Accomplishment 1: introduction of three important pieces of legislation to improve conditions for home builders and remodelers
The Home Building Lending Improvement Act of 2012 (S.2078)
Because the difficulty of accessing and maintaining construction credit continues to be a major obstacle for home builders and the housing recovery in general, NAHB has been aggressively pushing for solutions to this crisis on both the regulatory and legislative fronts. NAHB worked with Senator Robert Mendendez (D-N.J.) to ensure introduction of this bill in early February. The legislation seeks to restore the flow of credit for new housing production in order to create jobs, meet rising housing demand and bolster the economic expansion. It has brought significant attention to the AD&C credit crunch in Congress, and has helped spur questions about credit availability in various congressional hearings, thereby exerting pressure on banks and regulators to help resolve the situation. Its introduction follows up on similar legislation that NAHB helped get introduced in the House last year -- H.R. 1755, the Home Construction Lending Regulatory Improvement Act -- which currently has 95 House cosponsors. For details on S. 2078 or H.R. 1755, contact Scott Meyer (800-368-5242 x8144).
The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 (S. 2148)
While NAHB supports measures to ensure that young children and pregnant women are protected from exposure to lead paint, the time and costs associated with the EPA’s flawed Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (LRRP) effectively incentivize home owners to 1) hire an uncertified remodeler who doesn’t follow the rules 2) put off needed repairs or 3) do the work themselves – each of which subverts the intention of the rule in the first place. NAHB has led the charge in Congress and with regulators to try to make this rule more workable and effective, and in early March we made a major step forward when Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and five co-sponsors introduced legislation to improve the lead paint rule. This bill gives remodelers the opportunity to lobby their political representatives in Congress, who in turn can put pressure on the EPA to make specific necessary amendments to the rule. The bill itself would:
- Reinstate the opt-out provision for homes that are not occupied by children or pregnant women, thus focusing the rule on the protection of these specific groups.
- Suspend the LRRP if EPA does not approve a commercially available test kit that meets the regulation’s requirements.
- Allow remodelers the “right to cure” paperwork errors found during an inspection.
- Eliminate the “hands on” recertification training requirements.
- Prohibit EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until at least one year after the agency conducts a study demonstrating the need for such action.
- Clarify the definition of “abatement” to exclude remodeling/renovation activities.
- Provide an exemption to the regulation for emergency renovations.
The Preserve Waters of the United States Act (S. 2245) and companion legislation in the House (H.R. 4965)
The EPA and Army Corps of engineers are getting ready to issue a guidance document that will evade the more transparent rule-making process to eliminate all reasonable limits on the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. As a result, the federal government’s reach would extend to essentially all waters, including storm sewers, retention basins and seasonal streams. This blatant regulatory overreach would lead to many more land development, road construction and residential projects requiring federal permits and would exacerbate permitting delays. In turn, it would increase construction costs, cause job losses, drive down housing affordability and hamper economic growth. NAHB is leading the charge against this possibility by building support for legislation that we successfully pushed to be introduced in both the House and Senate. This legislation has especially strong backing in the House after being introduced on April 27 by Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) along with ranking member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Water Resources Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Contact: Courtney Flezzani (800-368-5242 x8459).