Public Policy Position Paper
Governments shall not arbitrarily infringe on the basic right of the individual to acquire, possess and freely transfer real property, and shall protect private property rights as referred to in the 5th and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution. Further, the Wyoming Constitution, Article 1, Sections 32 and 33 provide the following protections:
Sec. 32 Eminent domain. Private property shall not be taken for private use unless by consent of the owner, except for private ways of necessity, and for reservoirs, drains, flumes or ditches on or across the lands of others for agricultural, mining, milling, domestic or sanitary purposes, nor in any case without due compensation.
Sec.33 Compensation for property taken. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation.
Every person should have the right to acquire real property with confidence and certainty that the use or value of such property will not be wholly or substantially eliminated by governmental action at any level without just compensation or the owner's express consent.
We recognize the need for all levels of government to be able to exercise legitimate police powers in the regulation of private property to protect the health, safety and general welfare of its citizens. However, when government actions or regulations are not founded within legitimate police powers, the government should be required to pay compensation for the inordinate burden levied on the property owner.
In addition, we support legislation that provides property owners with expeditious access to administrative and judicial systems at all levels - local, state and federal - to pursue Fifth Amendment takings claims or relief from other property rights violations.
The discussion of eminent domain cuts across the mineral industry as well and it is critical that “knee jerk” reactions not cause harm to the mineral industry in Wyoming.
Much of the concern the Wyoming REALTORS® has is in the Urban Renewal Statute. NAR has developed a white paper on what should be included in any legislation. Included in that is actual compensation for all costs associated to the landowner and a clear definition of blight.
Subdivision Regulations & Impact Fees
Any indication that subdivision regulations should be used to stop development is in direct conflict with our positions. Likewise, we are very suspect on development or impact fees. During a past session a bill (which died) was introduced which would have required additional approval of subdivisions by school boards with land dedicated for a new school if the school board thought it might be needed. We are very opposed to additional constraints on developers.
The Wyoming REALTORS® believes that homeownership builds strong communities. REALTORS® in Wyoming don’t just sell homes, they sell communities.
Many cities and towns are in need of additional funding to upgrade their infrastructure (water lines, sewer & streets). Wyoming REALTORS® with assistance from NAR completed a public opinion poll in January of 2012. The key questions were centered on how cities and towns should be funded. A suggestion that the mineral severance cap should be changed was explored.
Wyoming REALTORS® is supportive of legislation that would give cities and towns a dedicated stream of funding other than sales tax.
Housing for the Elderly and Handicapped
We acknowledge actions taken by all levels of government to reduce impediments to handicapped and elderly persons in the acquisition of housing and urge REALTORS® to continue providing guidance for needed, cost-effective solutions to their housing needs.
We recognize the need in this nation to produce new affordable rental housing and preserve the current rental housing stock through recycling and renovation. We call on all levels of government to meet this demand by removing disincentives to the financing, production and improvement of rental housing for citizens of all income levels.
Owners of rental property should provide safe and decent housing for the needs of their rental occupants; rental occupants must recognize and accept their legal responsibility to maintain and care for the property and safety of their fellow occupants. The rights given each party under basic contract law should be enforced.
We encourage and support legislation as well as legal measures to prevent landlord-tenant ordinances injurious to the basic rights of private property ownership. We further support legislation that allows property managers to represent their clients in forcible entry and detainer actions in court.
Low Income Housing
Wyoming is fortunate to have good programs in place for first time and low income buyers. We support the continuation of these programs and urge the Wyoming Legislature to examine all facets of housing needs in Wyoming.
Work Force Housing
Communities are finding a lack of work force housing stock. Man camps do not develop communities and our energy workers deserve a place to call home and bring their families to live. We support legislation to assist communities in expanding infrastructure to new subdivisions that will provide affordable work force housing.
Communities across the country are reevaluating their planning and zoning ordinances. By utilizing “form based” zoning, cities are able to revitalize down town areas and give Generation X their preference of living where they work and play. Form-Base Code (FBC) is a relatively new and innovative method of managing growth and shaping development to achieve a specific urban form and mix of uses as preferred by a given community. Unlike conventional zoning, Form-Base Code addresses not only development but the relationship between public and private spaces such as the interaction between streets, blocks, and buildings in terms of form, scale and massing, and the use of frontage areas. FBC creates a predictable public realm by including specific standards for the design of streets and open spaces, and focusing primarily on the physical form of development, with a lesser focus on building use than conversional zoning regulations.
