April 2015
Supported By
April 2015
Builders Voice Concerns over Expanded Floodplain Definition
Randy Noel describes the extent of the 100- and 
500-year floodplain in Laplace, LA
(NAHB, Washington DC) - Home builders, HBA staff, and NAHB staff and leadership voiced the concerns of our industry loud and clear during the first two listening sessions on newly unveiled Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Implementation Guidelines.

The issue: President Obama's recent Floodplain Management Executive Order revisions place significant restrictions on federally approved or funded projects and greatly expand the areas to be protected as flood hazard areas.

But how that plays out is still unclear.

On March 3, Iowa home builders andHBA of Iowa staff convened in Ames to raise concerns regarding the regulatory scope of the executive order, the lack of scientific data and economic analysis supporting the new flood risk standard, and the potential for increased regulatory confusion stemming from the new floodplain definitions...

CONTINUE ARTICLE...
Associate Spotlight: Max Ward, USI Insurance Services, LLC
Max Ward
USI Insurance Services, LLC
3850 N. Causeway Blvd
Metairie, LA 70002
o: 504.355.5036
c: 504.723.6845
We are the fastest growing insurance broker and consulting firm to middle market companies in the United States. We have more than 4,200 dedicated, experienced and innovative professionals within 140 offices located throughout the United States. We offer a unique consultant base Risk Management strategy, utilizing our ONE Advantage Process. The One Advantage uses our proprietary analytical database to assist our local and national experts that meet on a weekly basis to address our clients insurable risk and provided our clients with customized coverage options to protect their assets. Our ONE Advantage Process adds value to our clients which is why we are the fasting growing Insurance Brokerage in the United States. We show our clients the What "Companies Risk", the Why "financial impact of risk" and offer the How "innovative solutions that protect our clients company best". 

I love working for USI because we deliver on our promise to Understand our clients issues, provided Service that add value and offer solutions that Innovate.

USI is the 3rd largest commercial P&C privately owned broker in the U.S. We are the #1 employee benefit broker and enrollment services provider in the U.S. We are top 10 in retirement consulting services.

USI Understand Service Innovate
Legislative Recap
The past month was a busy one for the HBA legislative/regulatory staff and board members. From attending a FEMA listening session in Biloxi and providing public comment on a floodplain management Executive Order, to the City of Gretna's vinyl siding ban, to arranging a Legislative Meet and Greet for our members and state legislators, we've been on high alert for policy pronouncements that impact home building. 


 

Executive Order 13960

On January 30, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order 13690, "Floodplain Management," to amend Executive Order 11988, signed in 1977 in an effort to improve the Nation's resilience to current and future flood risk. Since 1977, "floodplain" has been defined as "the lowland and relatively flat areas adjoining inland and coastal waters including flood prone areas of offshore islands including flood prone areas of offshore islands, including, at a minimum, that area subject to a one percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year. " The new Executive Order now requires federal agencies to expand their flood plain oversight from the current base flood elevation (BFE) associated with the 100-year floodplain to a higher elevation and a more expansive area. There are now three approaches for establishing Federal Floodplains: utilizing the best-available, actionable hydrologic and hydraulic data and methods that integrate current and future changes in flooding based on climate science; freeboard, an additional two feet shall be added to the BFE, or three feet for critical actions defined as any activity for which even a slight chance of flooding is great; and a 500-year flood elevation.

 

The NAHB published this in-depth analysis of the Executive Order and describes all three approaches to Federal Floodplain management here: NAHB: Floodplain Executive Order

 

NAHB, HBAGNO, and other organizations remain actively engaged in the public comments FEMA hosted around the nation to give guidance on the Executive Order. Unfortunately, FEMA did not have much information to give to the public and, in turn, created great concern about the potential ill-effects of the Executive Order. Industry leaders requested an extension to the window allotted for public comment for an additional 60 days, which was granted.
We encourage our members to learn more about the Executive Order and submit public comment directly to FEMA's website, via this link. regulations.gov

Local Issues: Vinyl Siding Ban, City of Gretna
The past Legislative recap addressed the City of Gretna and the potential vinyl siding ban that was brought forth by Councilmember Marino. Unfortunately, the ordinance was passed in a 3-2 vote, whereby use of vinyl siding is banned in the Gretna Historic district on new residential construction. It remains our position that outright blanket bans on perfectly acceptable, code-compliant building materials is bad public policy, both for our industry and the home buying consumers that we service. We will continue to monitor the effects of this and other restrictive policies that impede our ability to do our work. For more on this issue, please click on the attached articles: 

Gretna bans vinyl siding on new homes in historic districts

and 

Gretna vinyl siding ban: Is the issue about preservation or property rights?

