The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) added its voice today to the housing industry's call against efforts to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, even as the group favored a legislative and regulatory policy agenda that echoes the surge in pro-business, anti-regulation attitude in Washington.

"We will work to promote and preserve the value of home ownership and oppose any efforts to repeal the mortgage interest deduction," the association declared in the first set of legislative principles it lists in its 16-page document. That statement, along with a call for more funding for the nation's roads, constituted just about the only cases in which NLBMDA took a stance in favor of government spending. On most of the rest of the proposals, "NLBMDA stands ready to work with policymakers to roll back the red tape and costly mandates that have hampered our economic recovery," Joe Collings, the association's chairman, said in a news release announcing the agenda.

"It is essential that Congress focus on job creation and sound fiscal policies that will restore housing as the cornerstone to our strong national economy," said Collings, CEO of Ferguson Lumber, Rockville, Ind. "We look forward to working with Congress to pass common-sense, pro-growth policies that will put the building supply industry and our national economy back on the path to recovery."

Among NLBMDA's statements:

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development "must continue to provide support for struggling and prospective home buyers."
  • "Incentives for energy-efficient home improvements can also be a powerful tool to restore lost jobs across the building supply chain."
  • The association favors "responsible home ownership and lending practices" and disaster recovery assistance.
  • On green issues, "We urge Congress to support green building without imposing mandates that give preference to only one green rating system." This reflects the association's longtime support of wood-certification systems beyond the one managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Currently, FSC's green label is the only one that the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program recognizes, and from time to time there are efforts to require that federal structures be built to LEED standards.
  • NLBMDA "supports tax credits and incentives to encourage consumer purchases of energy-efficient products, materials, and construction."
  • On building code issues, the association "will oppose attempts by the federal government to impose national building codes that do not take existing model codes into account and that could hinder our housing recovery." In general, NLBMDA "believes code development should balance safety and/or environmental benefits with the impact on housing affordability."
  • As for liability issues, NLBMDA again spoke up for the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act, which would hold sellers harmless from liability suits when they weren't involved in any negligence regarding the design, manufacture, sale, or installation of a legal product. NLBMDA has backed this act for several years but has never managed to get it out of a Congressional committee.
  • On privacy and personal finance issues, NLBMDA opposes efforts to repeal or weaken the 2005 bankruptcy-law changes and believes that "attempts to mandate safeguarding measures or prevent identity theft should not impose unnecessary administrative burdens on building suppliers who are traditionally low-risk businesses."
  • On health care reform, NLBMDA didn't call for the outright repeal of "Obamacare." Rather, it said it "will work with the broader business community to identify and seek to repeal the more onerous portions of the law." In particular, it supported the repeal of new requirements involving the issuance of 1099 forms. That proposal appears to stand a good chance of winning passage.
  • As it has for the past two years, NLBMDA opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, which would eliminate the need for a secret ballot when employees at a company consider whether to seek collective bargaining through a union.
  • On tax matters, NLBMDA spoke out against increasing personal income tax rates on grounds that they also represent tax hikes for many small businesses that are structured as Chapter S corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships. The association said it supports modernization of the S corporation to improve those business' access to capital, and it called for full and permanent repeal of the estate tax.
  • The association backs Last-In First-Out accounting practices and making permanent the bonus depreciation and increased Section 179 expensing limits that were added recently as business tax incentives.
  • Aside from backing more infastructure funding to reduce road congestion, NLBMDA supports increasing the gross vehicle weight to 97,000 pounds on federal interstate highways on vehicles that have an extra axle.