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Capitol Conference attendees advocate for balanced housing policy: the passage of the Bankruptcy Code reform was among the highlights of the Capitol Conference. NAA welcomed a record number of attendees, who made 203 visits to Capitol Hill, an all-time high.

Breaking a 10-year struggle, U.S. Bankruptcy Code reform passed in Congress, bringing a tremendous sense of accomplishment to the record number of attendees at last month's Capitol Conference held in Arlington, Va.

The passage of the bankruptcy reform bill is one of the single greatest legislative accomplishments brought forth in part by the efforts of the National Apartment Association/National Multi Housing Council (NAA/NMHC) Joint Legislative Program. The determined communication by NAA members and NAA/NMHC staff helped make it happen just days after the Capitol Conference was held.

Ten years ago, NAA/NMHC launched a campaign to remove a loophole in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that allowed renters to abuse the system. Specifically, the code's automatic stay provision allowed renters facing eviction to live rent free in their apartments until the stay was lifted by the courts, which could often take six months or more. This was especially devastating to independent rental owners who depend on the rental income to manage their property and pay bills.

While legislators were debating bankruptcy reform, more than 400 NAA members discussed other strategies and suggestions for issues during their record 203 visits to legislators' offices on Capitol Hill on March 9, the climactic event of the four-day conference.

During those visits, NAA members met face-to-face with their members of Congress and members' Hill staffs to further make their case about the importance of developing a more balanced housing policy. Among the many other topics discussed were the Do-Not-Fax Rule, funding for affordable housing, meth lab cleanup, tax reform and other topics of local, state and national scope.

Before venturing to Capitol Hill, conference attendees reviewed the top industry issues during a briefing delivered by the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program staff, led by Jim Arbury, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.

"The prepping that we got before going to the Hill was excellent," said Jeff Goldstein, President and CEO, MetroVentures Residential, Cincinnati. "I'm not big into the political or lobbying scene, but the points made were very interesting and helpful."

As a part of the Capitol Conference, attendees also heard from industry experts on effective ways to lobby state legislatures, how apartment owners and staff should address the media and how amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established by the U.S. Department of Labor affects overtime compensation.

Other sessions included a recap of recent court cases and settlements that affect the rental housing industry and a presentation that offered advice on how to build successful grassroots fund raising.

"The attorney [who addressed recent court cases] was excellent," said Mike Bodin, Regional Manager, Equity Residential Properties, Houston. "It was great to get her insight into the cases that involve paying onsite staff during their on-call period. This is something that is a potential problem for our industry. And, the political lobbyist who spoke delivered points well about how important it is to stay engaged with Congress."

Attendees were entertained by the political comedy troupe The Capitol Steps and spent an evening at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery at a NAA Better Government Fund event. Some attendees lunched on Capitol Hill at the exclusive Capitol View Conference Center with sweeping views of the nation's Capitol.

NAA would like to thank the sponsors of the four-day event: Apartment Guide Printernet, AZUMA Leasing, For Rent Magazine, Mac-Gray, Network Multifamily and RENTNET.

Government Affairs Roundtable

The 10th Annual Government Affairs Roundtable featured renowned national media coaches Nan Tolbert and Jeff Strei, who provided a lively comprehensive review of how to respond to the media.

The presentation involved participation of NAA members, who were interviewed by the coaches about hypothetical situations involving evictions, fires and emergency responses and fair housing. The interviews were filmed and then critiqued by the presenters and the audience.

"Their presentation gave me some of the best information I've ever received at NAA," said Debi Wehmeier, CAM, CAPS, CPM, Senior Vice President, Greystar Multi Family, Austin, Texas. "Reaching the media and getting our word out is something that will make a difference for me professionally and personally."

BODF Talks About Moisture

The Builders, Owners and Developers Forum welcomed NAA/NMHC's Vice President of Building Codes Ron Nickson, who addressed moisture control during his presentation, "Designing Out Front for the media. Moisture Control."

Nickson demonstrated new computer modeling software that could predict moisture problems resulting from condensation in building envelope assemblies.

NAA's consulting economist Robert J. Sheehan also made a presentation, sharing details from the 2002 U.S. Economic Census on construction trends and statistics.

NAA PAC Fund-Raising Totals

Fund raising for the NAA PAC and Better Government Fund (BGF) during the Capitol Conference exceeded expectations. With more than $38,000 raised for NAA PAC and the BGF at the event, NAA is ahead of last year's pace.

Through March 10, the NAA PAC has raised $33,897 and has pledges for an additional $18,533. The BGF has raised $22,640 and has pledges for an additional $23,000.

