Legislative Bulletin: Priority Legislation Moves as Lawmakers Return to Albany
Staffing Ratios Considered
With budget season and a two-week recess officially in the books, the Legislature returned to Albany on Monday for the second half of session. Lawmakers quickly got back to work introducing and debating various pieces of legislation, including the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act”. The bill was on the Assembly Health Committee’s agenda on Tuesday, where it was debated and ultimately moved to Assembly Codes. The main question among legislators opposing the bill was “why move the bill before a study is conducted”. It’s well known that the final SFY 2019-2020 Budget requires DOH to conduct a study to examine how nurse staffing enhancements and other initiatives could improve patient safety and quality. Lawmakers and opposers of the bill feel there is not enough evidence to prove that staffing ratios would actually improve quality outcomes. While the movement of the bill is surprising, it’s not overly concerning given that the majority of lawmakers will likely await the results of the study before passing anything in the Assembly or the Senate.
TBI-DD Integration Bill Moves in the Senate
In looking ahead to next week, the Senate Health Committee will be reviewing several bills relating to adult care facilities and nursing homes. Most notable of these is the TBI-DD Integration bill, now being carried by its new Senate sponsor Mike Ranzenhofer. S.4805 (Ranzenhofer) is a priority bill for LeadingAge New York that would enable individuals with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained after the age of 21 to access developmental disabilities (DD) services. The bill was formerly carried by Senator Cathy Young who has since retired from the Senate.
Click here to urge your Senator and other lawmakers to pass the TBI-DD Integration bill! If your Senator is a member of the Senate Health Committee, be sure to let them know that you support TBI-DD Integration!
Seven Weeks Left of Session
Though it may be difficult to believe, there is only seven weeks left in the 2019 Legislative Session. Unfortunately, some of our key legislation related to the role of the nurse in adult care facilities (ACFs), an increase in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) State supplement, and Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) revitalization remained stagnant this week. LeadingAge New York continues to closely monitor the committee agendas and will keep members apprised of any updates. Don’t forget to stay engaged! Your continued advocacy and communications to lawmakers will help to ensure that these bills be addressed and move through committees.
LeadingAge New York is organizing an extensive series of meetings in Albany, urging law makers to co-sponsor the CCRC Revitalization Act and our Affordable Independent Senior Housing Assistance Program legislation. As always, we will need your advocacy to highlight the importance of these initiatives. Click on any of the links above to send your lawmakers a message, urging them to make these issues a priority for the remainder of the 2019 session!
NYC Hosts First Assembly Rent Regulation Hearing
On Thursday, May 2, the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Housing held a hearing to examine the status of rent-regulated housing and how to safeguard the remaining rent-regulated housing stock. The protection and preservation of rent-regulated housing has become a focus for the Assembly as rent regulation laws are set to expire on June 15, 2019 and will need to be renewed before then to keep their regulated status.
Over the course of nine hours, members of the Assembly Housing Committee and other Assembly Members, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, heard from various groups including organizations that represent tenants and support rent regulation; landlords, management, and real estate companies that claim that any strengthening of rent control laws will be extremely detrimental to their business; and many tenants who have lived in rent regulated housing for most if not all of their life who spoke to the mounting difficulties they face as tenants in regulated apartments.
The arguments made by the landlords, management, and real estate companies were largely met with skepticism from the Assembly Members, while the tenants and the groups there to support them made impassioned pleas to the Members to protect them from unscrupulous landlords by strengthening rent control laws. Tenants and their advocates largely focused on advocating for a package of tenant protection bills released by the Assembly on April 9, 2019, available here. Once published, video of the proceedings from yesterday’s hearing will be posted here.
The Assembly will be following up with two additional hearings that are being held in Albany and Rochester. These hearings will more broadly examine rental housing across the State and what changes may be necessary to safeguard affordable housing stock. The hearing in Albany will be on Thursday, May 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building. The Rochester hearing will be held on Friday, May 10 at 11:00 a.m. at the Monroe County Office Building.
