During these disruptive times, I am reminded of the old express- ion: “When life gives you a global pandemic,

make good legislation.” While COVID-19 negatively impacted our lives, the virus did us the big favor of highlighting gaps and shortfalls within the governing documents and legislation that regulate our community associations. With the worst of COVID-19 in our collective rearview mirror, we look forward to applying these “lessons learned” in 2021 as we advance the interests of our members in Harrisburg.

Not long after the initial government shutdown orders, many realized that their governing documents did not equip their associations with the essential tools to function. The early days of COVID-19 were spent trying to maintain the continuity of essential functions such as board action, member meetings and voting. We all managed to get through those days (at least until pool season was upon us).

As we continued to navigate the COVID-19 obstacles, our members started making lists of various tools and procedures that they would like to have in place prior to the next disruptive event. The Legislative Action Committee plans to share these ”lessons learned” with the General Assembly in an effort to further the interests of community associations. It is the LAC's goal to provide you with some of these tools through legislation.

18 January | February 2021

We recently learned that Representative Rosemary Brown (R- 189) wishes to introduce legislation that would impose new requirements on how community associations conduct elections. Members of the LAC saw this as a great opportunity to include additional legislative changes to further improve the operations of community associations. As a matter of fact, members of the LAC are already in discussions with Representative Brown and her staff.

We are hopeful that the public health challenges imposed by COVID-19 will spark renewed interest in passing House Bill 1892 / Senate Bill 802, which are often referred together as the Data Transparency Bill. Although hard to believe, the actual number and location of community associations in Pennsylvania are largely unknown.

While municipalities collect and maintain a host of information about residential dwellings and related infrastructure located outside of community associations, there is no requirement that municipalities collect the same data from community associations. How can public health officials properly respond to a health crisis if they are not even aware of the existence of certain communities – let alone their locations? While we previously provided the legislators with a host of public safety reasons for passing the Data Transparency Bill, COVID-19 provides a very compelling reason why this statewide blind spot should be eliminated.

While the members of the LAC are volunteers who donate their time and pay for their own personal expenses (like driving to Harrisburg), our efforts require your financial support. For example, we work with lobbyists who make sure that we use our efforts effectively and efficiently to advance your interests. Without the efforts of our lobbyists, we would not have achieved the string of recent legislative victories. Other costs include fees to attend events that allow our members to meet with legislators and their staff.

Due to the LAC's inability to host fundraising events for most of 2020, we need your support now more than ever. There is strength in numbers. If every community association, management company, and business partner made modest and consistent donations to the LAC, then the LAC would assuredly remain a productive and persuasive presence in Harrisburg.

To learn more about how to donate to the LAC, or to make a donation, please visit: advocate/support-our-efforts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Matthew C. Collins, Esq. is a shareholder with Stark & Stark, P.C. where his practice focuses on representing community associations throughout Pennsylvania. Mr. Collins resides in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and is a member of the American and Pennsylvania Bar Associations. He can be contacted at:

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