The Ideal Hill Visit

Making the Most of 17 Minutes

The Houston Apartment Association (HAA) was among many NAA affiliates that were fully satisfied with their Capitol Hill visits.

On its trip, a group of seven HAA members met with the legislative assistant to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas-8th) and spent 17 minutes discussing key issues of national importance and others more specific to Houston apartment owners.

Andy Teas, HAA's Vice President of Government Affairs, began the discussion, reiterating both HAA's and NAA's support of bankruptcy reform. Brady's legislative assistant, Tammy Fisher, assured the group that Brady was on its side.

HAA then discussed the imbalance of the homeownership policy, citing how studies show that too many people are buying homes they cannot afford, resulting in a record high rate of foreclosures nationwide. HAA's members also expressed their disagreement with the zero downpayment policy for homebuyers.

"With the younger, more transient population and a more mobile workforce overall, there are a lot of people who would be better served by renting," Teas said.

HAA member Mike Bodin shared the story of how easy it is for some people to be approved for a substantial home loan.

"I have residents who are having difficulty paying their rent on time," Bodin said, "and now they are coming to me and moving out because they say they have purchased a home."

The group also spoke about the proposed reduction in funds for affordable housing vouchers. Fisher said she would bring that issue to Brady's attention.

HAA continued the discussion by outlining its concerns involving possible changes to the real estate tax code, proposals for a national sales tax and the simplification of the tax code. Brady is particularly involved in this issue, as he serves on the Ways and Means Committee. "Simplification," Fisher said, "is where Brady thinks Congress is headed." She also told the HAA contingent to inform her when specific tax reform measures are considered so that Brady is aware of HAA's stance on the issues.

Finally, the group discussed the problem of meth lab clean-up and how it costs apartment owners thousands of dollars to clean what is essentially a hazardous materials issue. HAA recommended that guidelines be put in place on how to deal with this issue.

Conference Attendees Visit Capitol Hill

Hill Visit Summary

Total Visits: 203

Total States Visited: 20

Total Senate Visits: 52

Total Representative Visits: 151

Affiliates with most visits:

Texas apartment associations: 38

Florida apartment associations: 31

Alabama

Alabama Apartment Association

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R)

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R)

Rep. Jo Bonner (R-1st)

Rep. Terry Everett (R-2nd)

Rep. Michael D. Rogers (R-3rd)

Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-4th)

Rep. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer Jr. (D-5th)

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-6th)

Rep. Arthur Davis (D-7th)

Arizona

Arizona Multihousing association

Sen. John McCain (R)

Sen. Jon Kyl (R)

Rep. Rick Renzi (R-1st)

Rep. Trent Franks (R-2nd)

Rep. John Shadegg (R-3rd)

Rep. Ed Pastor (D-4th)

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-5th)

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-6th)

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-7th)

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-8th)

California

San Diego County Apartment Association

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49th)

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-50th)

Rep. Bob Filner (D-51st)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-52nd)

Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-53rd)

Colorado

Apartment Association of Colorado Springs

Sen. Wayne Allard (R)

Rep. Mark Udall (D-2nd)

Rep. John Salazar (D-3rd)

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-4th)

Rep. Joel Hefley (R-5th)

Apartment Association of Metro Denver

Sen. Ken Salazar (D)

Rep. Diane Degette (D-1st)

Rep. Thomas Tancredo (R-6th)

Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-7th)

Connecticut

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D)

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D)

Florida

Apartment Association of Greater Orlando

Sen. Mel Martinez (R)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D)

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-3rd)

Rep. John Mica (R-7th)

Rep. Ric Keller (R-8th)

Rep. Dave Weldon (R-15th)

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-24th)

Bay Area Apartment Association

Sen. Mel Martinez (R)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D)

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-5th)

Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-9th)

Rep. Bill Young (R-10th)

Rep. Jim Davis (D-11th)

Rep. Adam Putnam (R-12th)

Capitol City Apartment association

Sen. Mel Martinez (R)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D)

Rep Jeff Miller (R-1st)

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-6th)

First Coast Apartment Association

Sen. Mel Martinez (R)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D)

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-3rd)

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-6th)

Rep. John Mica (R-7th)

SE Florida Apartment Association

Sen. Mel Martinez (R)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D)

Rep. Mark Foley (R-16th)

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-17th)

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-19th)

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-21st)

Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-22nd)

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-23rd)

Georgia

Georgia Apartment Association

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R)

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-2nd)

Rep. Jim Marshall (D-3rd)

Rep. John Lewis (D-5th)

Rep. Tom Price (R-6th)

Rep. John Linder (R-7th)

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-8th)

