Government Affairs Committee
The Association’s Governmental Affairs Committee serves as the advocacy arm of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA) on legislative, regulatory and code matters affecting the homebuilding and remodeling industry. Through the efforts of the Committee and its Association lobbyists, Lynch & Fierro P.C., the HBRAMA has firmly established itself as a leading voice in the homebuilding and remodeling industry, and is a well-known and respected advocate for the housing and real estate industry throughout Massachusetts. Members of the Committee, all of whom are volunteer experts in their field, work to:
- Shape and influence housing and real estate industry policy and regulations at the federal, state and local levels;
- Advocate for balanced legislation which promotes the homebuilding industry as an economic engine of the economy;
- Educate our legislators and other state officials and agencies on issues impacting the housing and real estate industries;
- Inform our members about the constantly evolving federal, state and local legislative, regulatory, and code issues that may impact the homebuilding industry;
- Work to simplify the regulatory process, preserve and protect property rights, and advance the home building, remodeling and real estate industry in order to meet the housing needs of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its residents.
Through its Governmental Affairs Committee, the HBRAMA has saved its members thousands of dollars by fending off countless legislative efforts which impede the affordable production of housing, by advancing regulatory efforts to streamline state regulations, and by participating in code development in order simplify and maintain affordability in the building and remodeling process.
Government Affairs Committee Chair:
John T. Smolak, Esq., Smolak & Vaughan LLP
The Governmental Affairs Committee works in conjunction with its four subcommittees supported by volunteer member experts on a whole range of issues impacting the homebuilding and remodeling industry. These four subcommittees include:
- Zoning and Chapter 40B Subcommittee
- Wetlands and Water Resources Subcommittee
- Utilities Subcommittee
- Building and Energy Codes & Standards Subcommittee
The HBRAMA’s Governmental Affairs Committee, through its efforts and the efforts of its dedicated volunteer member subcommittees, has worked tirelessly to advocate for common sense reform of laws and regulations affecting the homebuilding and remodeling industries, and continues to work to protect the building and developing environment from the negative impacts of countless legislative, regulatory and code reform efforts.
The Utilities Subcommittee was created out of the long-term frustrations of HBRAMA members in the delay, cost, and unpredictability of working with the states electrical and natural gas utility companies in connection with both new construction and remodeling. Working closely with the Administration as well as with the Mass. Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the Subcommittee has:
- Brought utility companies to the table with State participation to communicate builder concerns over utility connections in the construction process;
- Continued to work with utility companies to implement measures designed to reduce cost, increase predictability, and eliminate delays in the installation and construction of natural gas and electric service to homes and subdivisions; and,
- Advocated for the development of utility web portals designed to provide builders with real-time progress on their constructions work orders.
Utilities Subcommittee Co-Chairs:
Mark H. Leff, Senior Vice President, Salem Five Bank
Russell C. Leonard, President, Leonard Electric, Inc.
Building and Energy Codes Subcommittee
The mission of the Building and Energy Codes Subcommittee is to monitor and participate in the code development process and any code-related legislative efforts that pertain to the home building and remodeling industry. Additionally the subcommittee keeps members informed of important code changes as they evolve in the building, energy and fire codes.
The subcommittee both leads and assists in coordinating the Association’s efforts regarding codes through the Government Affairs Committee and the Board of Directors. The subcommittee has
- Been very active through the entire adoption process of the 9th Edition Building Code that was adopted in late 2017.
- Recently filed a code change amendment to the 1&2 Family Dwelling Code regarding the removal of solar ready provisions that was successfully adopted.
- Worked to amend the International Residential Code that addresses windborne debris and adjust wind speed calculations which in most cases eliminates the need for impact resistant glazing.
- Fought against State Fire Code sprinkler changes which would have mandated costly sprinkler system installations in single and two-family homes.
Building and Energy Codes and Standards Subcommittee Chair:
Emerson Clauss III, Principal, Allegiance Construction & Development LLC
Wetlands and Water Resources Subcommittee
The Wetlands and Water Resources Subcommittee advocates for the reform and streamlining of federal, state and local regulations designed to advance housing production efforts, while at the same time, ensuring that a balanced approach is taken in the preservation of environmental quality. Over the past several years, the Subcommittee has successfully advocated on a number of important fronts. For example, the Subcommittee has:
- Successfully thwarted the efforts of the US Army Corps of Engineers to impose an arbitrary and expansive 750-foot development setback from wetland resources areas under the recently re-issued Massachusetts General Permit;
- Joined the National Association of Homebuilders in legal action against the US Environmental Protection Agency to oppose regulatory changes to the federal MS4 stormwater program which would have imposed costly changes on both the real estate industry and municipalities;
- Led efforts to advocate for State Title 5 regulatory reform which promises to lead to meaningful changes in design standards and modifications in septic system design flow so that larger housing developments do not have to build costly wastewater treatment plants, all in an effort to promote housing production.
Wetlands and Water Resources Subcommittee Chair:
Jeffrey A. Brem, P.E., President, Meisner Brem Corporation
Zoning and Chapter 40B Subcommittee
The Zoning and Chapter 40B Subcommittee advocates for common sense improvements to the Commonwealth’s Comprehensive Permit Law, and to secure legislative changes to zoning which advance housing production throughout the Commonwealth. Most recently, these efforts have:
- Successfully defended against wholesale zoning changes which would have significantly slowed the real estate development process;
- Worked with the Administration to promote housing choices legislative and program efforts to facilitate rezoning efforts at the local level;
- Advocated for and led the effort to enact legislation advancing the development of starter homes to meet market needs; and,
- Worked with State housing agencies to streamline the Chapter 40B permitting and approval process to advance affordable and market rate housing production.
Zoning and 40B Subcommittee Chair:
Mark A. Kablack, Esq., M.A. Kablack & Associates, P.C.
The Finance Committee prepares the HBRAMA annual budget for review and approval by the Board. The Committee meets from time to time as deemed necessary or appropriate for the financial welfare of the Association. The Treasurer serves as Chair.