Weekly Update April 3, 2014

The Session is Winding Down

As we continue to move toward the conclusion of this year’s legislative session, there are several bills that we continue to monitor and lobby.  There continues to be a big push for multiple bills that benefit Iowa veterans through the Governor’s Home Base Iowa plan.  Here are the items of interest as of today: 

HSB 646            Homestead property tax credit; passed sub, support 3/7

HF 2094            Statute of repose/HSB 504; 2/27 passed House; sub 3/5

HF 2108            Property tax assessment/HSB 508; 2/12 passed House

HF 2129            Cap gains ex for sale of stock, sm bus/HSB 502; 3/4 passed sub; support 3/7

HF 2230            Vehicle permits/const permits on ag land/HF 2059;
2/25 passed House; 3/26 passed Senate           

HF 2317            Veterans homeownership fund/HSB 617; support 2/26

HF 2321            Commercial property tax

HF 2344            Drainage/levee districts/HF 460   3/31 sent to Gov

HF 2408            Excavator notification requirements/HSB 518; 3/26 signed by Gov; against 2/26

HF 2411            St/local govt powers/eminent domain/HF 289

HF 2452            First time homebuyer tax credit/HF 2353/HSB 638; 3/26 passed House

HF 2453            Historic preservation tax credit/HF 2415/HSB 624; 3/26 passed House;
 SSB 3142 and SF 2281        

HF 2448            Econ dvlp/jobs prgm/housing tax incentives; 3/26 passed House
HSB 542/HF 2305

SSB 3205          Homebuyer sav acct/HSB 638/HF 2353/HF 2452   3/18 sub

SSB 3214          Wages paid by debit card; 4/3 sub

SSB 3215           Approps for rebuild IA infrastructure fund

SF 366              Radon testing/mitigation in schools/SF 49; passed Senate 2013; against 2013;                               
3/18 passed House with amend: S-5084; back to Senate for floor vote      

SF 431              Solar income tax credit; passed Senate 2013

SF 2017            Tax exemption wetlands

SF 2034            Tornado resistance infrast prgm/HF 2100

SF 2085            Real property enhancement/HF 2057

SF 2091            co-ownership/SSB 3082  3/31 sent to Gov

SF 2191            financing work drainage districts/SF 2055; 3/26 signed by Gov

SF 2242            Vets home ownership assistance/SSB 3178; 3/3 passed Senate; support 3/7

SF 2256            Redevelopment tax credits/SSB 3050

SF 2265            Vehicle regist/levee/SSB 3140/HSB 605/HF 2273

SF 2273            Trustees of ag land in dranage districts/SSB 3172; 3/31 sent to Gov

SF 2317            Job training/apprenticeship prgms

SF 2335            Business tax credit/corp income tax

SF 2339           Redevelopment tax credits/SSB 3050/SF 2256; 3/26 passed Senate;
HSB/HF 2415/HF 2453; 4/1 passed House                       

SF 2340            Solar income tax credit/SSB 3201; 3/27 passed Senate

SF 2343            Renewable energy tax credit/SF 2032; 3/27 passed Senate


We had a fantastic meeting with Congressman Dave Loebsack (second from left) at the Quad Cities Builders and Remodelers Association last Friday.  Representative Loebsack (D) is in his fourth term with Iowa District 2, which is Southeastern Iowa.  He was very supportive of our issues.  It was one of our meetings for Bringing Housing Home.

Bringing Housing Home

We’re still in the midst of the Bringing Housing Home campaign.  Here is the schedule for upcoming meetings and a copy of the PDF of the brochure that we’re handing out.

The schedule will also include:

Senator Grassley – his Des Moines office, Friday, April 4 – 11 a.m.

Congressman Braley – Cedar Rapids HBA, April 17 – 3:00 p.m.

Please email Jay Iverson if you’d like to participate in the remaining meetings.

Member Rebate Program on Facebook

Our Member Rebate Program is on Facebook – you can click here to check it out. Over 70% of our members had rebates that more than paid for their annual HBA dues. It’s super easy to do – HBAI has some members who are rebated $5-8k annually, and they’re not huge builders either. 

Fax machine – FREE

We gave up our dedicated fax line when we moved into our new office space. We have a super nice unit with extra toner. It’s been on Craigslist and in this newsletter – no one has been rushing in to buy it, so it’s now FREE to a member or a charitable organization. That free price may even include delivery. Email Jay Iverson if you want it. 

Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference Report

The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference met last Thursday to review and revise state revenue estimates for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.  The meeting produced a unique result – no change.  General Fund revenue for FY 2014 is projected to by $6.6822 billion and for FY 2015 the figure remains at $6.9832 billion.

The group did revise the gaming revenue projections down for both FY 14 and FY 15.  They agreed that gaming receipts would be $3.6 million less in both years.  This will result in a $7.2 million reduction of available Rebuild Iowa and Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) dollars for FY 2015.