LeadingAge New York is closely following these hearings and rent regulation legislation as we believe that provisions that had been proposed, but not enacted, in the budget could inadvertently affect senior housing. More specifically, there has been talk of placing limits on security deposits. If such legislation were written too broadly it could impact business models of market rate senior housing providers. Fortunately, legisltion suggesting a limit on security deposits has not yet been introduced. A memo on this issue can be found here.
One Week until Senior Housing NOW Rally
LeadingAge and other housing advocates like you will be gathering on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to rally around one simple goal: expand and preserve affordable housing for older adults. The Senior Housing NOW Rally will take place on May 8th from 1-2pm and will feature several speakers on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol Grounds. LeadingAge has provided a Senior Housing NOW FAQ sheet as well as a link to register.
The trip to Washington also poses a great opportunity to schedule meetings with your representatives. When constituents show up to rally and advocate for the issues that matter most, congress takes notice. We hope that you will join us on May 8th!
Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Year 15 and the Right of First Refusal
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program was established in 1986 and made permanent in 1993. The spirit of the program is to promote the development of affordable housing for low-income households. Through the program, private investment in affordable housing is encouraged by guaranteeing that an owner of a qualifying LIHTC project that has partnered with a non-profit will receive tax credits for a fifteen-year “Compliance Period”. Because the goal of the program is to create more affordable housing, at the end of the 15-year Compliance Period, the non-profit partner in an LIHTC project has a contractual right of first refusal to purchase the property at the statutory minimum price. The “statutory minimum price” is most often considered to be any outstanding debt owed plus taxes, and usually falls below the fair market value of the property. In light of the program’s intended goal of creating more affordable housing, many private partners who are engaged in LIHTC deals accept the statutory minimum price to promote the goals of the program.
In recent years, many LIHTC projects have begun to reach the end of their 15-year Compliance Period, and the non-profit party must decide whether to pursue the right of first refusal. In several cases, the non-profit party’s attempt to exercise their right of first refusal has been deemed insufficient for a variety of reasons. If the non-profit party is unable to exercise their right of first refusal, there is a likelihood that the private partner will take control of the project and turn the units market rate.
This is an issue that both LeadingAge New York and LeadingAge National are following very closely. To date, there have been only a hand full of court cases that cover this issue, and they have had mixed results. As more properties near the end of this 15-year term, we expect to see many more cases over the next several years. In order to prepare our members for Year 15, we are hosting a session on this topic at the LeadingAge New York Annual Conference & Exposition. The session is entitled “What Now? LIHTC Property Dispositions at Year 15” and will feature Jim Bowman, the former President and CEO of the National Affordable Housing Trust, as the speaker. This session will be held on Tuesday, May 21 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and will include a presentation, a moderated discussion, and a question and answer session with the audience.
Additionally, if you are considering developing affordable housing and would like to learn more about the LIHTC program, you may be interested in attending “Low Income Housing Tax Credits 101” on Wednesday, May 22 from 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. There are many other valuable education and networking opportunities at the LeadingAge NY Annual Conference that you won’t want to miss! Click here for a complete list of programming and click here to register today. We hope to see you there!
Pelosi, Schumer and Trump Push for Major Infrastructure Deal
President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders gathered on Tuesday morning to discuss ambitious infrastructure plans. This meeting was more amicable than those in the past, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the President agreed on a $2 trillion infrastructure package. Schumer said the two sides agreed that infrastructure investments create jobs and make the United States more competitive economically with the rest of the world.
It’s clear that both sides wanted a big, bold plan. Now, the looming question is, how will congress pay for it? There is sure to be disagreement on that topic, though Senate and House republicans are reserving comment until a payment plan is ready. One thing is certain - the outcome of this deal will be influential in the 2020 Congressional and Presidential races.
Ami Schnauber, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-867-8854
Sarah Daly, email@example.com, 518-867-8845