Advocacy Status Update 

Whether it is taking a closer look at tax reform or working to establish timeshare legislation in Puerto Rico, the efforts of ARDA’s federal and state affairs team continue to successfully advocate for the industry and vacation ownership.

Let’s check in with our Government Affairs team and see how the current legislative session is going.

SANDRA DEPOY 

A new year…a new Congress. ARDA Federal Affairs team is optimistic about the potential for President Trump, a Republican Senate and a Republican House to address some of the issues facing our Country and our industry. Issues like infrastructure spending, tax reform and immigration reform and regulatory reform remain among our top priorities. Here are a few key issues we will be monitoring closely as we begin the 115th Congressional cycle: 

  • Regulatory reform – efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank
  • Reorganization of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Immigration Reform
  • Data Privacy/Data Integrity
  • Natural Resources (Energy and water)
  • Government Reform
  • Transportation and Infrastructure

On a parallel track, the ARDA Government Affairs team will spend a substantial chunk of time getting to know new members of the House and Senate, as well as their respective staff on key Committees. This is looking to be a very busy first 100 days for the new Congress and for ARDA as well.

CHRIS STEWART  

Florida Update 

Florida has been a leader for the growth of timeshare since the industry’s early days. The state has been a bellwether for several developments in the industry’s product, structure and regulation. This has led to a significant status in the tourism and hospitality sector for more than three decades, and puts Florida at the forefront in dealing with lifecycle issues for older resorts. Among those problems are timeshare documents that call for the termination of a timeshare plan on a fixed date, or provide little direction regarding the operation of a resort following termination. Two years ago ARDA and ARDA-ROC supported a legislative change adding provisions for the termination, or extension of a timeshare plan when the documents are silent. 

During the 2017 legislative session, ARDA-ROC is seeking additional changes to the voting procedure for the extension of older timeshare plans. Most relevant among the proposed changes are an extension of the time period during which proxies for such a vote remain valid. This includes allowing a vote to be held at any properly-called and noticed meeting of the associations, as well as easing quorum requirements for a vote to extend. These changes intend to provide a more practical opportunity for viable resorts with satisfied owners to continue to enjoy the benefits of ownership. Some timeshare plans will terminate; however, the legislation also proposes to add some guidance for the management of resorts following termination. In many cases that will devolve to tenants in common under a condominium regime without any plan for use.

California Update 

During the 2015-2016 legislative session, ARDA and ARDA-ROC worked to either prevent or amend legislation that proposed the addition of a new $75 recording fee for any “Real estate instrument, paper, or notice”. Among the long list of documents included under this proposal would be notices related to liens and foreclosure. Unlike the previous bill an exemption has been added for documents recorded in relation to a transaction which is subject to a documentary transfer tax, meaning most sales documents would not be covered. The proceeds of the new fee are intended to support a laudable cause, such as affordable housing. However, many documents commonly recorded by associations would be subject to the new fee and timeshare associations will be disproportionally effected due to the greater number of owners than a comparable whole ownership association. 

The previous bill failed due to a requirement that any new revenue measure must receive a two-thirds approval vote in each chamber of the legislature. The majority party, which largely supports the bill, could not maintain a two-thirds margin. However, following the November election, they appear to have secured the required margin again and the bill has been refiled as Senate Bill 2. ARDA and ARDA-ROC are working with a variety of other real estate interests to either block, or amend the bill, though some version seems likely to pass. Amendment efforts are targeting both the fee amount seeking reduction to a proportional amount for timeshare recordings and limiting the types of documents subject to the fee. If passed as filed, timeshare associations would be faced with thousands of dollars in new costs annually. 

 JUSTIN VERMUTH 

South Carolina Update 

With much of the focus concentrating on the transition of power after a fascinating presidential election, quietly many key timeshare states have kicked off their 2017 legislative sessions. In South Carolina, ARDA-ROC moves to the forefront with a renewed effort to pass legislation for the protection of timeshare owners in the secondary market. This bill addresses deceptive business practices by those that claim to help timeshare owners sell, or transfer their ownership, but actually defraud those owners out of large sums of money for services never rendered. ARDA-ROC has now advocated for and passed similar legislation in nine states.

Hawaii Update  

In the Aloha State, after many consecutive years of proactive legislation, 2017 is shaping up to be a year that will focus on research and relationship building with some of the new officials in important timeshare related positions. The recent election resulted in some surprise upsets to folks that we have been working with for many years at the state and local level, but we are ready for the opportunity to share more about industry with these new faces in Hawaii this year.

ROBERT CLEMENTS 

Puerto Rico Update 

While many states begin their legislative sessions in January, Puerto Rico unexpectedly called special sessions at the end of 2016 to take up legislation affecting timeshare. In Puerto Rico, a proposed timeshare bill that ARDA worked on with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company passed the House, but failed to make it through the Senate in the regular session before it ended. The outgoing governor called a special session to take up several bills, but was unable to coordinate the legislative agenda with his own party. Consequently, the special session was chaotic, including several days in which a sufficient number of legislators were not present to reach a quorum. The bill was then taken up by the Senate in the special session and amended. However, many of the amendments were not acceptable to our members. The original sponsor of the bill agreed to object to the Senate’s amendments and attempted to call a conference committee in order to work out the differences with the Senate. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough votes from his own party to call the conference committee. The next day, the house decided to adjourn the special session early after voting that day. Without time to call a conference committee, our bill sponsor decided to vote for the bill as amended and readdress it in the regular session that began in January 2017. We will be working to have the bill amended in this 2017 legislative session.

U.S. Virgin Islands Update  

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, another unexpected special session was called by the Governor in December to take up his proposed legislation that would have imposed an “Environmental Impact Fee” on timeshare owners of $30 per day of occupancy. Not only was the special session unexpected, but the Governor did not give any advance notice of his intention to propose an impact fee on timeshare owners. Despite the lack of prior notice of the proposed legislation and a special session called with a few days of the announcement of the legislation, ARDA was able to convince the USVI Senate to reject the Governor’s legislation in a 14 to 0 vote. Nevertheless, the Governor has stated publically that he intends to reintroduce the legislation in this new 2017 legislative session. ARDA is working diligently with the Governor and Senators in this legislative session to have our proposed new timeshare legislation approved by the Senate, as well as to defeat or minimize any new impact fee or tax on timeshare.

Nevada Update 

In Nevada, the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) has held public workshops on the proposed timeshare regulations that ARDA drafted. The Commissioner of NRED is considering the public comments, will likely adopt the regulations soon, and will send them to the Nevada Legislative Council Bureau to approve. ARDA will continue to monitor this process and report any actions to its members.
 
 

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