Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

The Washington Report covers legislative and regulatory policy activities, and is compiled by NAR's Government Affairs policy staff. To receive this content via email, subscribe to NAR's Weekly Report newsletter and check the "legislative & regulatory issues" box.

Recent

the FTC Consumer Blog issued a post focused on hackers who have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.

A coalition of environmental groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for not listing an isolated population of Greater Sage Grouse on the CA-NV border as endangered.  Prior to the decision not to list, the FWS worked with government partners and the private sector, including developers and farmers, to preserve habitat and put in other mechanisms to protect the species.  The effort was hailad as a model for the protection of other spceies.

Senators Flake (R-AZ), Gardner (R-CO) and Lee (R-UT) introduced S. 2733 a bill that would address the issue of venue reform in patent litigation cases. . Last year, nearly half of all new patent infringement cases filed in the United States were filed in one judicial district. The high volume of cases filed in this district is not a coincidence. Patent Assertion Entities, otherwise known as patent trolls, take advantage of broad interpretations of current law that allow them to file their lawsuits where local rules and practices, along with physical distance, make it very expensive for companies to defend themselves.  NAR supports venue reform along with a comprehensive set of patent litigation reforms aimed at curbing patent troll abuses.

NAR, as part of the "Marketplace Fairness Coalition," sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging its Chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to hold a hearing on internet sales tax fairness legislation.  It is crucial that Congress pass legislation allowing states to collect sales tax on purchases made through online retailers.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (the “Services”) have promulgated major changes to their critical habitat regulations. The result will be more designation of state, local and private land as critical habitat, and increased regulatory burdens and costs on land activities. Effects will be felt by a wide range of public and private sector entities across government and industry sectors, including energy, land and mineral development, real estate, banking, commercial transactions and agriculture. The changes take effect on March 14, 2016.

In the biggest Clean Water Act (CWA) case in a decade, the US Supreme Court will soon decide whether government assertions of CWA jurisdiction may be challenged in court. All commercial activities that involve the use of land or waterbodies can be impacted by CWA regulatory burdens. Thus, the outcome of this case has the potential to affect all public and private sector entities engaged in land use and development including the banking, real estate, retail, energy and agriculture industries.

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