Saturday, March 27, 2010

Appraisal Management Company Bill Advances in Florida House

On Friday, March 26, 2010, HB 303 passed the Florida House Government Operations Appropriations Committee with a unanimous vote. (The Staff Analysis link has not yet been updated with the vote tally).

The favorable vote is actually for a Committee Substitute (CS) bill. This is due to amendments suggested as a result of negotiations late Thursday evening. A group of opponents, including Bank of America and SunTrust, headed by a team from LPS (owners of LSI) posed a threat to the bill. LPS had been meeting with one of the members of the committee and she was leaning towards opposition. The Committee Chair suggested we meet and attempt to work things out.

After a nearly four hour meeting, changes were agreed to, an amendment drafted and sent to the committee staff for drafting. We shook hands in agreement close to 10:00 P.M.

Although the committee meeting started at 8:30 A.M, HB 303 was the last bill heard. Believing we had a deal, the proponents of the bill waived speaking in support. To our surprise, the LPS representative rose and spoke in opposition. After fielding questions from several of the committee members, including several stinging inquiries from Rep. Workman, a co-sponsor of the bill, the Chair weighed in.

Rep. Alan Hays, Chair of the Committee, had poked his head in on the negotiating meeting around 9:30 P.M. the night before. At that time, he asked how things were going and was pleased to hear we were all in agreement and had resolved a number of issues. When he addressed the LPS representative that was speaking in opposition, he reminded him of the comments made the night before, asked if they were true, and expressed his amazement at his change of mind and opposition to the deal he agreed to the night before.

There was no debate on the bill, and the vote was unanimous in favor.

If possible, express your gratitude to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Hudson, the cosponsors, Rep. Nehr and Rep. Workman. Include the Committee Chair, Rep. Hays and Committee member Rep. Wood.

Appraisers should also know the Florida Association of Realtors really stepped up to the plate on this one too. There were four FAR Legislative Team Staff members attending. Florida Realtors also facilitated the negotiating session on Thursday evening. This bill is one of their Legislative Priorities for 2010. Trey Goldman of FAR is really helping on this bill.

Here's the way Florida Realtors explain what happened:

The fourth week of this year’s legislative session will be remembered as the week when issues went from important to SERIOUS, starting with HB 303, the bill that requires Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) operating in Florida to register with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Twenty four hours before the bill was to be heard in the House Government Operations Committee, Florida Realtors learned that the bill might be Temporarily Postponed (likely killing it for 2010) unless agreement could be reached among the stakeholders (Florida Realtors, AMC’s and banks). The gap was not small. But locking 12 lobbyists, clients, appraisers and a Representative in a room built for six can — and did — produce results. A mere four hours later, at 9:30 p.m., an agreement was reached and a (late filed) amendment was drafted.

When the bill was heard in committee the next morning, a win-win was narrowly averted when the AMC representative rose to oppose the bill he helped write the previous evening! Fortunately, we had visited with every legislator on the committee or their aide prior to the meeting, and the Florida Realtors secured their half of the Win. It also helped that Realtors in the districts of the 13 members of the Committee responded to a last minute Call-To-Action.
Stay tuned.

Passing this committee was extremely important. It was the last meeting of the Government Operations Appropriations Committee for the 2010 Legislative Session. There is one more committee stop on the Florida House side. There is still work to do on the Senate side as well.