Evaluating Proposals for Sponsored LegislationUpdated September 2007Legislative Common Interest Development Housing Opportunity Manufactured Housing Land Use and Environmental Property Management Real Estate Finance TaxationThe following is for study only and has NOT been approved by Legislative Committee, Policy Committees, Executive Committee, or the Boardof Directors.
Issue: What strategic questions should C.A.R. consider in evaluating proposals for sponsored legislation?
Options: Not applicable
Status/Summary: In addition to acting upon the bills of others, C.A.R. sponsors its own legislation. Early in the 1990s, C.A.R. Directors began to be more aggressive in approving sponsored legislation, accepting the risk of unsuccessful legislation as the price of possible gains. C.A.R. sponsored legislation increased from around 5-12 proposals per year to an all time high of 20 in the 1996 legislative year. Most recently, especially in risk management and local government issues, theDirectorate has been more aggressive and more willing to sponsor legislation with a calculated risk.
In June 1996, the Board of Directors created a Legislative Priority Group. This group, drawn from C.A.R. Leadership and the chairs of policy committees is essentially a check on sponsorship decisions whose enthusiasm may outstrip available political capital. To the credit of C.A.R. policy committees, the Priority Group has never denied sponsorship to a proposal approved by the directors.
Discussion: In comparison to other lobbying entities, C.A.R. has historically sponsored a relatively large number of bills each year. In the zero sum game of governmental advocacy, this emphasis on proactive legislation necessarily comes at the expense of reactive or defensive legislative activity. C.A.R. has not historically "prioritized" legislation in terms of ranking one above or below another, but instead has pursued all of its sponsored bills "all out." C.A.R.'s prioritization has historically meant determining which of many worthy proposals become sponsored legislation in a given year. Set out below is a discussion of some of the considerations relevant to whether or not to propose legislation forsponsorship by C.A.R.
Sponsoring legislation expends political "capital", reducing the ability to react to legislation of others. Given the dramatic turnover of membership in the legislature as the result of term limits, the consolidation of legislative power in one party, reactive ability is increasingly important. In response, C.A.R. has reduced the number of sponsored bills and increased reliance on so-called "targets of opportunity" presented in legislation of others.
Unanticipated Challenges - In the words of the late Gilda Radner, "It's always something". In each legislative session it seems that some major, but unanticipated reactive (opposition) challenge emerges. High profile opposition issues have ranged from mortgage bankers attempting to restructure the real estate lending license regulation; to homeowners insurance and earthquake insurance; to DRE changes, tax changes and property management. In 2008 these issues will carry over, along with transaction liability, rent control, land use, and political reform.
Member Mobilization Implications - C.A.R.'s legislative prowess has historically been based upon the ability, or perceived ability, to mobilize its membership on a particular issue. Any strategic decision regarding sponsored bills must take into account the allocation of member mobilization resources as well. For example, in 2006 the anti-NIMBY attorney fees bill by itself consumed substantial amounts of mobilization resources and political capital at every stage of passage. In brief, opponents fought "tooth and nail" at every vote. If C.A.R. sponsors a bill, will the rank and file volunteers turn out to support it? Or willtheir enthusiasm be exhausted by multiple demands on their time?
Factors to Consider
What is C.A.R.'s top priority? Even if the proposal is a well thought out, desirable change, the legislation may not be as important to REALTORS® as other competing proposals.
What is C.A.R.'s real goal? Is there a major policy goal to be achieved in the proposed legislation? Bills that are put in just to posture in the capitol may needlessly expend resources and erode C.A.R.'s credibility with the legislature. How significant is the proposed change to the real estate industry and the everyday activities of REALTORS®?
Does the political "cost" justify the improvement that might be gained by the bill? Cost comes in two ways. Sponsored legislation necessarily comes at the expense of reactive efforts and other proactive activities. Secondly, whether described as "chits," "bullets," or "trips to the well;" any lobbying entity's abilityto marshal votes declines with the number of issues attempted and with the diversity of areas addressed.
Does C.A.R. need to be the sponsor? Oftentimes REALTOR® policy goals may be paralleled by other interest groups, and C.A.R. cansimply "piggyback" -- support their legislation rather than sponsor a parallel competing measure, or force a desired change as a price of removing opposition. If more control (and more political investment) is desirable, co-sponsorship with anotherentity may be a preferable option.
Options for positions include:
1.Support, but not Sponsor This position implicitly concludes the proposal is not an appropriate subject for expenditure of the level of legislative resources (at this time) that actual sponsorship would require.
2.Sponsor as an Amendment Actively seek to insert the proposal in relevant bills of others as opportunities present themselves.
3.Co-Sponsor Share in the drafting, control and required expenditure of resources with another lobbying entity. This option requires much more political resources than simple support of legislation of others, but carries with it more control of the final product.
4.Sponsor Adopt as a portion of C.A.R.'s own legislative program; highest investment and prioritization of legislative resource.
Who is the legislation for? Is the whole Real Estate industry really committed to the proposal, or does it onlybenefit a small portion of C.A.R.'s membership? Will the bill divide C.A.R. membership? In the recent struggle with the title industry over affiliated business legislation, the lack of unanimity within REALTOR® ranks was ultimately fatalto our program.Don't over reach. Is the proposal evenhanded to Buyers / Sellers; listing / selling agents; lenders / borrowers, etc., at least on the face of the proposal? Little legislative sympathy is given to attempts to stifle competitors, exploit consumers, or fix more than the problem at hand. C.A.R. is regarded as a powerhouse within its particular "turf," but like other lobbying entities, C.A.R.'s influence declines rapidly as it moves away from "core" concerns.
Has it been tried it before? How come? How come it didn't work then? Even in this era of term limits, the legislative viability or "do-ability" of various types of proposals changes relatively slowly. In recent years, the Legislative Committee and the Board of Directors have evidenced a willingness to sponsor more "long shot" attempts at legislation. However, once a proposal has been tried and found wanting, should it not any repeat attempt be based upon indications that previous opposition can be dealt with before it is reintroduced?
Please see the State Legislative Issues Report for a more comprehensive discussion of how sponsored legislation is proposed through the so-called "two tier, three track system," andfor a detailed discussion of the implications of the various possible positions on legislation.
Legislative Priority Group Members of the Legislative Priority Group Include: * Chair of the Legislative Committee * Chairs of thecommittees that report through Legislative Committee (Common Interest Development, Land Use, Local Governmental Relations, Property Management, Real Estate Finance, Taxation * Member of the Executive Committee * Chair of the Planning Subcommittee of Strategic Planning and Finance Committee * President-elect (Chair)