Millennials and Changing the World

It’s not too hard to figure out future issues with the Millennial generation, all of the entitlements and related work issues. They will have a dramatic impact on our future though. Here is a report that came out of Oregon, which would normally be enough said right there, but it still contains info that is quite interesting. The report looks very professional and is the result of qualitative research from Quinn Thomas Public Affairs. They say that “it provides important context about how this generation of emerging leaders will impact the economic, political and social institutions of our region.” 


Clean Water Act: Proposed Rule is More Federal Overreach

NAHB is warning that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal released last week to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act will increase the cost of new homes without a corresponding benefit to America’s lakes, rivers and other water bodies. Staff is seeking members’ assistance as it prepares comments on how the proposed rule may also affect low-impact development practices such as rain gardens and swales, which may be subject to more intense federal scrutiny.

While NAHB has long asked for the rulemaking, EPA’s proposal goes too far. “EPA was told to make changes to the rule so that everyone understands exactly when a builder needs a federal wetlands permit before turning the first shovel of dirt,” said Kevin Kelly, NAHB chairman and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Instead, EPA has added just about everything into its jurisdiction by expanding the definition of a ‘tributary’ – even ditches and manmade canals, or any other feature that a regulator determines to have a bed, bank and high-water mark. It’s a waste of taxpayer resources to treat a rainwater ditch with the same scrutiny as we would the Delaware Bay.” 

HBAI Executive Director Jay Iverson and Greater Des Moines HBA Executive Director Creighton Cox met with Iowa Congressional District 3 candidate Robert Cramer  (on left) last week.  It was an informal meeting and Mr. Cramer is very supportive of our issues.

Weekly Update: March 27, 2014

Ames Iowa HBA Meeting

The Ames HBA membership meeting last night featured HBAI Legislative Chair and Past President Glenn Siders (Iowa City).  Mr. Siders discussed the legislative session, key regulatory updates, and other initiatives that we have been working on.  It was an excellent meeting.

Legislative Update – Winding Down Early

It’s been a really slow week – the legislative leadership could easily wrap up the session in the very near future. There are political maneuverings that could extend it, or at the very least make it last until per diems are used up. Here is the latest culled list of the bills that we are currently monitoring or working on:

HSB 646      Homestead property tax credit; passed subcommittee; Support 3/7

HF 219        Eminent Domain; passed house

HF 2094      Statute of repose/HSB 504; 2/27 passed House

HF 2108      Property tax assessment/HSB 508; 2/12 passed House                         

HF 2129      Cap gains ex for sale of stock, sm bus/HSB 502; Support 3/7                                  

HF 2230      Vehicle permits/construction permits on ag land/HF 2059; 2/25 passed House

HF 2305      Economic development programs/HSB 542/SSB 3129; 2/18 passed com

HF 2317      Veterans homeownership fund/HSB 617; 2/18 passed com; support 2/26

HF 2321      Commercial property tax 

HF 2344      Drainage/levee districts/HF 460; 2/25 passed House 

HF 2353      Creation of homebuyer savings acct/HSB 638; Support 3/7 

HF 2375      Land use restrictions/HSB 573/SSB 3115        2/19 passed com

HF 2411      State/local government powers/eminent domain/HF 289; 2/25 on calendar

HF 2412      School radon testing/mitigation grant program

HF 2414      Motor fuel tax

SSB 3201     Solar income tax credit                                 

SF 431         Solar income tax credit; passed Senate 2013

SF 2017       Tax exemption wetlands; research more

SF 2034       Tornado resistance infrastructure program/HF 2100

SF 2085       Real property enhancement/HF 2057

SF 2091       Co-ownership/SSB 3082; 2/24 passed Senate

SF 2242       Vets home ownership assistance/SSB 3178; Support 3/7

SF 2248       Rural and urban woodlands & trees/SF 2159   2/20 passed com

SF 2256       Redevelopment tax credits/SSB 3050            

SF 2265       Vehicle registration/levee/SSB 3140/HSB 605/HF 2273; 2/21 passed com

SF 2273       Trustees of ag land in drainage districts/SSB 3172; 2/27 passed Senate

SF 2312       Regulating multi-housing/HSB 583; 2/27 passed Senate 

SF 2317       Job training/apprenticeship programs


Iverson Testifies at 2014 NEC Code Hearing

The stakeholder input meeting with the Iowa Electrical Examining Board last Tuesday was fairly low key. HBAI Executive Officer Jay Iverson submitted the following proposed changes and deletions before the group potentially adopts the 2014 NEC:

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter
Arc Fault Receptacles
Tamper Resistant Receptacles

He also conveyed that we would like to retain the current GFI exemptions granted the last time and everyone seemed to concur on that.

So what changed in 2014 National Electric Code?

