Common Interest Development Committee
Housing Opportunity Committee
Manufactured Housing Committee
Land Use and Environmental Committee
Property Management Committee
Real Estate Finance Committee
The following is for study only and has NOT been approved by Legislative
Committee, Policy Committees, Executive Committee, or the Board of
Issue: What strategic questions should C.A.R. consider in
evaluating proposals for sponsored legislation?
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, the Directorate 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
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
legislation should be sponsored at all.
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.
Factors to Consider
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
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 will their enthusiasm be exhausted by multiple demands on their
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 ability to marshal votes declines with the number of issues attempted
and with the diversity of areas addressed.
Does C.A.R. really need to be the sponsor? Oftentimes REALTOR® policy
goals may be paralleled by other interest groups, and C.A.R. can simply
"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 another entity 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
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 only benefit 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 fatal to 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"
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
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," and for a detailed discussion of the implications of
the various possible positions on legislation.