Submitted by Industry Issues Chairman Errol Champion
Welcome to a new year and my first report to the members. For those who follow the legislative process, January 21, 2014 marks the start of the second session of the 28th legislature. The 90 day session is scheduled to end on April 20, 2014. Before commenting on the key issues for AAR this year, please allow me to recap several points that will be foremost in everyone mind.
Alaska is in an era of slumping revenues and we have a huge inventory of projects people would like to see funded. Discussions of these projects will create lengthy debates and consume a lot of every lawmakers time. Here are just a few of the major topics up for consideration:
- Public Employees Retirement Liability
- Anchorage Port Reconstruction
- The large diameter natural gas line
- Numerous hydro projects located around the State
- Knik Arm bridge crossing
- UAA and UAF capital projects
We are very likely to see strong differences of opinion between urban and rural members on these and many other issues.
Therefore our time with them in February must be precise and to the point on the issues we are addressing. We have scheduled our annual visit to Juneau on February 19-20, 2014. Our lobbyist suggested we make the visit to the Legislature in February rather than March. This makes a lot of sense and will give us the opportunity to discuss our issues much earlier in the session. The following are the issues the Industry issues Committee is addressing:
HB 32 – An Act providing for the issuance of one business license for multiple lines of business; and providing for reissuance of a business license to correct a mistake on the license.
- A letter of support for HB 32 was written and sent to Representative Mia Costello who is the primary sponsor of the legislation.
- This bill was heard in House Finance on Monday, February 17, 2014 and was held for another hearing in order to obtain more information about the fiscal impacts.
- AAR continues to support the passage of this legislation.
SB 58 – An act allowing an insurer to cancel an insurance policy if property becomes entirely abandoned and the abandonment increases to hazard insured against.
- This bill has been referred to Rules and will be ready to go to the Senate floor and will likely pass this session.
- After amendments and clarifications were made last year, the committee is on record neither in support of or opposing this bill.
- This bill was on the Senate calendar for final action on February 18, 2014.
HB 60 – An Act Adopting and relating to the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act.
- The committee is in support of this bill and it may get a committee hearing this session but it is not a priority for the sponsors, Rep Gruenberg and Munoz.
HB 187 – An act relating to professional and occupational licensing fees, including renewal fees, duplicate license fees, examination fees, temporary license fees, continuing education course certification fees, out-of-state permit fees, delinquency fees, application fees, penalty fees, and trainee license fees; and providing for an effective date.
- Information highlighting the clarification and count of investigations was made available by the DC&PL.
- This information is presented by bar graph in your packet.
- Wendy Chamberlain has requested the further breakdown on each category investigated, the cost of each investigation, what was being investigated, and the impact these investigations have on the Real Estate Commission operating budget.
- There was a hearing on the bill Monday, February 17, 2014 in House Finance.
It does two main things:
1. Levels the spikes in fees by leveling “peeks” over two or more licensing periods.
2. Moves funding (costs) of investigations from licensing fees to general fund.
- Fees will be lower than otherwise as that portion of the fee will not be charged to licensee.
- There will be no significant spikes in fees as we saw in the past.
- The general fund may not fully fund the investigations down stream so the costs may come back into the licensing fee.
- The department could be less responsive to the board in investigations, but the decision on findings of fact clearly remains with the board.
- Reduction in fees today is a savings that won’t be lost.
- The likelihood of over zealous investigations is low since they will depend on general fund appropriation.
- Even if only the leveling gets through, it still helps keep fees from spikes.
HB 252 – An act relating to mortgage lending, mortgage loan originators depository institutions, nonprofit organizations, and non-profit employees.
- Wendy Chamberlain advises us to watch this bill but stay away from taking an active position.
HB 282 – An Act relating to the rights and obligations of residential landlords and tenants; and relating to the taking of a permanent fund dividend for rent and damages owed to a residential landlord.
- Property Managers were asked to review HB 282 and they agreed that changing the refund time allowed on the security deposit from 14 days to 30 days is important and should be included in the bill along with clarification on the carpet cleaning procedures.
- Discussion took place about electronic signatures being binding for Property Management leases and notices. Brenda Hewitt, staff for Rep. Issacson indicated that Alaska Statute 09.80.040 covers this issue and it is not necessary to include in HB 282.
- Wendy Chamberlain will check to see what the current statue requires regarding property management transaction notifications (verbal, email, written or posted notices).