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BOMA leaders take real estate's message to Capitol Hill

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More than 100 BOMA leaders from all around the country convened March 12-13 at the nation's capitol for the BOMA International National Issues Conference. Though BOMA chapters work frequently with local government representatives, the annual conference is a time when BOMA representatives are able to meet personally with their representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss issues crucial to the commercial real estate industry. At this year's conference, BOMA members were able to educate staff members on commercial real estate priorities from a local and national perspective.

BOMA San Diego met with staff members from all five of San Diego's congressional representatives' offices to discuss BOMA International's legislative agenda for 2007. Topics and issues discussed during the meetings included:

¥ The need to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) before its expiration at the end of the year. TRIA provides a federal backstop for terrorism insurance and BOMA believes Congress must extend TRIA on a long-term or permanent basis.

¥ The necessary extension of the 15-year depreciation period for tenant improvements. At the end of 2007, the depreciation period will revert to 39 years, which is not reflective of the marketplace.

¥ BOMA International's support of the 2007 EXTEND Act and the importance of enacting energy-efficient tax incentives to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

¥ A lower tax rate on capital gains and the need for Congress to propose and pass comprehensive catastrophe insurance legislation.

"It is so important to get involved to protect the rights of the commercial real estate industry, and the National Issues Conference is a great opportunity for that," said Ted Kimball, vice president of BOMA San Diego and partner at Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP. "A stroke of the pen can dramatically damage the rights of property owners and managers, and the opportunity to meet with our representatives helps keep in mind the value of our industry and the need to protect it from unwarranted legislation."

Several members of Congress were also featured speakers at the conference. Reps. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., spoke to BOMA members during the opening luncheon. Rep. Sessions discussed the importance of making energy efficiency in commercial buildings a top priority and encouraged attendees to "continue to push for energy-efficiency tax deductions," one of BOMA's main legislative priorities for the year. Rep. Blumenauer talked about the need to create realistic hold depreciations and the ways to minimize the industry's carbon footprint. Two more congressmen, Reps. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., spoke to delegates on the last day of the conference about terrorism risk insurance and leasehold depreciation.

BOMA's leaders also had the chance to get the inside scoop from keynote speaker Amy Walter, political analyst and senior editor of The Cook Political Report. Walter is responsible for handicapping and analyzing U.S. House races and also serves as a political analyst for CNN. During her speech, Walter gave a lively insider's view of how both Democratic and Republican strategies are playing out in Washington and what it could mean for the 2008 elections.

For more information on BOMA International's legislative priorities and future conferences, visit www.boma.org. For more information on BOMA San Diego's local legislative efforts, call the BOMA office at (619) 243-1817.

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