The Real Estate Roundtable’s 2020 State of the Industry (SOI) Meeting this week in Washington featured discussions with policymakers and industry leaders on affordable housing solutions, economic development and job creation, infrastructure, tax regulations affecting CRE and other national issues.
- Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Chairman and CEO, Ventas, Inc.) launched the meeting on Tuesday by announcing the release of the organization’s 2020 Policy Agenda, which was developed with input from a recent membership survey, discussions held throughout the year among policy advisory committees, and consultation with 18 national real estate trade association partners and The Roundtable’s Board of Directors.
- Before unveiling The Roundtable’s agenda for tax, capital & credit, energy & climate, homeland security, and infrastructure & housing issues – Cafaro reviewed the organization’s 2019 policy accomplishments, including a seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. She also noted the organization’s ongoing, successful efforts to attract greater diversity to its membership, along with its new, mobile-friendly website.
Policy Issues & Featured Speakers
The SOI meeting included the following speakers:
- Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria addressed his agency’s oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – who own or guarantee $5.6 trillion in single and multifamily mortgages. Dr. Calabria spoke about the conservatorships the GSEs have operated under since 2008 and the need to responsibly privatize them while ensuring sufficient private capital is in place to protect taxpayers, along with access to affordable rental housing.
- House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) focused on affordable housing in the discussion with Dr. Calabria, moderated by Willy Walker, chairman & CEO, Walker & Dunlop. Rep. McHenry has served as Chief Deputy Whip to build consensus for the House Republican Conference’s agenda – including passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year. He spoke about his committee’s recent hearings on challenges for effective affordable housing policies, which include a decrease in available housing supply due in part to counterproductive regulations and zoning laws at local and state levels.
- House Ways and Means Committee Member Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) is the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress and a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee that originates tax legislation affecting the industry. Rep. Murphy spoke of her efforts to build consensus among her House colleagues by co-chairing the Blue Dog Coalition, a bloc of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint – and her efforts to build a solutions-oriented policy approach that can bridge the gap between left and right.
- Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D), recently re-elected, discussed her state-wide successes in attracting increased economic investment, decreasing unemployment and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges of homelessness and affordable housing. Gov. Raimondo spoke of her recent proposal to build more affordable housing using a housing bond and dedicated funding stream, along with her support for the federal Opportunity Zones program. She also discussed her executive order committing Rhode Island to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of the decade.
- Mike Allen, co-founder and Executive Editor of Axios – a three-year old digital media company delivering news and insights on policy, politics, business and tech – discussed the confluence of this election cycle, social media and the “War for Attention” to gain consumer, and voter, brand loyalty.
- George Will, syndicated columnist and political commentator, concluded the meeting’s evening event with comments on how historical, economic and societal trends directly influence the current political environment, providing a bellwether for what can be anticipated in future elections.
Roundtable Policy Committees
SOI also included meetings of The Roundtable’s policy advisory committees, which analyzed policy issues in detail with high-level congressional and agency staff.
- Research and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC):
During this joint meeting, two panels of industry experts addressed investment and market insights into the current real estate market cycle, along with the state of real estate capital and debt markets.
- Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC):
The chief tax counsels from the Senate Committee on Finance discussed what lay ahead for tax legislative priorities affecting commercial real estate. The discussion, moderated by Russ Sullivan (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck), included Mark Warren, chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Republicans and Tiffany Smith, chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Democrats. Additional discussions delved into recent and future real estate-related tax regulations with Treasury Department Attorney-Advisor Bryan Rimmke, as well as new Opportunity Zone rules, proposed LIBOR tax regulations, and the tax challenges confronting foreign investment in US real estate.
- Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC):
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency speakers provided an update on the ENERGY STAR for Tenants program. Additionally, U.S. Energy Information Administration speakers provided SPAC information on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and its impact on ENERGY STAR scores. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) discussed its efforts to create a carbon pricing market — an emerging issue as the real estate sector confronts rising obligations to draw clean power from a de-carbonized electric grid.
- Homeland Security Task Force meeting (HSTF) and Risk Management Working Group (RMWG):
The joint meeting attendees heard briefings by government officials on challenges presented by homelessness – and the risk picture posed by the coronavirus to the United States. The Task Force was also briefed on cyber threats and the state of insurance markets after the recent seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), enacted one year before its scheduled expiration date – a major policy accomplishment of The Roundtable in 2019.
Next on The Roundtable’s FY2020 meeting calendar is the Spring Meeting on March 31 in Washington, DC. This meeting is restricted to Roundtable-level members only.
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