Illinois REALTOR® Magazine  | October 2012
By Mike Scobey | Assistant Director, Advocacy and Local Issues
So far, in 2012 the Illinois Association of REALTORS®’ team of local Government Affairs Directors (GADs) has been very busy dealing with local issues and proposed ordinances. Many of these proposals directly involve real property rights and the regulation of our industry. With some proposals, we are purely in defensive mode. With others, we are constructive players in the development of sound public policy.
The RVOICE Program enables us to go the extra mile when “Fighting For You.” Here are some recent examples:
An example of the “playing defense” mode is an issue that surfaced at the Cook County Board of Commissioners in June. A proposed ordinance would make Section 8 voucher holders a protected class under the county’s human rights ordinance. This means that a landlord or broker could not decline a rental application from a voucher holder purely on the basis of the applicant being in the Section 8 program. This proposal would apply in all of suburban Cook County. IAR opposes this, asserting that it should be the owner’s right to make the choice on participation in the federal program.
The RVOICE program went to work to mobilize our members and landlords on this proposal. A postcard alerted recipients to the issue and urged them to contact their county commissioner and request a NO vote on the proposal. This issue is still pending before the county board (as of this writing), but IAR will remain diligent in its opposition.
Sometimes, when new regulations are developed, IAR can play a constructive role to protect property rights and provide quality input on ideas for new laws. That’s what happened in Will County where officials planned a comprehensive re-write of the county’s zoning ordinance. The county wanted to adopt several energy-conservation measures for new building construction. Using NAR funds for a legal review, the local GAD, Tom Joseph, was able to promote alternative measures that included tiered incentives for developers who adopt high-density, environmentally-friendly building plans. Nearly all the REALTOR® recommendations that came from the expertise of the legal review and expressed by the GAD and the Three Rivers Association were eventually adopted by the county board.
At other times, RVOICE funding is used for education on public policy that is important to property owners. Recently, IAR sent a mailing to homeowners in the village of Chatham which explained why it might be in their best interest to have the zoning on their duplex homes changed to the single-family classification. That change would make FHA financing (for the next purchaser) easier. REALTORS® in the area promoted the idea to their clients and homeowners.
Information provided through IAR’s advocacy program can be very important to property owners as well as to buyers and sellers. The RVOICE program has informational brochures for members and consumers on topics including:
This is just some of the information we offer. Go to www.illinoisrealtor.org/rvoice  to view a full list of resources available. On this site, you can also see the various “GAD Battles” on local issues in your region.