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Public Affairs & Advocacy

Through Public Affairs, MOR actively tracks policy issues in local, state, and national governments related to the ownership and transfer of property. Examples include zoning and subdivision, health and safety, design standards, impact fees, and affordability. MOR employs Public Affairs Director Dwight Easton to assist the committee’s volunteer efforts.

MOR endeavors to be a thought leader and trusted voice on issues impacting the development of a healthy, vibrant, and diverse community. MOR’s Board of Directors recently adopted updated Public Affairs Policy Guidelines and Position Statements which guide many issues facing our community. 

MOR Public Affairs Position Statements

Homeownership


MOR advocates for homeownership opportunities. Homeownership directly impacts neighborhoods, communities, and economic stability. We recognize the need for the production and rehabilitation of quality, safe, and affordable housing in our communities. All persons have a right to own real property and to exercise all the benefits of homeownership without undue encroachment or intrusion by government, groups, or individuals. 




Housing Affordability


Availability of housing for all income levels is necessary for balanced and healthy growth of Missoula and the success of our economy. Missoula County has a declining housing affordability index. Lack of housing supply drives up housing prices, placing homes out of reach of many Missoula families. We support simplifying subdivision and development process that encourages new housing construction and does not unnecessarily burden development and homeownership with additional expense.




Property Taxation


We support legislation that will lower real estate property tax rates to help maintain housing affordability. MOR supports an equitable, balanced tax and appraisal structure and responsible government spending. We encourage local governments to explore, utilize and exhaust all other options available for generating revenues. Costs associated with programs for the public good should be shared equitably by all members of the community, real estate should not be singled out to pay for programs and services that benefit the entire community.




Environment


MOR strongly supports the right of every Montanan, as enshrined in Montana’s Constitution, to a clean and healthful environment for present and future generations. We are in strong support of green initiatives and ordinances that make homes more environmentally friendly, without unnecessarily raising the cost of homeownership. Efforts to increase energy efficiency should be incorporated whenever possible to do so without creating undue burden upon property owners.




Planning


MOR supports simplified, flexible, and streamlined subdivision and zoning regulations; reflecting contemporary best practices which support development of our communities. We support policies that provide equitable incentives to address housing needs; however, we oppose mandatory programs including inclusionary zoning.




Impact/ Development Fee


MOR supports reasonable impact fees to defray the cost of providing public capital improvements which are directly attributable to a new development. MOR believes that impact fees ultimately increase the cost of housing, because these costs are passed to the consumer through increased lot and/or housing prices. Fees should not be used to correct existing deficiencies, to fund a disproportionate share of the cost of off-site improvements, or to deter development.




Public Lands


MOR supports a multi-use approach to the management of our public lands. We support a balance between recreational uses, wildlife habitat and use of natural resources to provide products used in development.




Subdivision Law


MOR supports, easily understandable subdivision laws and regulations that streamline the review process while providing objective review criteria and performance standards. Montana’s quality of life includes our river valleys, foothills, mountains, and a housing stock that meets market demand across a range of prices. We support subdivision laws and regulations that implement community growth policy, allowing for well-planned development and protection of our natural environment.




Inclusion and Non-Discrimination


MOR has an unwavering commitment to diversity that will ensure the highest level of respect inclusion and nondiscrimination. MOR requests Federal Fair Housing Laws and Montana Human Rights Act be updated and amended to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” consistent with the NAR Code of Ethics.




Private Property Right


MOR supports the rights of private property owners. These essential rights should be fully recognized in all government laws and regulations. 




Liability for Environmental Defects


MOR supports legislation that limits liability for all innocent parties associated with the sale or transfer of environmentally defective properties. 




Property Seizure


MOR believes that it is critical for any legislation addressing the forfeiture of real property because of illegal drug activity to contain language which protects the rights of innocent owners. 




Independent Contractor


MOR believes that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service qualifications are the maximum that should be imposed to qualify for Independent Contractor status. Real estate licensees are specifically exempt from the Montana Worker’s Compensation Act and are exempt as independent contractors from the Unemployment Compensation requirements.  




Banks' Involvement in Real Estate Brokerage


MOR strongly opposes expanding the authority of banks and bank holding companies to enable them to engage in real estate brokerage activities. MOR opposes any changes in Montana law that would grant state chartered financial institutions power which are not granted to federally chartered institutions or permit them to engage in real estate activities. 





The Purpose

REALTORS®, real estate industry professionals and citizens who own property must, of necessity, be involved in public affairs and community government and regulatory issues. Private property and homeownership are one of the most critical factors in shaping the community profile of Missoula and Western Montana. To ensure the quality of life, standards are improved or, at minimum, maintained, being proactive with a clear, balanced, all-inclusive vision is essential.

Conscious of this need, MOR provides a professional public affairs effort, coordinated by the MOR Public Affairs Director. This gives the importance of private property rights a face and a voice at meetings where decisions are made about land use and homeownership.

The Public Affairs Director meets with local government officials, community task forces, neighborhood groups, and individuals to gain and provide knowledge relating to homeownership, private property rights, and the quality of life in Missoula and Western Montana.

Government and Regulatory

The Public Affairs Director meets with local government officials, community task forces, neighborhood groups, and individuals to gain and provide knowledge relating to homeownership, private property rights, and the quality of life in Missoula and Western Montana.

MOR also has a significant political role in the local area. MOR interviews and supports candidates in elections, is actively involved with the Montana Association in addressing statewide legislation and regulation and stays in touch with the Montana Congressional delegation in Washington D.C. through efforts of the National Association of REALTORS®.