LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Realtors Win Big Victories at the Federal Level

Philip Weiden | July 16, 2018

The U.S Department of Labor has finalized its long-awaited Association Health Plan rule to expand the definition of “employer” to include “working owners.” This change allows real estate professionals and other self-employed individuals to participate in association health plans. A key provision, forwarded for inclusion in the rule by NAR, will allow many Realtors who have access to coverage through a spouse to be eligible to choose an AHP option. The ruling is a major step forward for NAR’s long-standing advocacy efforts to expand AHP eligibility to independent contractors.

This ruling allows NAR to keep up its ongoing program to evaluate potential options for expanding Realtor access to health insurance coverage. It does not mean that a Realtor AHP will be available in the near term, but action continues to explore such options.

In another big win last week for Realtors, the Supreme Court announced its ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., a case on Internet sales tax fairness, in favor of NAR’s position that states should be able to require online sellers to collect/remit sales tax on purchases.

The court held that the South Dakota law, requiring some online retailers to charge and remit sales tax on purchases, may stand, and that the “physical presence” requirement is out of date in an e-commerce era. NAR has been advocating for this position for many years in Congress, and joined two amicus briefs with a coalition of other real estate groups in support of the South Dakota law being challenged. NAR is also a member of the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, which advocates for e-fairness and supports HR 2193— the Remote Transaction Parity Act.

Congress Votes on WOTUS Provisions: The House of Representatives voted 213-211 to approve the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (a.k.a. the Farm Bill), which included an amendment by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) permanently repealing the 2015 water rule. According to Rep. Banks, “WOTUS gave unelected bureaucrats at the EPA the power to broadly interpret what is a navigable waterway in a way where even a puddle could be subject to federal regulation. This rule has been harmful across all industries in our country and it is time we remove the regulation once and for all.”

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.