Here is a summary of changes to the 2014 NEC that will impact our industry:

  • Ground Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) Protection for Personnel
  • 210.8(A)(9) Bathtubs and Shower Stalls and (10) Laundry Areas:  The NEC now requires that all receptacles within 6 feet of a shower stall or bathtub must have ground fault protection by the use of either a GFCI breaker or GFCI receptacle. In addition, the section now requires all 125-volt single phased 15- and 20-ampere receptacles in laundry rooms to be GFCI protected.
  • 210.8 (D) Dishwasher: The NEC will now require all outlets supplying power to dishwashers installed in kitchens to be GFCI protected. 
  • Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (AFCI)
  • Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters: Continuing with the committee’s goal of whole house circuit protection, the technical committee has expanded the use of AFCI in dwellings and has now included a new section to address dormitories.
  • 210.12(A) Dwelling Units:  Kitchens and laundry areas are now required to have all circuits protected by an AFCI device. Protection against arcing can now be accomplished by use of one of the six alternative methods listed in Section 210.12(A)(1) through (6), which include the use of breaker and receptacles utilizing AFCI protection with specific conditions for each option.
  • 210.12(B) Branch Circuit Extensions or Modifications: Under the requirement for branch circuit extensions or modifications, a new exception has been added to the NEC, which would allow the extension of an existing conductor to be added or modified up to 6 feet in length without requiring AFCI protection on the circuit. If any additional outlets or devices are installed, the circuit would then have to be protected by an AFCI device.
  • 210.12(C) Dormitories: All dormitories shall now require AFCI protection on all circuits supplying outlets in hallways, sleeping units, living rooms, closets and other similar rooms.
  • 210.17 Electrical Vehicle Branch Circuits: New to the NEC is a requirement that any electrical branch circuit serving an outlet or outlets for the purpose of vehicle charging shall be supplied by a dedicated branch circuit.
  • 220.12 Lighting Load: In an effort to work concurrently with energy efficiency codes, the NEC will allow for the lighting load to either be designed per table 220.12 or calculated for the load intended, provided the building is equipped with a monitoring system that will alert the building occupant when the loads are exceeded, and provided that the demand factors specified in 220.42 are not applied.

Bringing Housing Home

We’re still in the midst of the Bringing Housing Home campaign.  Here is the schedule for upcoming meetings and a copy of the PDF of the brochure that we’re handing out.

The schedule will also include:

  • Representative Loebsack – Quad Cities Builders and Remodelers, March 28
  • Senator Grassley – his Des Moines office, Friday, April 4 – 11 a.m.
  • Congressman Braley – Cedar Rapids HBA, April 17 – 3:00 p.m.

Please email Jay Iverson if you’d like to participate in the remaining meetings.

EPA Drops Plans for New Post-Construction Stormwater Rule

In a major win for the home building industry – and common sense – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will jettison plans for a National Post Construction Stormwater Rulemaking, plans that NAHB repeatedly told the agency would have added onerous, costly and in many cases impractical steps to the residential development process. “It’s been a five-year bureaucratic battle, but we won. That’s a victory for our buyers as well,” said Kevin Kelly, NAHB chairman and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

Since EPA first announced its plans in December 2009, NAHB staff and members have submitted comments and letters, testified at hearings, served on small-business panels and met with appointed and elected officials to explain why EPA’s proposal was an incursion into land-use regulations and plain wouldn’t work. In essence, a rule would have required all builders to retain a certain volume of stormwater onsite by using low-impact development techniques such as rain gardens, pervious pavements and other methods that often add money especially on sites with soil types that don’t easily infiltrate.

Some of the technologies EPA was considering would be almost impossible in many urban areas, making smart-growth and redevelopment projects less likely to succeed. They are also expensive: Builders who employ these practices have estimated they add at least 10-15% to the cost of a developed lot, depending on location and soil type. 

EPA was also considering expensive retrofit requirements that would saddle municipalities and taxpayers with huge additional bills during a time when many cannot keep up with current infrastructure demands. “Green infrastructure systems are still a work in progress, and as technology progresses, we’ll discover solutions that work better and are less expensive,” Kelly said. “I’m glad that EPA has decided to concentrate on education programs rather than proposing this rule, and I am proud of the role we played to make that happen.”

NAHB is talking to EPA about assisting with its low-impact development education efforts, and such practices already are part of the voluntary ICC 700 National Green Building Standard.

Tidbit from Elliot F. Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Many of you subscribe to Elliot’s daily Graphs and Laughs, it’s really interesting and he does a great job covering many subjects.  Click on that link if you want to subscribe.  Here is one from yesterday:

While many fret that existing housing sales have recently been slumping, the angst is misplaced. Since early last year sales have declined 7%, but distressed sales as a percentage of all sales have fallen from 25% of sales to just 15%, a drop of 10 percentage points, more than the 7% drop in sales. Thus, the total volume of non-distressed sales is higher than it was a year ago. Relax.