4 Quick Questions with Nareit's John Jones

REIT magazine: January/February 2020

John Jones, vice president for government relations at Nareit.

After spending more than 15 years on Capitol Hill, John Jones joined Nareit as vice president for government relations in 2018.

Jones previously served as chief of staff to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and national security director for Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). 

What is the status of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization (TRIA)?

The House of Representatives passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, a bill that would reauthorize TRIA for seven years, by a vote of 385 to 22. Nareit supported the leadership of House Financial Services Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who introduced this bill, and its bipartisan co-sponsors. 

Over in the Senate, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, which reauthorizes TRIA through 2027, was included within a major appropriations measure to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2020. President Trump signed the bill into law on Dec. 20. 

What piece of legislation stood out for you this past year?

I was very excited to see the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act of 2019 pass overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives. The bill would require public companies to annually disclose the voluntarily self-identified gender, race, ethnicity, and veteran status of their board of directors, nominees, and senior executive officers. 

More and more people believe it is vital that corporate senior leadership teams begin to reflect the diversity of their customers, their shareholders, and the nation. I am proud of Nareit’s support for this legislation. 

What’s happening with the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA)?

For over a decade, Nareit has urged the Treasury Department to withdraw Notice 2007-55, which concluded that FIRPTA applies to domestically-controlled REIT liquidating distributions, even though the general tax rules call for liquidating distributions to be treated as sales of stock so that the gain from those sales would not be subject to U.S. tax if the REIT was domestically controlled. 

How important is Nareit’s grassroots program?

The program brings real results in terms of familiarizing national leaders about the importance of REITs. Members of Congress appreciate the value proposition of the REIT approach to real estate when they see how REITs contribute to the vitality of their communities back home.

In 2019 alone, Nareit coordinated 45 meetings with members of Congress, including a Washington, D.C., event  that brought together Park Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE: PK) President and CEO, and 2018 Nareit Chair, Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr., with several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). They discussed the importance of enhancing urban real estate investment opportunities for diverse investors. 

In terms of enhancing the visibility of the value of the REIT industry both in Washington, D.C., and natiowide, the value of the grassroots program is immense.