Legislative Meet and Greet
The HBA's Legislative and PAC committees will be hosting a Legislative Meet and Greet at Sake Café, 2830 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115, on April 9, 2015 from 6:00pm -9:00pm. We encourage our members of the HBA to attend this event and engage your state legislators before they go head to Baton Rouge April 13th to convene the 2015 Louisiana Legislative session. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, please email or call Rita Bautista, [email protected] or 504.837.2700.
 

Higher Wages: When & Why?
Elliot Eisenberg
Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at [email protected]. His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at www.econ70.com. 


 

Last year 3.2 million net new jobs were created, the best performance since 2000, and total employment is now several million higher than it was before the recession began.  In addition, the unemployment rate which is 5.7% continues to fall and should be at or near 5% by year end, a level economists consider full employment.  All of this good news, yet serious problems remain.  The labor force participation rate (LFRP) is at levels last seen in 1978, which makes the unemployment rate look better than it really is and after adjusting for inflation, wages have been declining for years.  What is going on?    


 

The LFPR peaked at 67.3% in January 2000 and had had already fallen to 66% by the start of the Great Recession in January 2008, suggesting that other forces beyond the weak economy were already at work pushing it down.  That said, by the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, the LFPR was down just half-of-one-percentage-point to 65.5%.  Normally, it then would have started rising as the improving economy pulled unemployed workers back into the labor force from the ranks of the unemployed.  Instead, the LFPR went into free fall, hitting a low of 62.8% in October 2013 where it has remained since. 


 

The decline in the LFPR from 66% to 62.8% not only represents a loss of four and a half million workers, but also has no historic precedent.  That said, much of the decline was inevitable.  About half the decline is due to demographics.  That is the number of Baby Boomers who are retiring is currently vastly outpacing the number of new entrants into the labor market.  Exacerbating this trend is that today's youngsters are better educated and thus spend longer in school than earlier generations, further delaying their entrance into the world of work.


 

Another quarter of the decline is due to the severity of the recent recession, and the remaining 25% decline is simply unexplained.  These might be people who are obtaining additional education, receiving disability insurance and may or may not work again, those who have become unemployable and those who simply gave up.  Whatever the cause, knowing how many people in this category return to work is critical to understanding what lies ahead.  


 

Some have returned, some will return and some will never return.  However, no matter what happens to those persons, close to 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day.  As a result, the fact that the LFRP has not fallen since October 2013 suggests these discouraged workers are returning.  Were that not the case, the LFRP would have continued falling.  So flat really is the new up!


 

Looking to the future, the greater the number of these discouraged workers who return to the labor force, the slower the decline in the unemployment rate will be, the higher the LFRP will be but perhaps most importantly, the slower wage growth will be.  And that's the kicker.  By contrast, if discouraged workers stop returning to the labor force, the unemployment rate will fall faster and wages will start rising more quickly but it would also mean that millions of previously employed persons have given up on work and that is very bad. 


 

Ideally, discouraged workers will continue returning and wages will remain flat for a while longer but will eventually start rising.  Unfortunately, my guess is that relatively few discouraged workers who have not yet returned will.  As a result, expect wage growth to start rising sooner, probably by year end.
Time Time - Time to Save
Tax time is here and it is important to remember to contribute to your retirement accounts.   A key ingredient to being financially sound is to prepare for your retirement years.  They will be here faster than we anticipate.  So sacrifice today by contributing as much as you can for your future.  Remember, IRA contributions must be made by April 15th but SEP IRA contributions can be made as late as your tax filing deadline including extensions.  So if you file for an extension, you have more time to contribute to your SEP IRA.  Also, don't forget about your Health Savings Account; 2014 contributions must be made by April 15th.      


 

Jennifer Gerarve, CFP®, CRPC®, CRPS®
Wealth Solutions LLC
610 Belle Terre Blvd
LaPlace, LA 70068
985-658-7702
[email protected] 

From last month... 

Legislative/Regulatory Policy Recap

Submitted by: Rita Bautista, 

Governmental Relations Representative

Contact: 504.837.2700 or [email protected]
 


 

Over the past many weeks, HBAGNO's board and professional staff continue to build relationships with our local, state, and Federal policy makers (legislative & administrative) in an effort to ensure that the HBAGNO has active representation in all industry-related policy conversations.


