The 2019 General Assembly Session may have been considered a short session, but the body passed more bills this year than in 2018’s regular session. The Virginia REALTORS® Public Policy Committee, made up of REALTORS® from across the Commonwealth, reviewed over 200 pieces of legislation that impacted the real estate industry and homeowners. The legislation they reviewed included bills elected officials carried at our behest, bills that will chip away Virginia’s eviction rate, and bills that will hopefully provide affordable health insurance options for you and your families.
First, the REALTOR® Agenda bills – bills that we asked members of the General Assembly to carry for us – passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. We expect the Governor to sign all of them:
- HB 2218 – Carried by Delegate Jeff Bourne: This bill adds unlicensed real estate activity to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act to better protect homebuyers
- SB 1292 – Carried by Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel: This bill adds mineral rights & special flood hazard zones to the Residential Property Disclosure Statement and adds more specific language about where flood information can be found
- HB 2352/SB 1061 – Carried by Delegate Jason Miyares and Senator Monty Mason respectively: These bills clarify existing law allowing real estate licensees to hire both employees and independent contractors
- HB 2385/SB 1580 – Carried by Delegate David Bulova and Senator David Suetterlein respectively: These bills clarify the 3-day right of recession as it pertains to incomplete packets
Second, we worked to advance and pass bills addressing Virginia’s eviction rate that was born out of a year-long effort of the Virginia Housing Commission. The six bills address issues from requiring a written lease to the creation of eviction diversion pilot programs in Richmond, Petersburg, Hampton, and Danville. The Virginia Housing Commission created a special subcommittee of stakeholders that included representatives from REALTOR® and property manager associations, tenant’s rights advocates and fair housing lawyers—RAR’s CEO Laura Lafayette chaired the group. All six bills passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. The governor is expected to sign them all.
Finally, we made some exciting progress on the healthcare front. Two bills aimed at providing REALTORS® with health insurance options have passed through both the House and the Senate. The first, HB 2719, expands the definition of small group health insurance to include limited liability corporations. We believe the governor will sign this into law. The fate of the second bill, SB 1689, is more uncertain. This bill would allow the Virginia REALTORS® to offer an association health plan to its members, providing you and your families with an additional health insurance option. While it passed the House and Senate, it did face some opposition, and it is unclear whether the governor will issue a veto. We will continue our advocacy efforts on this front.
If you have questions regarding the 2019 General Assembly Session or our legislative initiatives, please don’t hesitate to contact your Government Affairs team: Elizabeth Greenfield at egreenfield@RARealtors.com and Joh Gehlbach at jgehlbach@RARealtors.com.