This week, both House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed a provision that would prohibit the EPA from using any funds in FY 2016 to implement the now-finalized Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. At this time, there is no word yet on when either measure may reach the floor for a vote. Other spending bans in the bills included the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which restricts carbon emissions from power plants, and placing the greater sage grouse on the endangered species list.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced H.R. 2775, the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015 (“RTPA”). This bill, cosponsored by Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), would provide a level playing field between traditional “brick-and-mortar” retailers and remote sellers with respect to the collection of state sales taxes. It does this by giving states the authority to certify software which remote sellers can integrate into their online stores, which handles determining what sales tax to charge for buyers and collecting/remitting it. States are required to provide this software to remote sellers at no cost. Finally, the RTPA gradually phases in which sellers must collect and remit sales taxes based on their gross annual receipts. This phase-in should help alleviate administrative confusion and give smaller sellers time to prepare for the change.
The Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule giving telephone companies wider latitude in preventing robocalls and spam text messages to consumers on both landline and wireless phones.
On June 19, 2015, Regulation A+ took effect. Regulation A+ is part of the rulemaking that encompasses the JOBS Act of 2012, which is designed to increase capital-raising opportunities for small businesses. Regulation A+ makes it easier for small businesses to raise capital by removing many of the regulatory compliance hurdles that had been in place previously. The new rules will allow companies to raise up to $50 million under Regulation A, which is a less-complicated route in terms of compliance and administration.
At a hearing of the House Oversight Committee, FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker offered the most specific date yet on the anticipated date of completion of the rules governing the commercial use of drones. Whitaker said that the agency was pushing for the rule to be finalized by mid-2016. The proposed rule was issued in February 2015 and the public comment period closed in April 2015. Many industry watchers were guessing that it would be at least 2017 by the time the rule was finalized.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun to issue waivers for some drone operators to legally and commercially operate. There are over 200 companies with real estate related purposes that have the waivers and can operate legally. Without a waiver from the FAA, commercial use of drones is prohibited. The waivers are issued through Section 333 of the FAA Modernization Act of 2012 and are known as Section 333 waivers. NAR has created a list of operators who offer photography, inspection, appraisal and other real estate services using drones. The list is not an endorsement of any operator, it is a restatement of information that is publicly available from the FAA.
Quick facts about Like-Kind Exchanges for Commercial REALTORS®.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) provided LoanSafe Appraisal Manager (LSAM), a new automated appraisal review tool, to all VA lenders. The VA expects the tool to help lenders quickly assess appraisal risk for VA policy compliance violations, over/under-valuations, and appraisal quality issues. LSAM does not provide an estimate of value or make decisions for the lenders. In addition, LSAM does not accept or reject appraisals or characterize them as good or bad.
FHA released its Single Family Loan Quality Assessment Methodology or “Defect Taxonomy.” The Taxonomy explains how FHA plans to gather information about defects in FHA loans. The Taxonomy is supposed to help FHA lenders identify underwriting issues and reduce errors that could lead to enforcement actions. FHA hopes that the Taxonomy will give lenders more confidence in working with qualified FHA borrowers across the credit spectrum. The nine-nine different codes that FHA currently uses to describe loan defects will be reduced to nine distinct defects.
During Capitol Hill visits, NAR prioritizes Commercial real estate issues like Like-Kind Exchanges and Leasehold Improvements.