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Orlando housing market heats as home prices outpace wages

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By MARY SHANKLIN
Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ With Orlando home prices rising six times faster than wages in the last year, competition has revved up for condos and townhouses, a new report shows.

The smaller, more affordable residential options represented just 12 percent of the 3,508 home sales in an area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties last month. But prices of those units rose at more than triple the rate of single-family houses during the last year, according to a new report by Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

“What we have essentially done is come full circle with rent versus purchase, and right now, the pendulum has swung to purchase,” said Thomas Allen, broker with Urbanista, which specializes in downtown Orlando residential.

He said condo and townhouse prices have spiked to the point where developers will likely look at building another condominium tower in downtown at some point during the next two years as average sales prices continue increasing above $300 a square foot. It’s been about a decade since the urban core saw a new condo tower, he added.

The mid-point price for a single-family home in the core Orlando market during March was $249,900, which was up 6 percent from a year earlier. Prices for condominiums and townhouses were about half that amount and increased more than 19 percent during that time.

Stress on buyers continues to mount in Central Florida with midpoint wages of $58,406 remaining roughly flat for the previous yearlong period, while home prices have grown about 6 percent. Interest rates remained flat from a year earlier and edged down slightly to 4.29 percent in March from February.

In addition, the supply of listings has shrunk to near-record levels of 2.2 months, which is down from a year and a month earlier.

From a month earlier, the overall median price for all types of Orlando-area housing in March was largely flat at $230,000 despite the downturn in supply. Sales were also relatively flat from February.

“Orlando’s housing market continues to be tugged by opposing factors, such as low inventory and high demand,” said association president Lou Nimkoff, of Brio Real Estate Services. “The result is a wash for sales.”

Of the four counties in the Metro Orlando area, only Osceola showed an increase in year-over-year sales with 5.9 percent growth. Lake County sales declined 4.4 percent; Seminole County was down 3.7 percent; and Orange County sales slipped 2.9 percent from a year ago.

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Orlando, FL, USA for Use These Packing and Planning Tips to Maximize Your Fun at Orlando’s Water Parks

Orlando, FL, USA for Use These Packing and Planning Tips to Maximize Your Fun at Orlando’s Water Parks

–Good weather reigns year-round in Orlando, Florida, but summertime is the best season to splash around in the many epic water parks around town. From enormous water slides to incredibly relaxing lazy rivers, you can test the waters of a different park each day for a week and still not get through them all! Orlando during the summer is non-stop fun, and we want to help you make the most of your vacation. To ensure you have the maximum amount of vacation fun without any stress, we’ve compiled a quick water park packing and planning list for you.

Orlando Water Park Packing Tips

Whether you’re heading to the water park at your resort, such as Surfari at The Grove, or to Blizzard Beach in Walt Disney World, many of the items you will, or won’t, need remain the same.

Don’t Forget to Bring:

-Hat
-Sunscreen
-Sunglasses
-Water-friendly shoes
-A few bathing suits – You don’t need to bring multiple bathing suits to the park, but as far as packing goes, it’s good to have a few to cycle through, depending on how long your stay will be

You don’t need to bring towels with you, all of the water parks will have them for use.

We also recommend bringing:

-Favorite floating devices – the Zero Entry Pool at The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando, for example, allows outside floaties, the water parks at Walt Disney World, though, do not
-Book or e-reader, if you intend to lounge
-GoPro or another water-resistant camera
-Waterproof container for your phones and other electronic devices that you may use while at the park

Orlando Water Park Planning Tips

Now that you have a general idea of what to pack for the water park portion of your Orlando vacation, let’s dive into some general planning tips.

For starters, it’s smart to assess, ahead of time, which water parks will suit your needs. If you’re going to be vacationing with kids who enjoy thrill rides, then be sure to spend at least one day at Blizzard Beach, where thrill rides are plentiful. On the other hand, if you have more a mixed group of big and little kids, then opt for Typhoon Lagoon, where there’s a variety of rides and activities for all ages.

If you prefer to have access to an on-site water park, then choose a resort that has a water park with everything you desire. Surfari Water Park at The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando is one of the newest, and one of the only water parks to feature FlowRider, a double surf simulation ride.

Even though the water parks feature complimentary chairs, they all tend to be taken by the afternoon, along with the shaded spots, since the parks are so popular during the summer months. To ensure your group has a spot to gather, eat, and relax, get to the park early. Another idea is to rent a cabana.

