. Through these upgrades, there may be a reduction in business owners' energy bills by roughly $40 billion. The proposed reform of taxes and incentives for commercial building retrofits would allow more financing opportunities for such commercial building projects. Because this is not a standing piece of legislation, it is important to review a draft of the bill before taking a stance on it.

Although not many currently exist, IREM encourages real estate professionals to be aware of state landlord/tenant codes that address energy efficiency as well as the ever-changing climate of energy conservation and programs relating to reducing energy consumption.

Health Care Reform

With the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Health Care Reform Act passing, there is still much tension regarding how to implement this new law. …