 

For example, in our previous newsletter, we distributed this article (insert link here) written in nola.com regarding a proposed vinyl siding ban in Historic Gretna. This ban was pioneered by Council Member Marino of the Second District.  In a recent follow-up meeting, HBAGNO senior leadership and staff, armed with information provided by the Vinyl Institute, and a representative from HBAGNO-member Norandex Building Materials, met with Council Member Marino and the Mayor of Gretna Belinda C. Constant, to discuss adverse consequences that could result from an outright building material ban. Subsequently, the Mayor and Council Member Marino are requesting more time to visit the findings brought to them in our meeting. We will continue to bring updated information to our members on the status of this ordinance and we will continue to stand by the premise that banning quality materials, manufactured and distributed locally by our members, is not good public policy.


 

We will continue to actively work on building relationships with local, state, and Federal policy makers in an effort to educate them on the value that residential and light commercial construction brings to a state, region, and local community.  We also promise to keep you, our members, informed.  You can help make our legislative and government relations efforts even stronger by helping to be our ears and eyes in your parish or local municipality.  Please don't hesitate to contact me (insert email link here) if you have any questions or need any additional information.


 

Let us not forget that the closer we work together, the stronger our voice is.

 
NOEL

Help the New Orleans Education League win a share of $50,000 in Gulf Coast Bank's Community Rewards Program!


 


 

Gulf Coast Bank's Community Rewards Program will be giving away a total of $50,000 to 10 local non-profits to assist them in their missions in our community. This year, over 400 non-profits registered for our 3rd Annual Community Rewards Program.  Help NOEL finish in the money!

The voting period is from Wednesday, February 25th until Wednesday, March 25th at 8 p.m. Voting is limited to one vote per day per valid email address.


If this is your first time voting, or if you've forgotten your Access Code, enter your email address, then click Email my Access Code and your unique Access Code will be sent to your Email account. Otherwise, enter your information and click Vote. For further inquiries, please email [email protected].

 
Elliot Eisenberg
Tax Reformless

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at [email protected]. His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at www.econ70.com. 


 

The combination of ongoing weak GDP growth and a steep rise in corporate inversions designed to reduce US corporate tax liabilities has again brought the perennial idea of tax reform to the fore.  Done right tax reform is a winner.  By closing loopholes and lowering marginal rates the economy can better perform and GDP growth can be raised.  That said, despite the positive rhetoric coming out of Capitol Hill, don't count on it soon.  Moreover, the sharp, and short-lived seven day brawl about scaling back tax breaks for 529 college savings plans is painfully instructive and illustrative as to why.

 

In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed doing away with the tax-free treatment of capital gains in 529 college savings plans.  Instead, he proposed increasing the size of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, available only to families with pretax incomes of less than $180,000, from $1,000/year to $1,500/year and to allow it to be used for five years, up from four.   


 

Looked at in isolation, the economics behind this particular policy is pretty solid.  First, there is limited evidence that tax breaks designed to increase savings actually do so.  Rather, the evidence generally finds that tax breaks reward individuals who would have saved anyways.  Worse, the tax incentives don't seem to increase the total amount of savings either! 


 

Second, most of the tax shelter goes to higher income households.  According to the White House, 70% of the benefits from 529 plans go to households with incomes greater than $200,000, while a GAO study from 2010 found that 47% of families with a 529 plan had incomes above $150,000.  A recent College Savings Foundation study found that not quite 10% of 529 account holders have household income below $50,000.  In short, these plans give tax breaks to wealthier households who already send their kids to college and would have saved as much with or without the plan.  By contrast, giving all households with incomes below $180,000 slightly more money for college might raise the percentage of kids from middle- and lower-class households that attend college. 


 

More concerning is that be it via 529 plans, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, guaranteed student loans and now increasing student loan forgiveness, government, through the tax code and elsewhere, heavily subsidizes college costs, and in the process dramatically inflates the cost of college tuition.  Real tax reform would scrap these inflationary subsidies and implement a more coherent and more focused approach.                     


 

But here is the rub, taking away the advantageous tax status of 529 plans created an instant coalition of three powerful groups that rolled the administration.  The groups included parents with kids bound for college fearful they were about to lose a valuable tax break that they "deserved," higher education that was concerned it was losing a subsidy and the financial industry which feared losing the billions in fees associated with administering a huge $250 billion program.       


 

While everyone claims that they want a simpler tax code with lower rates and bereft of deductions, loopholes and credits, taking any of these away creates winners and losers.  And while the winners may be numerous, what they stand to gain is nebulous and distant.  By contrast, losers quickly organize themselves and make themselves heard.  If doing away with something as small as this was impossible, good luck with larger tax issues that touch deeper pockets.      

