State Roundup: Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma

June 1, 2003

Mississippi: Buy, sell, and vote

Since March, practitioners have been voluntarily wearing a Mississippi voter registrar hat under a program called Move the Vote. Practitioners fill out a voter registration form for their clients. At the closing, the clients sign the form and the practitioner mails it to the appropriate county government. It’s a way to register people who might otherwise have trouble finding the time to do it, says Quentin Whitwell, MAR government affairs director.

Montana: Staying in-state

The Montana Association of REALTORS® in late April helped inject fairness into a bill intended to soften property tax increases for full-time residents. Under the original bill, owner-occupied homes would’ve received a 40 percent tax increase exemption, and non-owner-occupied homes would’ve received only 18 percent. Now the homestead exemption, set at 36 percent, will apply to both groups of owners. The original tax distinction aimed to shift some of the tax burden to out-of-state second-home owners. But in fact many second homes in the state are owned by Montanans, says MAR.

New Hampshire: Making waves

The New Hampshire Association of REALTORS® has helped defeat a state bill, H.B. 454, that would’ve allowed municipalities veto power over the state permitting process for large groundwater withdrawals from aquifers. Had it been enacted, municipalities could potentially have halted growth by denying water withdrawals to proposed developments, says Kip Cooper, the association’s political affairs director. NHAR supports a bill to study how the state permits are issued and to explore how municipalities could be more involved in the process.

Oklahoma: Stamp it out

It’s small, 10 cents per $500 in property sales price, but it could set a bad precedent. That’s the view the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® is taking on a proposed increase in the state’s document stamp tax. The state legislature proposed the increase to fund historic sites and museums, which the Oklahoma Historical Society can no longer aid financially. OAR says it has nothing against museums and historical societies, but “we don’t want the government to see this tax as a source of revenue for the future,” says OAR’s Charla Bruce.

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