OMBA Mid-Session Report – April 2017
By Markee & Associates, Inc.
Each legislative session is different. In 2015, leadership set a list of priorities, many of which passed within the first few weeks. This year, priorities have changed and for the time being so too has the demeanor of the majority party. We are now into the last week of April, and the half-way point of the session is behind us. Bill passage has been relatively slow going, and the hyper- partisanship has been at a minimum (with the exception of some contentious bills being moved from committees ahead of the first bill deadline). Much of this is due to the necessity of bipartisanship in order to have a chance at addressing the challenges the state faces this biennium around transportation and possibly new revenue.
While the State of Oregon is seeing record revenue coming in, legislators involved in crafting the 17-19’ budget are looking at upwards of a billion and a half dollar shortfall. There has been some chatter around the building that the May revenue forecast could be up so it will be interesting to see just how that shapes up. Much of the budget deficit we are facing can be summed up in state employee roll up costs, healthcare expenses as federal funding allocated in the passage of the Affordable Care Act has ceased, and Measure 98 that the voters passed to create a requirement on additional education spending. In addition to the state’s budget difficulty, for several years now there has been serious discussion about the passage of a transportation package to improve traffic congestion in the metro area, make investments in deferred maintenance, and generally ensure the infrastructure of our state is on a solid footing moving forward. If either of the aforementioned priorities are to be accomplished it will require some sort of tax increase, and with it both Republican and Democrat votes.
The outlook on the rest of session is difficult to predict. As mentioned previously, the first committee deadline was on April 18th. Most likely, many of the bills moved ahead of the first deadline to other committees will sit with the potential to be worked on at any point until the last day of session. It will be interesting to see what happens in the months remaining in the current session. If talks around revenue or transportation break down, it is much more likely some of the more contentious bills will be moved. At this point it is anyone’s guess as to where the legislature is headed.
For our purposes, our team has been busy to see that OMBA has as good of a session as possible. We are tracking over 200 pieces of legislation this session that either directly or indirectly could affect the mortgage industry. A few of the bills of the most importance are:
HB 2004 if passed would disallow no-cause evictions on month-to-month leases statewide, with a couple of exceptions for landlords who wish to sell, re-purpose, renovate, or have themselves or a family member occupy the residence. It also lifts the pre-emption on cities and counties who wish to implement policies for rent stabilization, in order to reduce the amount that a landlord can raise the rent on current tenants. This was a highly controversial bill from the beginning and moved out of committee on a party line 5-4 vote. Ultimately the bill passed the House 31-27 vote with two Democrats crossing the aisle casting votes in opposition. We along with a coalition of people continue to work against this legislation. Moving forward, the bill will be considered by the Senate and is currently sitting in the Senate Human Services Committee. HB 2004 will continue to be a fight for the rest of session. At this point, there is more opposition in the senate than in the house thanks to the diligence of many who started working against the legislation way back during the interim.
HB 2007 and HB 2008 were two bills we were opposed to but they have been amended to alleviate most of our concerns. These two bills started out much worse but in their current forms will:
HB 2008 passed out of committee and is scheduled to be voted on by the house in the next several days. It will then move to the Senate where we will have to watch it closely to make sure there are no amendments adopted that we would find troubling.
SB 98 is another bill we have been working to fix for well over a year. The bill as introduced would have required businesses that service residential mortgages to get a separate license to be able to do so. We have seen this legislation for the past couple of sessions and had to kill the bill as DCBS was not interested in trying to alleviate our concerns. This year DCBS has been more accommodating as we discuss and work the bill. In the amended form, it still requires a license to service, but exempts state and federally chartered banks and credit unions. It also exempts anyone who is servicing loans they originated or purchased both the loan and the servicing rights. In addition, it would exempt up to an additional servicing of 5000 loans that one did not originate or purchase. I believe this exempts all of our members of the association from this legislation. SB 98 is currently in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means after being moved and amended out of the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation. The bill will likely be back up next week for a hearing.
Mortgage Interest Deduction Elimination
This is a conversation that began in the months leading up to the current session and is something we have faced in the past as well. There are several bills introduced on this topic this session. All have a little different variation to the issue. Some would limit the deduction based on income other look at second homes for elimination and everything in between. As the state continues for ways to increase our revenue, this issue will be in play all session. We, along with some others, are fighting back hard to make sure to retain our mortgage interest deduction.
As the session progresses we will continue to keep you updated on all these issues. Your legislative committee continues to be hard at work on your behalf reviewing legislation to make sure we have the correct talking points on these bills and many more.