 

NAHB Online Courses Logo
2015 Senior Officers of the Board

President, Roy Olsen
Vice President, Floyd Simeon
Treasurer, Mike LeCorgne
Secretary, Frank Morse
Immediate Past President, Brian Mills

2015 Board of Directors

Steve Albert
John Arms
Fernando Arriola
Lori Barker
Nick Castjohn
Ric Darling
Nicole Dupre
Charlie Fontenelle
Eddie Gandolfi
Phil Hoffman
Kevin Katner
Jo Ann Kostik
Michael Kraft
Peter Lanaux
Ben Laws
Bruce Layburn
Harold LeBlanc
Scott Morse
Helmut Mundt
Randy Noel
Lynda Nugent Smith
Rolf Parelius
Zach Tyson
Kirk Williamson
Steve Wobbema
Wes Wyman
Peter Young

Also Supported By: 

2-10

April Calendar of Events
All Events held at HBA office unless otherwise noted 

1) Professional Women in Building Luncheon, 11am-1pm
@ Ruth's Chris Steak House, 3633 Veterans Blvd.

2) Remodelers & Advanced Building Practices Council Meeting @ 12pm 
@ NOLA Paint & Supplies, 2900 Elysian Fields (Meet in Habitat ReStore office)

3) Good Friday, Office Closed

8) Education Committee Meeting @ 2:30pm

8) NOEL Board Meeting @ 3pm

8) Executive Committee Meeting @ 4pm

9) Education: Lead RRP Refresher Course @ 8:30am

16) Parade of Homes Committee Meeting @ 1:30pm

17) Crawfish Boil @ 5:30pm
@Triton Stone, 6131 RIver Road, Harahan

21) HBA Board of Directors @ 4pm 

24) Associates Council Training Breakfast @ 8:30am

31) LHBA Red Shirt Day @ The Capitol (April GMM)
Featured Events

Professional Women in Building Luncheon
Wednesday, April 1
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
3633 Veterans Blvd

Meeting Topic: There's No Prince Charming...So Plan Accordingly!

Registration & Networking - 11am
Lunch & Program - 11:15-1pm

Contact Rita Bautista to Register
504.837.2700 or 
Combined Councils Meeting: Remodelers & Advanced Building Practices
Thursday, April 2, 12-1pm

Sponsor: NOLA Paint & Supplies
Location: 2900 Elysian Fields
(Meet in Habitat ReStore Office)


Crawfish Boil & Jambalaya Dinner
Friday, April 17

Triton Stone Group of New Orleans
6131 River Road, Harahan

TICKET SALES LIMITED TO 300! REGISTER EARLY!

LIVE MUSIC . LIQUOR BASKET ROULETTE
CRAWFISH EATING CONTEST 

Early Admission for Sponsors @ 5pm
General Admission @ 5:30pm


Tickets:
Adults $35
Kids 6-13 $10
5 & Under Free

Sponsorships:
Kryptonite $750 (12 tix)
Platinum $400 (8 tix)
Gold $250 (4 tix)
Silver $125 (2 tix)
New this year! Sponsor a liquor basket for $100, and your logo will go home with a lucky winner!
 
Associates Council Sales Training Breakfast
Friday, April 24

HBA Office
2424 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie

Topic: THE NEW SALES CONVERSATION
Make Sales Without Selling
Receive Referrals Without Asking.
Your Role As A Salesperson
And more!

Breakfast & Training Session @ 8:30am

These trainings are offered at NO CHARGE for all members! We'd love to see you come by the HBA Office and get the most out of your membership.


LHBA Red Shirt Day & Crawfish Boil
(April General Membership Meeting)
Tuesday, April 28th

HIlton Capitol Center
201 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge 

Schedule:
1:30 - Legislative Briefing 
(Hilton, Heidelberg Room)
2:30 - Lobbying at the Capitol
5:30 - Crawfish Boil 
(Hilton Poolside)

Details:
Crawfish Boil is $20 per person for those who register by April 13
$35 per person after April 13
Unlimited Crawfish & Draft Beer. Cash bar for bottled beer, wine, and liquor
2 drink tickets for those who lobby at the Capitol.
JOB POSTINGS

Members: List your job opening here at no charge!
QuickLinksQuick Links & Resources



* Under Compliance, click on Employers' Workers' Compensation Coverage Verification
HBA Staff Contacts

Jon Luther, Executive Vice President
Lauren Galliano, Director of Membership & Industry Relations   [email protected]g
Rita Bautista, Governmental Affairs Representative    [email protected]
Shane Gray, Accountant  [email protected]
Philip Thomas, Education Director & NOEL Program Director  [email protected]


Did We Miss Something?
Please contact Lauren at the HBA office with any pertinent industry-related issues and/or professional achievements you'd like to share with your association members.

Feature Articles in upcoming issues of sticks & bricks or HBA's printed publication, the homebuilder quarterly(HQ), are FREE opportunities for HBA members to market themselves to 1,000+ industry professionals.

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