Though this option is pricier, it means your entire group will have a comfortable spot to lounge in throughout the day.

We mentioned packing sunscreen, but our planning tips for the sun expand beyond that. Not only do we recommend planning to apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day, but try to find shade as often as possible. The sun is extremely powerful, so it’s important to get in the shade as often as possible.

Arrive early and/or stay late. If you and your crew don’t mind starting your days early, you can plan to arrive as soon as the parks open, when there are fewer people. The same concept applies to the hour before closing.

Pack lite for parks outside of your resort. The water parks at Walt Disney World offer lockers for use, but space is limited within the locker. Outside of what we mentioned on the packing list above, we recommend keeping any non-essentials to a minimum, so you’ll have less to keep track of.

Visit a variety of water parks. There are so many incredible water parks to enjoy in Orlando; we recommend visiting a few different ones. Enjoy your resort water park, head to Blizzard Beach in Walt Disney World, or try out Aquatica at SeaWorld.

Last, but not least, stay hydrated! Without a doubt, you’ll be taking in a lot of sun, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day will ensure you enjoy yourself all day, and vacation, long. Being in the water will cool you off on the outside, drinking water will ensure your insides stay cool and happy!

You’re all set. You know the packing essentials, we’ve shared our best planning tips, and all that’s left is for you to enjoy! Don’t sweat the small stuff, even if you forget something, you’ll be able to purchase it in Orlando. Even if you aren’t able to get to the park first thing, or the chairs are taken at first, it will all work out, and the fun will still be had, regardless! Splash, lounge, shout with joy, whichever rides you choose, we know it’ll be a trip to remember.

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100 clean up Orlando apartments for ex-homeless

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ORLANDO, Fla. — About a hundred people gave up their Saturday to help spruce up a home for the homeless in Orlando.

100 turn out to help paint apartments for ex-homeless Pathlight Home manages 2 apartment complexes

Volunteers grabbed a brush and put a new coat of paint on a housing complex for the homeless at the corner of Colonial Drive and John Young Parkway.

Pathlight Home has two complexes, providing a home for 600 formerly-homeless men and women.

"It makes me feel more at home, because there’s so many people that care about us and come over and volunteer for us, and this is just one of their better efforts," Maxwell Terrace resident Alan Culver said.

Over the past 25 years, Pathlight Home has helped provide a home for more than 5,000 homeless people.

About 100 people volunteered their time Saturday to clean up an apartment complex in Orlando that houses formerly homeless people. (Vincent Earley, staff)
About 100 people volunteered their time Saturday to clean up an apartment complex in Orlando that houses formerly homeless people. (Vincent Earley, staff)

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8,000 inquire about 201 apartments as Central Florida officials seek affordable housing options

Orlando’s Pendana at West Lakes mixed-income apartments have debuted with 8,000 prospective tenants inquiring about 201 units, some of which rent for less than half of the going market rate.

The number of applicants for the new development near Camping World Stadium underscores Orlando’s ranking as one of the country’s toughest housing markets for the lowest-income renters, reported the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Metro Orlando’s gap between wages and housing costs hurt the region’s attractiveness as a place to live, according to a new report by U.S. News & World Report that ranked Metro Orlando 78th.

“I hope and pray people see the demand,” said Orlando renter Anita Mouton, who added that she is on a waiting list, hoping Pendana units will open later in the year. “What are they waiting on to create more of these? You need these in this community. This is a low-budget city.”

In search of housing solutions, more than 100 Central Florida officials and housing executives last week finalized a series of regional housing workshops organized by Orange County. Upcoming recommendations are likely to include adding new home-construction taxes, expanding the types of housing allowed in neighborhoods, carving out land trusts to lower costs and requiring some affordable residences in typical communities.

Developers and builders have objected to driving up costs but the various housing groups all agree that Florida lawmakers should stop raiding state funds earmarked for affordable housing. Last month, the Legislature bucked its own task-force recommendations by diverting $185 million from housing trust funds to spend on school safety. That left just $109 million behind for down-payment programs, rental assistance, senior housing aid and other programs. It was the 11th consecutive year legislators dipped into housing funds to pay for other needs.

“Florida is one of the few states with the set-aside to fund affordable housing and the Legislature is choosing to funnel it to other places. …” said Sandy Hostetter, Central Florida president of Valley National Bank. The lender helped finance the $40 million Pendana project.

