Advocacy. It is one of the required core standards for a local Realtors® Association, and possibly the most important. Every year during the Florida Legislative Session, Realtors® from across the state descend upon Tallahassee to advocate on behalf of the real estate industry. With a budget battle between the House and the Senate looming in the distance, March 27th-29th was the perfect opportunity for Realtors® to unify and make their voices heard.
Last October a select group of Realtors®, the Florida Realtors® leadership and local association staff met to prioritize the issues important to Realtors®. The conversation started off with the big picture, “What issues do Realtors® face on a daily basis?” From that question, the Legislative Strategy Session members agreed on the four most important issues to Realtors®; a reduction in the business rent sales tax, capping unreasonable fees for estoppel certificates, increase funding of the state and local housing trust funds, and support a permanent property tax cap on second homes & commercial properties.
From there, the Florida Realtors® Public Policy team took over and got work finding sponsors for bills to address these issues. Before the beginning of Session, the bills had sponsors from key committee members with the hopes of the bills moving smoothly through the process. Enter the Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches delegation.
The group was a mix of Board of Directors, Florida Realtors® Directors, Leadership Academy members and staff; all with the single goal of advocating for Realtor® issues to our State Representatives and Senators. During each meeting, members gave personal testimonials on each issue to put a story behind the bill number. RAPB Central Vice President Carlos Melendez drew praise from Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) with his experience dealing with an outrageous estoppel certificate fee during a closing; “That is a story I’ll use when debating this bill” Sen. Clemens said.
The trip was capped off with the “Taste of Florida” block party in downtown Tallahassee and a Major Investor luncheon with a keynote speech by current Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and rumored 2018 gubernatorial candidate, Adam Putnam. Members also got a surprise visit from Rep. Rick Roth (R-Jupiter) at President John Slivon’s reception on Monday night. RAPB members enjoyed the numerous events hosted by Florida Realtors® and came home knowing that they were heard, as one unified voice.