Monday Morning Briefing Letter - 05/10/2004 (Plain Text Version)
By Bobby Rayburn, NAHB President and
Highlights of our Spring Board Meeting
in Washington last week include final tallies for National Membership Day and NAHB's Legislative Conference, a candid report on GSE legislation by Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), a great turnout for the NAHB Family Build, the announcement of a new scholarship fund, an important initiative to address the General Liability Insurance issue, and more.
National Membership Day was a great success, with 7,195 new members recruited during our live webcast event! Membership Committee Chair Duane Bickett told the Board after Monday's campaign that a total of 350 state and local associations participated this time around, with HBAs from Florida, Michigan, California and Maine taking top honors for their 100% participation rates. Florida also again topped the list for statewide recruitment efforts, while the HBA of King and Snohomish Counties set an all-time record for local recruitment by pledging 300 new members! Congratulations to all of the above, and special thanks to our exclusive sponsor, Sears Contract Sales, whose generosity has made it possible for us to issue every NAHB member an official Membership Card. The card (at right) will provide improved access to exclusive NAHB member benefits and discounts, and will be mailed to you this summer. Contact Emily Fitzsimmons (x8354) for details.
NAHB's Spring Legislative Conference resulted in a powerful show of force on Capitol Hill, with more than 700 of our members participating in nearly 350 individual meetings with Members of Congress. Participants lobbied NAHB positions on our top legislative issues — GSEs, the homeownership tax credit, association health plans and zero downpayment mortgages. Thanks to all who participated — you can be sure you made a difference. Congress listens to constituents! Contact NAHB Legislative Affairs at x8470 for more.
Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, proved himself a true friend of housing when he spoke on the GSE oversight issue before our Executive Board last week. His efforts to craft fair and balanced legislation on the regulatory structure for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks have generally been in line with NAHB goals, and we very much appreciated the Senator's candid remarks. Contact NAHB Legislative Affairs (x8470) for details.
A heartwarming Family Build event coordinated by NAHB's First Lady, Annette Rayburn, took place during the week of our Board of Directors meeting. NAHB Senior Officers and their wives joined with several Congressmen, DC Mayor Anthony Williams, students from the Home Builders Institute, and NAHB staff and family volunteers to work alongside Charlissa Tomlinson, a Special Police Officer with the DC Public Schools, and her three children as they built their new home from the ground up. A great video of the event, produced by the NAHB Production Group and shown to the Board on Sunday, captured many of the most humorous moments during the build and emphasized how much fun you can have while participating in such an event. Many thanks to all those who helped!
Helping Job Corps graduates transition to full-time jobs is the mission of a new scholarship fund announced at the Spring Board meeting by the Home Builders Institute (HBI) and NAHB member Lowe's Home Improvement. The HBI Lowe's Building Careers Scholarship Fund was officially kicked off with a $50,000 check presented by Tom Morrow, Lowe's Director of Commercial Sales. Contact HBI at 202-266-8999 for more information.
Improving builder access to affordable general liability insurance is the aim of a critical data-gathering initiative announced during the Spring Board meeting. NAHB is partnering with the Marsh insurance services firm to collect as much information as possible from builders in order to facilitate the development of new GLI products for our members. Please go to www.nahb.org/gli to get all the details and help in this effort. Contact: Clayton Traylor (x8490).
Two new donors to the National Housing Endowment, NAHB's philanthropic arm, were recognized by the Board of Directors last week. 1988 NAHB President and Endowment Chairman Dale Stuard honored Countrywide Financial Corp. and its Chairman and CEO, Angelo Mozilo, for their Life Trustee gift of $1 million. Also honored were 2002 NAHB President Gary Garczynski and his wife, Jane, for becoming Founding Advocates of the Endowment with their generous six-figure gift. The National Housing Endowment has raised over $16 million and awarded almost $5 million in grants to industry-related programs and projects since its inception. Contact Julie Wheeler at x8483 for details.