Legislation to protect the housing funds died in an appropriations committee that included Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican representing parts of south Lake County. She did not respond to phone calls.

At Pendana on a recent weekday morning, applicants lined up outside the door to the leasing office. The private-public partnership is able to offer below-market rents there because the nonprofit Lift Orlando group leveraged donated land, tax credits and other tools. Some units are rented out based on the tenants’ income — as little as 30 percent of residents’ income on select units. Other units are priced starting at $593 a month and market-rate units start at $850.

But creating another Pendana has become less likely because state and federal spending isn’t prioritizing it, Hostetter said.

The problem is particularly acute in Osceola County, which has sought solutions to house its growing population of working-class residents. Possibly thousands of residents pay about $1,200 a month to live in old hotels along U.S. Highway 192, said Susan Caswell, assistant community development administrator for Osceola, and lack the deposits and other upfront fees for better housing.

To push affordable living, the county has expedited building permits, partnered on down-payment assistance programs and allowed deferral or subsidies of impact fees. Unlike some other counties, it also embraces renters living in garage apartments. Caswell said Osceola may soon consider charging impact fees based on the size of a house rather than the number of bedrooms in an effort to encourage smaller houses.

Builders are constructing three- and four-bedroom houses when smaller and more affordable homes are needed the most in a county with average wages of $33,000, she said.

“We have made production easier, quicker and less expensive, but our fundamental issue is that our builders are building a type of housing that does not meet a need,” Caswell added.

But production home builders say they are delivering what the market demands with an eye to making a profit.

“We serve the market. We don’t control it,” said Alex Martin, division president for Mattamy Homes. “I build what I’m told. I serve the regulators and the buyers.”

Atlantic Housing Partners Principal Scott Culp said Osceola’s recent hike in residential construction taxes called impact fees has forced his company to question whether it can afford to build there. Local governments should instead call for a portion of housing to be affordably priced in new neighborhoods such as Lake Nona the way Orlando required it for Creative Village just west of downtown, he said.

Funds “would go much further and you need to require it everywhere,” he said.

One of the state’s leading advocates for affordable housing, Florida Housing Coalition President Jaimie Ross said local governments might need to guard against losing existing affordable complexes. Developers of those projects had to offer reduced rents — for a limited time — in exchange for getting up-front construction funds through the sale of federal tax credits. She warned that new political pressures from developers to further limit the time those projects must offer lower rents have mounted.

“We need to make sure we don’t lose the housing we have created,” she said.

mshanklin@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5538

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Millennials a surging part of U.S. real estate market, but not in Florida

Millennials a surging part of U.S. real estate market, but not in Florida

Millennials a surging part of U.S. real estate market, but not in Florida

Adults under the age of 35 are beginning to buy homes at an increasing clip but Florida is struggling to attract younger homeowners. Florida cities are not in the top 50 for popularity with millennials. In fact, cities in the Sunshine State made up half of the least popular cities for millennial homebuyers. More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, WBBH, and KiiiTV.

Possible Indian burial grounds could delay million-dollar homes in Central Florida

In a region where cul de sacs have quickly replaced crops over the last half century, documented encounters between development and Native American archaeological sites remain somewhat rare. Central Florida had 12 cases of prehistoric Native American human remains being found during the past two years — about a fifth of cases statewide during that time, state officials say. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

A boom in residential real estate, for some

On the surface, the annual ranking of the country’s top brokerage firms shows “significant growth” in residential sales volume — a “boom year,” RISMedia states in the 30th edition of the real estate information company’s Top 500 Power Broker Survey. But underlying the sales volume is a troubling indicator of the overall market and the growing dearth of affordable housing. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Florida property tax rates in middle of pack nationally

Property tax rates on single-family homes in 2017 ranged from a high of 2.28 percent in New Jersey to a low of 0.34 percent in Hawaii. Florida was in the middle of the pack at 1.09 percent. Alachua, St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties had the three highest rates among Florida counties. [Source: Palm Beach Post]

How would Florida’s proposed daylight savings bill impact real estate?

On March 23, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida signed a bill to keep the state on daylight savings time year-round. Extending daylight savings time permanently could have a profound impact on when Florida real estate agents can show properties. More from Inman and WFG.

STAT OF THE WEEK
$791,666
Cost per night for a 12-day stay at a proposed low Earth orbit hotel being developed by startup Orion Span. Read more from the Real Deal and Florida Today.

