At the White House signing ceremony for the $350 billion stimulus bill,
Kent personally represented the nation's home builders. His participation in the May 28 event emphasized the important seat NAHB had at the table during the extensive negotiations leading up to that day.

Kent was proud to stand alongside the President as the third-largest tax cut in the nation's history became law. As previously reported, the Administration's proposal to eliminate double taxation of corporate earnings was replaced by the reduction in ordinary long-term capital gains tax rates that will also apply to dividend income. As such, the legislation does not harm the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and actually creates an incentive for corporations to invest in LIHTCs. NAHB was the only housing organization involved in deliberations for the bill a circumstance directly attributable to the reasoned, collaborative approach we adopted in this process. Read Monday's edition of Nation's Building News Online for details on the tax package. 

A moratorium on critical habitat designations for the rest of 2003?
That's what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is saying may have to happen because litigation often initiated by environmental groups to prod the agency into crafting faulty designations has drained its budget for the fiscal year. While the FWS will be able to continue mandating certain land use restrictions not pertaining to critical habitat protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), this latest development could add significant steam to NAHB's push for ESA reform on Capitol Hill.  We'll meet with Assistant Secretary Craig Manson next week to discuss this matter and other concerns, and will keep you posted on what's in store. Read our official reaction statement  or contact Christopher Galik at x8663. [return to top]

The International Code Council has a new CEO
in James Lee Witt, who was tapped by the organization's board of directors last week to replace Bob Heinrich in heading up the 50,000-member association. A former owner of a commercial and residential construction company, Witt served as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Clinton Administration and will continue to lead his own company, James Lee Witt Associates, LLC. The International Code Council (ICC) develops codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, and was officially formed last year through a merger of the three legacy model code groups known by their initials as BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI. Contact Ed Sutton for more at x8564. [return to top]

The WTO agrees with us that tariffs on Canadian lumber are unfair
and should be rescinded. In a victory for housing affordability and free trade on May 27, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced a key interim ruling that countervailing duties imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department on imports of Canadian softwood lumber are based on flawed methodology. This important development reaffirms what the nation's home builders have been saying from the beginning: the U.S. Commerce Department's position that Canadian softwood lumber is subsidized has no merit. The WTO should issue its final ruling on the U.S. subsidy determination next month, about the same time that a NAFTA panel will weigh in on the issue. In a related development, both chambers of Congress have introduced bipartisan resolutions calling for open trade between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber. Read NAHB's official statements on the WTO decision and House and Senate resolutions, or contact Jason Lynn at x8307 for more. [return to top]

April was a great month for new-home sales,
and when all the numbers are tallied, May could be even better. The U.S. Commerce Department's report that sales of new single-family homes rose 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of more than one million units in April provides solid evidence that housing continues to bolster the nation's ailing economy. Existing-home sales also rose in the month. Two key reasons given for the strength of April home sales are historically low interest rates and reviving consumer confidence. Since the end of April, there has been yet another downshift in mortgage interest rates and consumer confidence has risen again   good reasons to believe that May home sales will be even stronger. See our release for more. [return to top]

Older Americans Month just ended, but not the opportunities
for home builders focusing on the 55-and-older marketplace. Research reported in the coming edition of Nation's Building News Online shows that the 55+ crowd is key to the next great housing niche. Consider this: over the next two decades, the 55-64 age segment will expand by 76%, while the 65-and-up segment will grow by 52%. In the same period, the 35-44 segment will get 9% smaller while the 45-54 segment ekes out a marginal 5% gain. It's clear which market has the most growth potential, and that builders who aren't currently focusing on older Americans soon will be. NAHB's Web site offers great information on the most popular amenities for 55 and older home buyers. Contact the Seniors Housing Council at x8220 or e-mail Eucklan Matthews-Jones for more information.  [return to top]

Do you know what you should about "visitability?"
It's a term coined by advocates for the disabled to reference accessibility issues in single-family homes, and it's something that could well affect your business. While numerous design modifications can make homes more accessible to physically challenged persons, at issue is the increased costs associated with those modifications, and their impact on basic housing affordability. NAHB recently adopted policy opposing mandatory requirements pertaining to visitability, yet supporting state and local HBAs wishing to develop voluntary programs that encourage builders to incorporate accessible design features in single-family homes. Get all the facts in NAHB's latest edition of the One Minute Report.  Although the publication is not yet available online, you can obtain a free copy via email by contacting Laura Dooley (x8361).  [return to top]

June 2, 2003

By C. Kent Conine
NAHB President and
Jerry Howard
NAHB Executive VP and CEO
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