Chris Thomas (Childress-Klein Properties), Paisley Gordon (CPG Construction), Joe Padilla (REBIC), Alison Royal-Combs (Keller-Williams) and Joe Rempson (T.R. Lawing Realty) meet with U.S. Senator Thom Tillis in his Charlotte office.
Board members from REBIC and the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association met this week in Charlotte with United States Senator Thom Tillis, to discuss issues ranging from environmental regulation and patent reform to infrastructure funding and immigration.
The freshman Senator from Cornelius shared his thoughts on the recent District Court ruling that prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing its controversial Waters of the United States rule, which expands federal jurisdiction over small waterways, detention ponds and wetlands. The EPA only recognized the court’s injunction over the 13 mostly western states that participated in the lawsuit, and is now enforcing the stricter standards across the rest of the nation, including in North Carolina.
Tillis said he supported legislation pending in the Senate (S 1140, the ‘Federal Water Quality Protection Act’) that would roll back the rule, but conceded it would face a near-certain veto by President Obama. The best hope, he said, was for Congress to use its ‘power of the purse’ to force the EPA to amend the regulation through the appropriations process. The House already voted earlier this year to pass companion legislation to withdraw the Waters of the U.S. rule.
While the Senator said he generally supported Patent Reform legislation backed by the National Association of Realtors® (H.R. 1732, the ‘Regulatory Integrity Protection Act,’) he expressed concern that it would be difficult for Congress to work through some outstanding issues raised by the pharmaceutical industry before the end of the year. He offered a similar outlook for Tax Reform, which he said would likely have to wait until after the 2016 election.
Tillis expressed support for the Senate’s six-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund Act, which would pay for critical infrastructure improvements in North Carolina and across the U.S. The bill is awaiting action by the House, which instead opted for a short-term extension until the end of October. Tillis said short-term patches to the highway funding program created havoc for state and local governments that were trying to plan for long-term growth, and said the Senate plan provided more stability than the House proposal, which would require tax policy changes aimed at repatriating offshore corporate profits.
The Senator also said he was optimistic that Congress would tackle the difficult issue of Immigration Reform after next year’s presidential election. He shared the construction industry’s concerns over labor availability, and said he supported an approach that would prioritize border security and the expansion of the HB-1 Visa program for skilled immigrants who could fill the thousands of open jobs in construction, agriculture and other high-demand fields.
REBIC is grateful to Senator Tillis for taking time from his busy schedule to meet with our members and discuss the real estate industry’s federal legislative priorities!