ALSO TRENDING:

› Central Florida neighborhoods where home values are surging [Orlando Business Journal]
Home values grew solidly across Central Florida in 2017, but they really skyrocketed in some of Orlando’s outlying neighborhoods. Data from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association broke down single-family home sales in 2017 by ZIP code.

› On Top of the World plans detail mega non-retiree community [Ocala Star-Banner]
Kenneth Colen hopes to open the On Top of the World lifestyle to working families with the company’s planned debut of a community not restricted to those age 55 and older. The Marion County Planning and Zoning Commission last week recommended approval of a plan that would bring more than 2,500 homes to a 467-acre section of pasture land

› Real estate Ponzi schemer, Alfano La Cava, pleads guilty [Orlando Sentinel]
A real estate broker who ran a $5 million Ponzi scheme in the Orlando area based on fake real estate has pleaded guilty. But attorneys representing victims in civil lawsuits in Orlando said the scheme dated back years and included at least 100 victims and $40 million.

› Berkshire Hathaway Florida acquires South Miami firm [The Real Deal]
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty is expanding its reach in Miami-Dade. The brokerage, a subsidiary of Lennar Corp., just closed on the acquisition of Foster & Clark Real Estate, adding 24 agents to the company.

Previous Real Estate Updates:

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Widow of Orlando nightclub shooter acquitted on all charges in 2016 attack

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida —

The widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay Orlando nightclub was acquitted Friday on charges of lying to the FBI and helping her husband in the 2016 attack.

Noor Salman, 31, began sobbing with joy when she was found not guilty of charges of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization, WKMG reported.

Salman was married to Omar Mateen when he attacked the Pulse nightclub. Police killed him after the massacre.

Prosecutors said Salman and her husband scouted out potential targets together – including Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex – and she knew he was buying ammunition for his AR-15 in preparation for a jihadi attack.

She knew that he had a sick fascination with violent jihadi videos and an affinity for Islamic State group websites and gave him a "green light to commit terrorism," prosecutors said.

Sheriff Demings has issued a response to the Noor Salman trial and verdict: pic.twitter.com/7QFrbpD8uZ

— OCSO FL News (@OrangeCoSheriff) March 30, 2018

Defense attorneys described Salman as an easily manipulated woman with a low IQ. They said Salman, who was born in California to Palestinian parents, was abused by her husband, who cheated on her with other women and concealed much of his life from her.

Attorney Charles Swift argued there was no way Salman knew that Mateen would attack the Pulse nightclub because even he didn’t know he would attack it until moments before the shooting. His intended target was the Disney Springs complex, prosecutors said.

"It’s a horrible, random, senseless killing by a monster," Swift said during closing arguments. "But it wasn’t preplanned. The importance to this case is that if he didn’t know, she couldn’t know."

Salman’s statement to the FBI in the hours after the attack appeared to play a key role in the case. In the statement, Salman said over "the last two years, Omar talked to me about jihad."

She claimed her husband didn’t use the internet in their home, but he did, prosecutors said. She told investigators that Mateen had deactivated his Facebook account in 2013, but they found that he had an account up until the month of the shooting – and was friends with his wife. She said her husband only had one gun when he had three, and that he wasn’t radicalized, they said.

Mateen had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group before he was killed.

Salman also advised Mateen to lie to his mother when she inquired about his whereabouts on the night of the shooting, prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys said the FBI coerced Salman’s statement and she signed it because she was tired after extensive questioning and feared losing her young son. They fought to have it thrown out.

Jurors asked to review the statement more closely a couple of hours into their deliberations and the judge obliged, printing off copies for them.

During the trial, prosecutors said Mateen, who was born in New York to Afghan immigrants, intended to attack Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a gun in a stroller but became spooked by police and instead chose the gay club as his target.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney showed surveillance video of the Disney Springs complex that captured Mateen walking near the House of Blues club in the hours before the Pulse attack. In it, he looks behind him at police officers standing nearby before deciding to leave.

"He had to choose a new target," she said.

Salman’s attorney took the jury through the hours of her life before the attack. She called a friend and her uncle in California, saying that she was coming to visit and that Mateen would be joining them.

She talked with her in-laws, ate at Applebee’s and texted Mateen. He didn’t respond. She later went on Facebook, read a book and then texted Mateen again.

"You know you work tomorrow," she wrote.

He responded: "You know what happened?"

