For those of you who are feeling exhausted from the federal election cycle that just passed and are ready for a hiatus — the political process in New York City is just beginning. Local and City-wide elections happen in odd-numbered years, and, because of term limits, 2021 is going to be a doozy.
For starters, Mayor de Blasio is finishing his second term, and he cannot run again. As it’s always more difficult to defeat an incumbent, an open seat catches the eye, and appeals to the ambitions of a lot more candidates. We can expect, and indeed already have, a large field of contenders, ranging from career politicians to former Commissioners to people from the private sector. At the City-wide level, the Comptroller and four out of five Borough President’s seats are also open, due to term limits.
At the City Council, while all 51 seats are up, 34, or well over half, will be open because the current occupant is finishing a final term. Of those on their way out, you can include the Council Speaker, Cory Johnson, so when the new Council convenes in January of 2022, they will have to elect a new Speaker, who will have a lot of say in how the Council is run and what agenda it pursues.
Many of the outcomes of these elections will take place over the ensuing four years, as all of these new actors pursue laws and policies that they want to see in place. BOMA New York will be there, with our allies, following the action and pushing for our members’ interests in all areas of law and policy.
All of this campaigning will also impact this year’s business, it’s just not clear yet how. Many Council Members term limited out will be running for other offices, including for the Mayorship. Will they be distracted by their elections, or will they want to push legislation to bolster their resumes? Similarly, will the Speaker, who announced a run for Mayor but then withdrew, want a huge last year filled with the passing of many local laws, or will he leave things to the next Council session? And the Mayor, facing his last year, will no doubt want to cap off his second term with what he considers important victories. Whichever way it goes, we will be there for our members.
In a heavily Democratic city, much of the drama will be over on or around the June 22 primary. Where there are competitive general elections, they will be settled on November 2. And then, come the new year, we will start to see exactly what direction a largely new crop of elected officials—or at least new to their current positions—will want to take the City.
At the Federal level and a year in a review, BOMA Advocacy concluded 2020 with several impressive legislative wins.
In April, following extensive lobbying by BOMA and its CRE partners, the CARES Act restored the 15-year depreciation schedule for qualified leasehold improvements or Qualified Improvement Property (QIP). In the 2017 tax legislation, the schedule was reverted to the standard 39-year depreciation, significantly increasing the tax liability in the CRE sector.
Following a nearly 15-year effort, Section 179D “The Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction,” was made permanent. The provision provides a $1.80/sf deduction for energy efficient improvements to the building envelope that exceed the applicable ASHRAE 90.1 standard by 50%. Since the deduction expired periodically it had never realized its full potential to spur investments in efficiency. Now that it is permanent building owners will be able to rely on the tax benefit when analyzing cost efficiency improvements.
While the CARES ACT provided significant relief for businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program it excluded most non-profit organizations. After extensive lobbying by BOMA, the second stimulus legislation (H.R. 133) added language to include 501(c)6 organizations. As a result, BOMA local associations may now qualify for loans through Paycheck Protection Program.