Policy Issues

The relationship between real estate and infrastructure is synergistic. Roads, bridges and mass transit enhance the values of nearby properties, which in turn generate greater tax revenues to fund even more infrastructure assets. Highways, public transportation, water delivery, the power grid, and affordable housing are all essential networks for the well-being of America’s families, businesses, and communities. The productivity of our workforce depends on multi-modal transportation for mobility options, while economic mobility is hastened by safe and decent home environments.
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Infrastructure

  • Repeal FIRPTA

    Repeal the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA)

    Repeal the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) to unlock private capital to help finance infrastructure assets. FIRPTA imposes a discriminatory layer of capital gains tax on foreign investment, which does not apply to any other asset class. The Roundtable supports bipartisan FIRPTA repeal legislation (H.R. 2210) as a market-driven catalyst to finance improvements in our nation’s infrastructure.

  • Beneficial Depreciation Rules for Building Infrastructure

    Provide building owners with beneficial depreciation rules for energy efficiency investments and help address climate change.

    The Roundtable’s recommendation of 10-year cost recovery for a new tax code category of high performance energy efficiency equipment would spur retrofit innovations in commercial and multifamily building infrastructure. More detail is provided in the “Energy” section of this report. 

  • Streamline the Permitting Process

    Streamline the permitting process.

    A report by the nonprofit organization Common Good estimates that a six-year delay in starting construction on public projects costs the nation more than $3.7 trillion. Permit delays dampen private sector investment and add to the overall costs of infrastructure projects.

    Congress should codify approval streamlining procedures supported by both Republican and Democratic administrations. For example, Trump Administration executive measures to establish discipline should be legislative goals. These include a two-year goal to complete all environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects, with interim benchmarks; increased coordination between federal agencies at key points in the permitting process; and increased emphasis on project “pre-scoping” and “preliminary planning.”

  • "Pay at the Pump" Gas User Fee

    Responsibly increase the “Pay at the Pump” gas user fee.

    The biggest federal funding source for surface transportation is the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), capitalized by the “pay at the pump” gas user fee, which has not been raised since 1993. The fund is perpetually on the brink of insolvency and frequently bailed out by Congress. The Roundtable supports proposals from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups to sustain the HTF by increasing the federal fuel user fee by five cents a year for the next five years, and indexing it to inflation thereafter.

  • IRS limitations on private-activity bonds (PABs)

    Revising IRS “volume caps” and other limitations on private-activity bonds (PABs).

    Tax-exempt PABs are proven tools to mobilize public and private co-investment in infrastructure. The Roundtable supports broadening their availability by raising volume caps on the capacity of states to issues PABs, expanding the scope of projects eligible for PAB financing, and giving states flexibility to choose which kinds of projects are in most need of tax-exempt bond assistance. Pending bipartisan measures such as the Move America Act (H.R. 1508), the Public Buildings Renewal Act (H.R. 1251), and the BUILD Act (S. 352) seek to accomplish these goals.

  • Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) - TIFIA

    Encourage Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) by Improving the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program.

    Policies that encourage appropriate public-private partnerships (P3s) can unleash private equity investments, improve budget certainty, accelerate project delivery, and achieve greater efficiencies and innovations in project design and construction. 

    TIFIA’s low federal interest rates and flexible repayment terms have unlocked private investment capital to finance major projects across the country. However, the review process to obtain TIFIA support can be unduly arduous and lengthy. The Roundtable supports the RAPID Act (S.353), which would enhance the program’s efficiency while safeguarding taxpayers’ investments. 

  • Mass Transit Grant Programs

    Support mass transit grant programs.

    Infrastructure legislation must reflect demographic preferences for mass transit, as Millennials dominate the workforce and Baby Boomers retire from it. US-DOT Capital Improvement Grant (CIG) dollars must be maintained, with reasonable federal-state cost-share rules, to help finance mass transit programs of regional and national significance (like the New York-New Jersey Gateway program). 

Housing

  • Ease Duplicative Permitting Barriers and Promote “Yes In My Backyard”Land-Use Policies

    Burdensome and duplicative federal government reviews, necessary to obtain transportation and real estate development permits, must be minimized while still protecting environmental resources. The Roundtable supports a “one federal decision” framework that consolidates federal-level permitting into a more manageable, swifter process.

    Local land-use rules and community opposition are major obstacles that block high-density zoning designations usually needed to develop transit-oriented and multifamily housing projects. Federal policy makers can help overcome these impediments by taking a “Yes In My Backyard” – or “YIMBY” – approach when awarding incentives. Grants from federal agencies (like the Transportation and Housing Departments) to states and municipalities should be conditioned on the localities’ commitments to high density zoning, expanding by-right multifamily zones, and other techniques that create an atmosphere for approval of transit-oriented smart growth and affordable housing.

     

  • Ensure that banks receive “credit” under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for lending tomiddle class families.

    Existing CRA rules give banks credit for serving the lending and mortgage needs of low-income households and areas. The CRA should also be implemented to value lending services in middle class communities and sustainable mortgages provided to teachers, first responders, and other critical segments of America’s workforce earning between
    80% - 120 % of Area Median Income.

     

  • Support the production of manufactured housing.

    Nearly 22 million Americans live in manufactured housing, which opens the door to homeownership for many families who cannot afford a site-built home. Federal lawmakers should encourage localities that receive community and other place-based incentives to include manufactured housing as a critical component in comprehensive neighborhood development plans.

     

  • Free up under-utilized federal properties for affordable housing development.

    The General Services Administration should prioritize sales and leases of U.S. owned surplus real estate to private sector developers who can efficiently bring low-income, moderate-income, and workforce housing to market.

     

  • Consider the impact of student loan debt on federally backed mortgage qualification.

    The Federal Reserve reports that high student loan debt is a main culprit for lower homeownership rates over the past decade. Criteria to qualify for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) should be re-assessed
    for first-time home buyers paying down their student loans.

     

  • Short-term housing rentals must be regulated tocombat long-term housing shortages.

    A growing body of research shows that “sharing economy” platforms for short-term property rentals are reducing supplies for more permanent residential options. Traditional tax and regulatory structures governing hotel accommodations should also apply to absentee property owners running short-term rental businesses with multiple dwellings.

     

Other Resources

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Roundtable Weekly (Policy Newsletter & Archive)
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Annual Report (Roundtable Accomplishments & Activities)
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Policy Agenda (Roundtable Goals & Advocacy)