Upon the close of the biennium very few bills hit the finish line until the very end of the session. Some bills never gained any traction, some gained momentum at crossover and most sped up when time was running out. Vermont Realtors® worked hard on these very important issues for VR members.
Bills that passed
H. 227 – Licensing of Home/Property Inspectors (VR Supported)
This bill was signed by the Governor on May 22, 2014 and will take effect on July 1, 2014. This bill prohibits “property inspections performed for a fee or other compensation services involving the physical inspection of real property structures and other improvements in order to evaluate the condition of the property, including any safety issues or material defects” by anyone not licensed as a property inspector with the Office of Professional Regulation.
H. 656 – OPR Bill with Realtor Education CE credits (VR Supported)
This bill was also signed by the Governor on May 22, 2014. This act shall take effect on July 1, 2014. With this bill it will now be required for a newly licensed sales agent to complete eight hours of instruction addressing topics specified by the Commission related to the sales agents practice within 90 days from the issuance of the initial salesperson license. In addition to this new educational requirement, licensed Brokers wishing to renew their license will now be required to complete at least 24 hours of Continuing Education instruction, approved by the Commission, during the preceding two-year period. Four hours of this continuing education instruction shall address legislation and other topics specified by the Real Estate Commission for each renewal period.
H. 823 – Encouraging Growth in Designated City Centers
After much committee discussion and public testimony, this bill was signed by Governor Shumlin on May 27, 2014. This bill will provides development incentives within state designated growth centers to help address the State’s housing shortage and promote walkable communities. This will bar large scale commercial development outside a designated center from contributing to the “extension” of strip development and continue to encourage new growth to be located in community centers.
H. 526 – Shorelands Protection Standards
The House and the Senate have agreed following a Conference Committee to the new Shorelands Standards. These will be effective July 1, 2014. A draft handbook has been created by the Agency of Natural Resources and is still being reviewed for functionality. The Shoreland Protection Act is comprised of the Woodland and the Development Zones along the entire shoreland area surrounding a lake. This area measured outward horizontally form the lake’s mean water level is 250 feet. These standards are in addition to those requirements which may already be in effect within a municipal zoning regulation. Allowable activities are specific to the Woodland Zone and Development zones and standards are set for impervious areas, re-development, and additions or expansions. Permits will be required and obtained subjectively through ANR.
Bills that did not pass
H. 590 – Safety and Regulation of Dams (VR Opposed)
This bill is something we will continue to watch. Originally the bill was requiring inspections and registration fees on bodies of impounded water or dams. The inspections would be performed annually by licensed engineers and the fees were structured based on low, significant, or high hazard dams. A “time of sale” clause was also built in creating an extra step at closing. It was passed in the Natural Resources Senate Committee with amendments removing the time of sale clause and the fee for low hazard dams. These changes were agreeable to Vermont Realtors®. This bill was sent to the Senate Finance Committee and never made it out for a vote.
H. 889 – Property Tax/Education Finance Reform Bill
This important issue did not have enough time to be fully vetted during this session, but you can be assured that VR will continue to push for property tax reform next year.