She wrote, "What happened?"

Then he sent his last text: "I love you, babe."

Salman did not testify in her defense.

SEE ALSO: Victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando

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Rentcafe report: Orlando tops Florida for rising apartment rates – Orlando Business Journal

Apartment renters may be seeing sticker shock when they see the rates in Orlando compared to a year ago.

That’s according to RENTCafe’s February 2018 Apartment Market Report, which showed the Orlando region saw the highest year-over-year increase in average rental rates among Florida metro areas, as well as the 11th highest increase among the 250 U.S. cities included in the study.

Orlando notched a 7.8 percent increase in average rents coming in at an average monthly rate of $1,332, the report showed.

See the photo gallery to see Florida cities ranked by one-year increase in average rents.

Apartment market statistics have a huge impact on the business community, since nearly 40 percent of Central Florida’s residents live in apartments — including lawyers, restaurant owners, hotel owners, bankers and their employees, experts previously told Orlando Business Journal. And the dominant demographic in the workforce — millennials — also lean towards apartment rentals, which means the market’s health means a lot to employers seeking top talent as well as the region’s economy as a whole.

But as expensive as renting an apartment seems in Orlando, our metro area ranked No. 93 among the the 250 cities when it comes to price. In fact, renters in Manhattan pay about three times as much at $4,063 per month, which was the nation’s highest average rent. That was followed by San Francisco at $3,428 and Boston at $3,221. When looking at percentage increase, however, two Texas cities, Odessa and Midland, had the biggest increase at 38.9 and 35.7 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, RENTCafe in a separate report ranked Florida as one of the least renter-friendly states in the country. RENTCafe determined the rankings by looking at laws related to 10 different aspects of renting, including rent increase notices, eviction policies and landlord’s access to properties.

Florida ranked 40th in the country for renter-friendly states, the report showed. Among the factors cited are a three-day termination notice for nonpayment of rent, a seven-day termination notice for lease violations, and the fact that there are no existing statutes regarding maximum security deposit or for rent increase notices for month-to-month renters.

Largest Construction Projects Underway

Ranked by Total square feet of project under way

Rank Total square feet of project under way Project 1 2.2 million Orlando International Airport South Terminal C Phase I 2 1.24 million Orange County Convention Center West Concourse roof replacement 3 925,000 JW Marriott at Bonnet Creek View This List

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Florida’s Tampa and Orlando Housing Markets Ranked First and Fourth Best U.S. Cities for First-time Buyers

Florida’s Tampa and Orlando Housing Markets Ranked First and Fourth Best U.S. Cities for First-time Buyers

According to Zillow’s 2018 Best Markets for First-Time Buyers Analysis, first-time buyers in the U.S. looking for an affordable home without much competition may have the best luck in the State of Florida, with both Tampa and Orlando ranked high in the Top 10 best cities for first-time home buyers in 2018. Texas also had 3 cities ranked high on the same list.

Zillow ranked the 35 largest U.S. housing markets based on where first-time buyers have the best chance to find an affordable home with little buyer competition and strong forecasted home value appreciation. First-time buyers make up 42 percent of all buyers, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.

The U.S. housing market is competitive for all buyers, as there are not enough homes for sale to meet today’s strong buyer demand. In January, inventory of the least expensive homes was down 17.1 percent annually, compared to a 9.7 percent decrease for all homes. In 2017, nearly a quarter of home sales were above the listed price. This puts first-time buyers at a disadvantage this home shopping season because they won’t have the capital from a previous home sale to help fund a down payment or keep up with bidding wars. Saving up for a down payment is the most commonly cited barrier to homeownership.

New buyers will have it easiest in the Southeast, especially Texas and Florida. Five of the top 10 markets for first-time buyers are in those two states. Homes in those markets require a smaller down payment, and buyers are more likely to encounter price cuts.

First-time buyers are likely to face the most difficulty in pricy West Coast markets, especially California metros. Not only are homes expensive, but inventory is especially limited, and it takes longer to break even on a home purchase.

Ten Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers in 2018

1. Tampa, FL
2. Indianapolis, IN
3. Houston, TX
4. Orlando, FL
5. San Antonio, TX
6. Saint Louis, MO
7. Philadelphia, PA
8. Atlanta, GA
9. Las Vegas, NV
10. Dallas, TX

"More and more millennials are reaching the point in their lives where they are ready to buy a home, but they are entering a highly competitive housing market that has been plagued by low inventory, especially among entry-level homes," said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. "Southeastern markets will be easiest for new buyers, where homes are more affordable and there’s less competition. People planning to buy for the first time in some of the tougher markets should be prepared to face a more competitive environment, but that doesn’t mean they should count out buying entirely."

