Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking it to the Top: How NAHB works to save members money and keep businesses thriving

Serving as the home builder’s voice in Washington is one of the most important actions that NAHB takes to save members money and to keep their businesses thriving.

NAHB lobbyists constantly interact with congressional lawmakers and their staffs on a host of issues including taxes, housing finance, immigration, stormwater, wetlands, OSHA and much more to ensure that the housing industry’s concerns are taken into account whenever Congress and regulators consider actions that will affect housing.

An uninformed decision on just one of these issues could add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the cost of building a new home or doing a remodeling job. Collectively, the amounts could be much larger, and in more extreme circumstances, a builder could even be forced to look for another line of business.

Very few organizations are afforded the privilege of testifying before Congress, and it is even more of a rarity for a group to appear before lawmakers on multiple occasions.

As an acknowledged authority on housing among the nation’s lawmakers, NAHB has a great deal of clout on Capitol Hill. Already this year, NAHB has appeared before several congressional committees to fight for the housing industry’s interests on critical issues including current housing tax incentives, affordable financing for home buyers, the cost of building materials, and the shortage of residential construction workers.

Last month alone, NAHB testified on behalf of its members on:

  • FHA reform. NAHB First Vice Chairman Kevin Kelly testified before Congress April 10 in support of congressional efforts to reform the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), but urged lawmakers to proceed cautiously to avoid any disruptions to the nation’s housing finance system.
    • “While there is no doubt that the housing finance system needs to be reformed, the contributions that FHA made during the economic downturn underscore the need for a government backstop for both the primary and secondary mortgage markets,” he told lawmakers. View Kelly’s testimony or see NAHB’s press release.
  • Forest bill to boost production of timber on federal lands. Legislation requiring the government to implement active forest management plans would benefit rural communities and boost harvesting of wood on federal lands, NAHB member Justin Wood told Congress on April 11.
    • Testifying on behalf of the nation's home builders before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, Wood, vice president of construction for Fish Construction NW Inc. in Portland, Ore., registered NAHB's support for the "Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act" (H.R. 1526) introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.).
    • This legislation would encourage increased production on federal timber lands, Wood said, adding that “it will go a long way toward helping rebuild the supply chain and reviving local mills and timber companies, while ensuring the continued recovery of the housing industry."
  • Immigration legislation. NAHB Chairman Rick Judson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 22 about Senate immigration bill S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
    • Specifically, he focused on the legislation’s guest worker provisions, and told Congress that they must be improved to address the significant role that foreign workers play in the housing industry and to help alleviate current labor challenges that are hampering the housing and economic recovery. For more details, see Judson’s testimony and NAHB’s press release
  • Tax reform. Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Ways and Means Committee on April 25, NAHB economist Robert Dietz vigorously defended the importance of vital housing tax incentives such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the mortgage interest deduction and real estate tax deductions as lawmakers consider ways to reform the U.S. tax code.
    • Dietz reminded legislators of the important impacts that housing has on the economy and job growth, noted the critical role that the Low Income Housing Tax Credit plays in creating affordable rental housing, and set the record straight on a number of false assumptions regarding the mortgage interest deduction. For these reasons and more, he said, “we urge Congress to be cautious and thoughtful when it comes to housing and tax reform.” For more information, view Dietz’s testimony or see NAHB’s press release.

Amp Up Our Impact: Attend the NAHB Legislative Conference

Just as NAHB speaks out on behalf its members, the association offers members a unique opportunity to take their concerns to the top and meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill.

NAHB’s annual Legislative Conference, which will be held on Wednesday, June 5, will give members an unparalleled opportunity to lobby lawmakers to protect their business and industry, establish lasting relationships with their federal officials, and do their part to ensure that NAHB’s issues are heard by key Washington policymakers.

Especially in these challenging times, participation by grassroots members can make a huge difference as various interest groups compete to be heard in Washington.

A strong builder turnout on June 5 will send a powerful message to members of Congress that housing must remain a top national priority.

For more information and to register, visit; or email Nick Gentile at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8542.

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