Point of Sale Energy Audits
While energy efficiency is important to home buyers, REALTORS® believe that the decision to improve the energy efficiency of a house should be left to the owners and not mandated by any governmental unit.
A growing, vibrant and diversified economy is critical to the well being of the State of Wyoming. The Wyoming REALTORS® encourages all levels of government to make Wyoming a business friendly state. We support the continued funding of the Wyoming Business Council and the Wyoming Business Ready Communities program. We oppose any unnecessary rules, regulations or ordinances that put road blocks in the way of economic growth.
Many communities have water and sewer systems that need repair, replacement or expansion to provide for new businesses, industry and homes. We support State funding adequate for municipalities to provide the basic services that are needed to grow their communities.
Wyoming is blessed with growing wealth because of our mineral industry. The tax revenues from the mineral industry pay the majority of taxes in Wyoming. With these types of funds available to the State, the Wyoming REALTORS® does not support the imposition of other personal taxation, including taxes on personal services or real estate transfer taxes.
Several proposals have been brought forth regarding real estate property taxation. With increasing property values in many areas of the State, some Wyoming residents, particularly the elderly are facing skyrocketing property taxes on their homes. Wyoming has enacted a property tax relief program that is being utilized throughout the state. In 2005, the legislature increased the income levels and the asset limits to allow more people to take advantage of the program. Wyoming currently has three tiers of property taxation as provided in Article 15, Section 11 which states:
Uniformity of assessment required.
(a) All property, except as in this constitution otherwise provided, shall be uniformly valued at its full value as defined by the legislature, in three (3) classes as follows:
(i) Gross production of minerals and mine products in lieu of taxes on the land where produced;
(ii) Property used for industrial purposes as defined by the legislature; and
(iii) All other property, real and personal.
(b) The legislature shall prescribe the percentage of value which shall be assessed within each designated class. All taxable property shall be valued at its full value as defined by the legislature except agricultural and grazing lands which shall be valued according to the capability of the land to produce agricultural products under normal conditions.
The Wyoming legislature has considered a variety of constitutional amendments that would separate residential real estate as a fourth tier. The Wyoming REALTORS® supports any measure that will give homeowners the ability to stay in their homes with reasonable and affordable property taxes.
Sales Tax on Services
Many States have looked to make up budget shortfalls by enacting a tax on personal services. This is extremely detrimental to the home buying process, as an additional tax could be imposed on the cost of the appraisal, the title insurance, the homeowners insurance, and the real estate agent commission.
Real Estate Transfer Tax
Wyoming has had legislation introduced off and on to allow counties to impose a real estate transfer fee, or sales tax on real estate, over the past 20 years. Each time the legislation has failed, but as cities, towns and counties continue to look for additional funding mechanisms, the legislation keeps coming back.
WAR opposes any type of real estate transfer tax and private transfer fees. We will continue to monitor the temperature of the legislature regarding a constitutional amendment to permanently ban real estate transfer taxes.
Gross Receipts Tax
The Wyoming Joint Legislative Revenue committee looked at a gross receipts tax in 2017. This is a pyramiding tax that we strongly OPPOSE.
Wyoming REALTORS® is opposed to any measure to repeal the licensing requirements of property managers beyond those already available, i.e. onsite manager, owner or employee of the owner.
Wyoming is one of a handful of States that does NOT publicly disclose sales prices on real estate. The statement of consideration completed and filed with the Deed is kept confidential by the Clerk and Assessor unless there is a tax evaluation protest. Then the sales price of those properties in used for valuation by the Assessor along with any other like properties in the same area may be disclosed to the property owner filing the protest. Wyoming REALTORS® has not taken a position on whether it should be public or kept confidential. This policy has been discussed and debated several times including surveys of the membership. Because the membership is almost evenly split on the issue, NO POSITION has been taken.