Rep. Charles Norwood (R-9th)

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-10th)

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-11th)

Rep. John Barrow (D-12th)

Rep. David Scott (D-13th)

Indiana

Apartment Association of Fort Wayne-NE Indiana

Sen. Evan Bayh (D)

Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R)

Rep. Chris Chocola (R-2nd)

Rep. Mark Souder (R-3rd)

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-4th)

Rep. Mike Pence (R-6th)

Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-8th)

Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-9th)

Kentucky

Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Apartment Association

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-4th)

Lexington Apartment Association

Rep. Ben Chandler (D-6th)

Louisville Apartment Association

Sen. Jim Bunning (R)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R)

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-2nd)

Michigan

Detroit Metropolitan Apartment Association

Sen. Carl Levin (D)

Rep. Candice Miller (R-10th)

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-11th)

PMA of Western Michigan

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-2nd)

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-3rd)

Rep. Dave Camp (R-4th)

Rep. Fred Upton (R-6th)

Washtenaw Area Apartment Association

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D)

Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-7th)

Rep. John Dingell (D-15th)

Missouri

Apartment Association of Kansas City,

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-7th)

New Hampshire

Apartment Association of New, Hampshire

Sen. John Sununu (R)

Sen. Judd Gregg (R)

Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-1st)

North Carolina

Apartment Association of North Carolina

Sen. Richard Burr (R)

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R)

Rep. Robin Hayes (R-8th)

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-9th)

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-10th)

Rep. Melvin Watt (D-12th)

Triad Apartment Association

Sen. Richard Burr (R)

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R)

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-5th)

Rep. Howard Coble (R-6th)

Rep. Robin Hayes (R-8th)

Rep. Melvin Watt (D-12th)

Rep. Brad Miller (D-13th)

Triangle Apartment Association

Sen. Richard Burr (R)

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R)

Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-2nd)

Rep. David Price (D-4th)

Rep. Melvin Watt (D-12th)

Rep. Brad Miller (D-13th)

Ohio

Columbus Apartment Association

Rep. Michael Oxley (R-4th)

Rep. David Hobson (R-7th)

Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-12th)

Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-15th)

Rep. Bob Ney (R-18th)

Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky

Apartment Association

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-1st)

Rep. Rob Portman (R-2nd)

Rep. Bob Hey (R-18th)

Oklahoma

Apartment Association of Central Oklahoma

Rep. Tom Cole (R-4th)

Tulsa Apartment Association

Sen. Tom Coburn (R)

Sen. James Inhofe (R)

Rep. John Sullivan (R-1st)

Rep. Dan Boren (D-2nd)

Pennsylvania

Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia

Sen. Rick Santorum (R)

Sen. Arlen Specter (R)

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th)

South Carolina

South Carolina Apartment Association

Sen. Jim DeMint (R)

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R)

Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr. (R-1st)

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-2nd)

Rep. J. Gresham Barrett (R-3rd)

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-4th)

Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-5th)

Rep. James Clyburn (D-6th)

Tennessee

Tennessee Apartment Association

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R)

Sen. Bill Frist (R)

Rep. William L. Jenkins (R-1st)

Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-2nd)

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-3rd)

Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-4th)

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-5th)

Rep. Bart Gordon (D-6th)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-7th)

Rep. John S. Tanner (D-8th)

Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-9th)

Texas

Austin Apartment Association

Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-10th)

Rep. Ron E. Paul (R-14th)

Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-21st)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-25th)

Rep. John R. Carter (R-31st)

Apartment Association of Greater Dallas

Sen. John Cornyn (R)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-3rd)

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-4th)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-5th)

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-24th)

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-26th)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-30th)

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-32nd)

Apartment Association of the Panhandle

Rep. William "Mac" Thomberry (R-13th)

Bryan College Station Apartment Association

Sen. John Cornyn (R)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)

Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-10th)

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-11th)

Rep. John R. Carter (R-31st)

Houston Apartment Association

Sen. John Cornyn (R)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)

Rep. Ted Poe (R-2nd)

Rep. John A. Culberson (R-7th)

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-8th)

Rep. Al Green (D-9th)

Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-10th)

Rep. Ron E. Paul (R-14th)

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-22nd)

Rep. Gene Green (D-29th)

Rep. John R. Carter (R-31st)

Lubbock. Apartment Association

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-11th)

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-19th)

San Antonio Apartment Association

Rep. Charlie Gonzales (D-20th)

Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-23rd)

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28th)

Texas Apartment Association

Sen. John Cornyn (R)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)

Utah

Utah Apartment Association

Sen. Robert Bennett (R)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R)

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-lst)

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-2nd)

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-3rd)
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