Capital Connection

by Ann Kelley
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Ann Kelley’s Capitol Connection

What’s Going on in the Capitol

Missouri Federal Court Finds Realtors Liable in Conspiracy to Inflate Home Sale Commissions

A federal jury in Kansas City, Missouri, has ordered the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and some residential brokerages, including Berkshire Hathaway units, to pay $1.78 billion in damages for conspiring to artificially inflate home sales commissions. This landmark verdict challenges long-standing practices that have allowed real estate agents to increase commissions as housing prices and mortgage rates rise, ultimately increasing costs for consumers. The ruling may reshape the U.S. real estate industry by potentially reducing moving costs through lower commissions. The NAR rule requiring home sellers to pay commissions to the buyer's agent is under scrutiny, and sellers may no longer be obliged to cover these fees. This decision could also empower agents to set their own commission rates, potentially reducing them significantly.

The class-action lawsuit was brought by sellers of over 260,000 homes in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois between 2015 and 2022. The damages could be tripled under U.S. antitrust law, totaling more than $5.3 billion. Despite the verdict, the situation is far from resolved, and the outcome remains uncertain. Redfin, which recently left the NAR, believes the ruling will prompt both home buyers and sellers to question the common practice of setting commissions at 5 to 6 percent. The NAR plans to appeal the decision and seek reduced damages.

With Aging Population, Some States Look to New Types of Housing to Meet Demands

As the United States experiences a demographic shift with more older adults than young people expected in the coming decade, advocacy groups are urging states to move away from single-family zoning and embrace housing solutions that facilitate aging in place. By 2035, the U.S. will have more people over 65 than under 18, but only 40% of the country's housing is considered suitable for the basic needs of older adults.

Organizations like AARP are pushing for two housing strategies: the development of "middle housing" like duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes, as well as allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), often known as granny flats or in-law suites. These changes aim to address the inadequacy of housing options for older adults, particularly those on fixed incomes.

Some states have already reformed single-family zoning practices to accommodate middle housing and ADUs. These changes could help older adults age in place, stay connected to their communities, and access essential support systems. As the nation's population ages, addressing these housing issues is becoming increasingly urgent, especially given the rise in poverty rates among older Americans.

Advocates argue that increasing the supply of diverse and affordable housing through middle housing and ADUs is essential to meet the needs of older adults. However, addressing these housing challenges requires action at the county and city levels, where most zoning decisions are made.

Ultimately, creating a more inclusive and affordable housing landscape is crucial as the U.S. faces a shortage of accessible housing to meet the needs of the growing older population. These changes aim to provide housing options that align with the desire of many older adults to age in place and stay connected to their communities.

Buy Missouri Made For the Holiday Season

The Missouri Grown program is bringing back its holiday gift boxes for a fourth Christmas season, featuring a selection of unique food and home products from small agribusinesses across the state. These gift boxes are an excellent way to share Missouri pride with loved ones and showcase the diversity of Missouri agriculture. Each box costs $50, plus shipping, and can be ordered through the Missouri Grown purchasing platform. Large orders (10 boxes or more) can be coordinated directly with the Missouri Grown team or picked up at their Department headquarters office in Jefferson City.

The 2023 Missouri Grown Holiday Gift Box includes a variety of products from different local businesses, including jam, caramels, sauce, an ornament, lotion bar, dry rub, tea, and snack sticks. The program encourages individuals to explore more about Missouri Grown and its member products on their website at MissouriGrownUSA.com.

DESE and The Dollywood Foundation are working together to launch Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across Missouri on November 8. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by delivering high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to the homes of registered children under age 5, at no cost to the family.

The Missouri Imagination Library was made possible by legislation (Section 178.694 RSMo) that identifies school districts as the local partner for this initiative. Full funding was included in DESE’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget to establish and administer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for all children in Missouri age 0-5.

There will be no cost to schools for the books or the postage to deliver them. Watch for an Administrative Memo in the coming week with details for school leaders on the November 8 launch and how schools can help families in your community sign up to receive books.Saturday, December 2nd, 3:30-4:30, Greenfield Live Well Health and Fitness Center

Greetings from the Live Well Health & Fitness Center! We are so excited to be doing our Santa Stroll again this year! Come join us for a stroll down candy cane lane with Santa, the Grinch may even make an appearance this year, and tell him all about what you want! After you're done, you will receive a bag full of goodies, hot cocoa and a cookie from us on the way up to the square for the parade! This is a free event and we can't wait to see all of you!Taking Care of YOU

Resolutions: My office offers Courtesy Resolutions for birthdays, deceased loved ones, Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, Glory Awards, Marriage, Retirement, Sports, Wedding Anniversary’s, and Veterans. To request one, please call my office at (573) 751-2165.

Flags: Are you in need of a new flag? I offer new Missouri State and United States flags upon request. If you need a flag for a special circumstance, we can even fly it over the capitol for you. These flags are available for any non-profit organizations and groups.

Scheduling a Capitol Trip: If your school is traveling to Jefferson City, contact my capitol office to set up tours times for the Capitol, Supreme Court, and Missouri State Penitentiary. These tours fill up fast in a first come first serve basis. Please give us a months’ notice in order to ensure you get tours of everything.