The 2004 Robert J. Corletta Award for Achievement in Affordable Housing was bestowed upon Stillman D. Knight, Jr., FHA's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily and a longtime NAHB member. This prestigious award is cosponsored by the Neighborhood Development Collaborative and NAHB's Multifamily Council. Congratulations, Stillman!
Stay tuned for more highlights of NAHB's Spring Board of Directors meeting in weeks ahead. There are simply too many to list at once!
A Supreme Court victory for builders
came NAHB's way during Spring Board week, when we got word that the Court upheld a provision of the Clean Air Act that regulates new construction equipment. In doing so, the Court agreed with NAHB's friend-of-the-court brief in which we and our coalition partners had argued that the law does not allow state and local governments to adopt new motor vehicle emissions standards — as authorities in L.A. have been trying to do for several years now. This solid victory for NAHB and the construction industry should help curtail the national trend of overreaching air quality regulations on construction equipment, allowing manufacturers to meet demand and keep their equipment prices down. Contact Mary Lynn Pickel at x8485. [return to top]
NAFTA to domestic lumber producers: Your claims are baseless!
Yet another win for builders was unveiled during Spring Board week when a NAFTA panel said for the second time that the domestic lumber industry's allegations of injury caused by imported Canadian softwood are baseless and contrary to law. The ruling goes against a previous ITC decision that led to countervailing and anti-dumping duties averaging 27% on Canadian lumber shipments. This is a particularly important turn of events, because NAFTA appeals panels have essentially the same authority as U.S. appeals courts — so the Bush Administration must honor the decision. And while the U.S. could still attempt some legal maneuvers to keep this case alive, NAHB will strongly oppose such action. Contact Michael Carliner for details at x8376 or read our press release. [return to top]
Hatchery fish must be counted in ESA listing decisions,
according to an upcoming proposed rulemaking announced by the government on April 29. This is a significant development for NAHB members because many salmon subpopulations in the Northwest might not be considered "endangered" if hatchery fish were included in their total counts. The welcome win was in part brought about by NAHB legal and regulatory efforts. Moreover, court action by the BIA of Washington State will result in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) having to act on this latest win almost immediately. In effect, NMFS must decide by May 30 whether to de-list eight salmon subpopulations based on its previous failure to consider hatchery fish when designating those salmon as "endangered." Contact Duane Desiderio for more at x8146. [return to top]
Communicating our views on critical habitat reform
to the House Resources Committee on April 28, home builder and developer Don Walters Jr. expressed NAHB's general support for H.R. 2933, the "Critical Habitat Reform Act of 2003," but also our concerns about certain aspects of the bill. Don, who is president of the Northern Arizona HBA, testified on NAHB's behalf that several provisions in H.R. 2933 offer a real legislative solution to the current crisis regarding critical habitat designations. However, he cautioned, a requirement in the bill linking those designations to the recovery planning process may unintentionally create a new litigation threat and place a higher regulatory burden on landowners. Read more in our press release, or contact Jason Lynn at x8307 for details. [return to top]
Check out these great new features on NAHB's Web site:
Resolutions and Recommendations adopted as NAHB policy
at the latest Board of Directors meeting are now available for viewing via an online summary page. The page also provides direct links to the full-text of each resolution. Approved resolutions this time around dealt with age restrictions on FHA-insured rental properties, OSHA hearing conservation rules, EPA storm water enforcement actions, submetered water systems and other subjects. Contact Jay Shackford (x8406) for more information. [return to top]
New-home sales broke all previous records in March
according to the latest government data, released April 26. The Commerce Department reported a nearly 9% gain from an already strong February number to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 1.23 million units. This was up almost 22% from year-ago sales. More good news: NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders says even though interest rates are beginning to rise as the economy improves, we can still expect plenty of strength to remain in the housing market because all the fundamentals — including household incomes, employment and household formations — are doing well. Meanwhile, the inventory of unsold new homes hit a low 3.7-month supply in March, indicating that the supply-demand balance in the new-homes market is quite healthy. Read our press release. [return to top]
For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.NAHB.org | ©2004, National Association of Home Builders