A Message from President Mike Theo: Time to Engage

 Mike Theo  |    March 07, 2012

We are entering the final stages of a long legislative session, which began in January 2011 and is scheduled to end in mid to late March. And in this recall-stressed, hyper-partisan legislative environment, good public policy can easily get stalled as time ticks off the clock.

To ensure that the many remaining issues on the WRA’s legislative agenda are addressed before the final legislative bell rings, now is the time for all REALTOR® members to get engaged!

Action required

In the coming weeks, you will receive several WRA Calls to Action via e-mail on pending legislation, asking you to contact your legislators and explain why they should support specific bills. Your follow-up is crucial to the passage of these bills. With a few simple clicks of your mouse, you will be providing lawmakers valuable insight as to why these bills are important and how Wisconsin will benefit as a result of their support. Investing just a few minutes of time will help your legislators make the right decision and help Wisconsin homeowners – and REALTORS® — all at the same time.

Important issues

While the focus this session has often been on issues other than those related to real estate, the legislature has passed many significant laws in support of homeowners and REALTORS® in the last year. These issues include: A freeze of the property tax levy statewide; the creation of a state income tax deduction for health savings accounts for REALTORS® and other independent contractors and small businesses; restructuring of the Real Estate Examining Board and the entire Department of Safety and Professional Services – which was formerly the Department of Regulation and Licensing; the elimination of the anti-development farmland conversion penalty; the prohibition of local landlord-tenant laws that are more restrictive than state standards; the restoration of a housing impact statement for every bill considered by the legislature; the extension of the pier registration deadline; and the restructuring of the state’s business development department into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

But there’s more - much more - left to be done. Still pending on the WRA’s legislative agenda are the following bills dealing primarily with regulatory reforms: wetland regulation reform; presumptive approval deadlines for DNR permits; simplifying pier grandfathering standards and modifying other navigable waterway regulations; broker experience requirements; development moratoria; nonconforming structures and substandard lots; municipal utilities collecting tenant arrearages from landlords; right to rent legislation; wind siting rules; and shoreland zoning rules. While not all of these issues will advance, those that do will need your support if they are to become law.

Our success depends on you

Mobilizing our members to contact lawmakers on key issues has long been the strength of our association and the basis for our significant bipartisan legislative success over the past three decades. In addition to member mobilization, the WRA deploys a highly regarded team of professional lobbyists; we provide financial support and endorse candidates who support REALTOR® issues; and we engage the public through issue advocacy and grassroots lobbying efforts. At the end of February, we had 500 members come to REALTOR® & Government Day in Madison to visit their lawmakers in the Capitol to lobby on key bills.

Together, this portfolio of advocacy tools has helped the WRA advance one of our core missions - to pass good laws and defeat bad laws. Thanks to your personal contacts with lawmakers, your voluntary political contributions to RPAC and the Direct Giver Conduit Program, and your dues support for the Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance (WHA), our issue advocacy and grassroots lobbying efforts, the WRA has succeeded in helping preserve, protect and promote the interests of Wisconsin homeowners and property owners, one home at a time and one bill at a time.

They say politics is a contact sport. Legislative advocacy is too. That means it’s time for all REALTORS® to contact their legislators and help pass the key legislation still pending this legislative session. Stay tuned and stay engaged.

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