She spoke with REIT magazine about some of Nareit’s key priorities on Capitol Hill for the year ahead.
Cathy Barré is Nareit’s executive vice president & general counsel. She spoke with REIT magazine about some of Nareit’s key priorities on Capitol Hill for the year ahead.
What has Nareit been working on with respect to pandemic economic recovery?
Since the start of the pandemic, Nareit has focused on relief in support of tenants and their businesses that serves as a bridge to the post-pandemic economy, including the bipartisan Retail Revitalization Act of 2020, which would allow REITs to commit additional equity investment to struggling tenants without risking REIT status.
Additionally, we’re supportive of the bipartisan RESTART Act, which would provide loans and grants to the hardest hit businesses. Nareit is also supporting potential legislation that would provide tax incentives for PPE and other COVID-related expenses, including the prop tech REITs are deploying for the safety of employees and tenants such as static and dynamic (robotic) UVC lights and dry mist hydrogen peroxide disinfection systems.
What is happening with Pandemic Business Continuity Insurance?
Nareit has joined with more than two dozen industries and companies representing more than 60 million workers in the restaurant, entertainment, hospitality, gaming, retail, communications, broadcasting and real estate industries to form the Business Continuity Coalition, a joint effort to support the work of public policymakers in advocating for a public/private business continuity insurance program for future potential government-ordered shutdowns.
In November, the House convened a hearing of stakeholders on “Insuring against a Pandemic: Challenges and Solutions for Policyholders and Insurers” and discussed the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act of 2020. We expect conversations on pandemic business continuity to continue in the 117th Congress.
What is the status of the Improving Corporate Governance through Diversity Act?
This important legislation, which Nareit supports and 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, passed the House of Representatives in late 2019 on a solidly bipartisan basis. Nareit expects there to be progress on it in 2021 in the Senate where a companion bipartisan bill had been introduced in 2019 and had been referred to the Senate Banking Committee.
What are some other initiatives we can expect to see in the future?
Infrastructure will continue to be a legislative priority on both sides of the aisle this year. Many REITs are leaning into ESG and environmental sustainability. For example, Duke Realty Corp. (NYSE: DRE) is poised to become New Jersey’s largest community solar host. Nareit is particularly interested in updates to the REIT rules to allow REITs to invest more extensively in and operate more types of infrastructure, including green infrastructure and renewable energy. Nareit is also supporting the bipartisan Energy Efficient Qualified Improvement Property Act of 2020 which would provide accelerated cost recovery for energy efficient qualified improvement property. We anticipate an acceleration in activity in the infrastructure and green energy space.