Zillow’s list of the best markets for first-time buyers is based on five metrics:

Low median home value that requires a smaller down payment
Strong forecasted home value appreciation
High inventory-to-household ratio, to indicate available supply
Short Breakeven Horizon, which is the time it takes for buying to be financially advantageous compared to renting
High share of listings with a price cut

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A Bad Obama Labor Rule, Resurrected

The National Labor Relations Board dealt small businesses a blow on Monday when it brought back an Obama -era definition of what constitutes an employer. The reversal means that more companies will be classified as “joint employers” of their franchisees’ workers and contract staff, subjecting these businesses to greater risk and stricter regulations. Congress should end this bureaucratic meddling by passing the Save Local Businesses Act, which would provide clarity to small businesses by reinstating the old standard.

Before the Obama administration, the NLRB had long upheld a common-sense definition of who is an employer. For a “joint employer” relationship to exist, both companies needed to “meaningfully affect” the workers by participating in processes such as hiring, firing, discipline and supervision.

In 2015 an activist NLRB, dominated by President Obama’s appointees, overturned this precedent in its Browning-Ferris decision. This ruling expanded the definition of an employer to include entities with “indirect” control over job conditions. This broad standard threatened to upend the entire franchise business model, as well as all other forms of contracting.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

New NLRB members appointed by President Trump reversed this overreach last December with the Hy-Brand ruling. But two Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren, convinced the NLRB’s inspector general that the board member who cast the deciding vote had a conflict of interest, because he had previously worked at the law firm that represented the defendant in Browning-Ferris. So now the Obama-era standard prevails once more.

The definition of “employer” isn’t a mere semantic question. The NLRB’s decision to revert to the 2015 definition puts hundreds of thousands of small businesses and millions of jobs at risk. As the former chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, I saw firsthand how the franchise model empowers entrepreneurs, often from humble backgrounds, to achieve the American dream by becoming small-business owners.

I also saw how a broad joint-employer standard would disrupt this model by making franchisers liable for the countless managerial decisions their franchisees make each day. If a manager at one franchised McDonald’s location in Chattanooga commits a labor violation, the franchiser could be sued even though executives at McDonald’s headquarters don’t decide which workers mop the floors in each restaurant or how they’re compensated.

To protect themselves from lawsuits, franchisers would be forced to increase their control over every piddling labor decision. Franchisees would become owners in name only, unable to negotiate even their employees’ pay. Who would risk time and money investing in a business they were unable to manage? Discussing the Hy-Brand decision on Wednesday, White House budget director and former restaurant franchisee Mick Mulvaney noted “the joint-employer rule could be the . . . end of the franchising business as we know it.”

Left standing, this threat to the franchise system could also seriously damage the U.S. economy. A recent report by the International Franchise Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers states that as of 2016 franchise businesses helped produce 10.1% percent of all private nonfarm jobs and 7.4% of all private nonfarm gross domestic product. That’s huge.

The good news is that the Save Local Businesses Act would provide a legislative fix by pre-empting the NLRB. This is a bill that even today’s polarized Congress can pass; in fact, it passed the House last November. In the Senate, the bill’s job-creating potential should attract at least the nine Democratic votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

Although Americans often have little recourse to dispute a decision made by unelected bureaucrats, this harmful employment standard is one that lawmakers actually have a shot at fixing. Congress can protect small businesses and demonstrate its effectiveness in the process. But it must act fast before too many minds drift from policy to politics.

Mr. Puzder is a board member of the Job Creators Network and author of “The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It,” forthcoming in April.

Appeared in the March 2, 2018, print edition.

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Orlando International Airport Considers Replacing TSA with Privatized Airport Security

Airport

ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) – The fight over airport security is heating up at the Orlando International Airport.

The Orange County government is looking to get rid of the TSA and hire private contractors to operate the airport’s security measures. The TSA will still oversee the security of the airport, but the actual agents and screeners will be private contractors if the vote goes through.

Supports of the TSA do not want this and say that the TSA is doing a good job. Last year, the Orlando International Airport ranked seventh in the nation when it comes to guns and other

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