GOP lawmakers laud Realtors' legislative role

Hank Hayes • Jun 10, 2014 at 10:51 PM

GRAY — Northeast Tennessee Republican lawmakers acknowledged the political clout of Realtors Tuesday during the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) annual legislative luncheon.

"A lot of times the most important things you do are keeping bills from passing as opposed to passing bills," Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, himself a Realtor, told about 80 Realtors at NETAR's headquarters. "I am (a Realtor). I understand these personal relationships."

Ramsey, R-Blountville, said legislation requiring a surveyor review on every piece of sold property, in addition to "several bad" landlord-tenant bills, were either put on hold or turned away by the Tennessee Association of Realtors (TAR).

One bill that passed, said Ramsey, was a measure honoring existing leases on sold properties.

Ramsey gave a tribute to the TAR government relations team, including lead lobbyist Russ Farrar and Dustin Goforth, Ramsey's son-in-law.

"They do a fantastic job representing Realtors," Ramsey said of the TAR team.

State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, told Realtors they understand the economy ahead of everyone else.

"You know the ground truth of it. ... We rely on that kind of expertise when we're setting policy," Lundberg told the group.

The NETAR luncheon also featured some political campaigns in the works.

Outgoing state Rep. Kent Williams, I-Elizabethton, was at the NETAR luncheon to pitch his sister, Judy Veeneman, being elected to his House District 4 seat. She faces Republican John Holsclaw Jr. in the August GOP primary.

"She knows the ins and outs of what it takes to be a state representative," Williams, who is running for county mayor in Carter County, said of Veeneman.

Williams, who was kicked out of the Tennessee Republican Party after being elected House speaker in 2009 with the help of 49 Democrats, also pointed out he put aside political differences with others to pass state budgets with no tax increases during difficult economic times.

Another speaker was state Rep. David Hawk, a Greeneville Republican facing a GOP primary battle against Ted Hensley, a Realtor and Greene County commissioner, in House District 5.

"We are a low-tax, low-debt state. That's what you all have asked us to do," Hawk said of Realtors' input on state government's fiscal policy.

With foreclosures and interest rates down, NETAR says home sales are trending upward as well as new home construction.

"The market for sellers this year is healthier in some ways than it has been in five years," NETAR President Louie Leach noted.

Still, Ramsey pointed out the housing market isn't doing as well as it could.

"I do think the banking regulation on the federal level has held down housing," Ramsey observed. "With interest rates as low as they are, historically low, you would think the market would be booming, but it's not. It's a combination of banking and the fear or uncertainty of the future by the people."

For more about NETAR go to www.netar.us.

For more about TAR go to www.tarnet.com.

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