Controversy over proposed changes to real estate commission

Updated: Apr. 2, 2021 at 6:24 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Black Realtors in Alabama have been working to draw attention to what they say is a problematic bill in the state legislature.

Marcus Brown, President of the Birmingham Realtist Association, a chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, says SB331 would make several unwelcome changes affecting the Alabama Real Estate Commission. Brown says under current law, the commission, which helps regulate the industry and protect consumers, must have one Black member. But Brown says the bill would remove that requirement and restrict the process of submitting nominees to the governor’s office.

Brown says his group has been contacting national industry groups around the country to tell them the bill sends the wrong message.

“One issue with this coming about at this particular time in this social and political climate, here we are in the deep south in Alabama, projecting this image to the rest of the nation,” says Brown. “If the conversation is around diversity - that’s what’s national right now, diversity and inclusion - this bill looks like there’s a lot of exclusion going on.”

WBRC has tried to contact the bill’s sponsor, Senator Shay Shelnutt, but has not heard a response.

Brown says his group and possibly others are now on the offensive. “That one seat that was put in place in 1988 may not be enough,” he said. “We’re looking to increase the representation that we have on the commission and we’ve made our voices known, and I think we’ve gotten the attention of legislators to understand we’re going to have to come back to the drawing board and talk about this more.”

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