In a big session for housing, Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) found himself in the middle of the action from the outset of session, stretching all the way to the final hours when the omnibus bills were finalized. Nash, former mayor of Waconia, serves as the vice chairman of the State Government Finance Committee and is an assistant majority leader for the House Republican Caucus.
As the chief author of the bill to require public notice and a hearing prior to the imposition of a housing moratorium, Nash's bill was one of the first policy measures to be heard in committee meetings held this session. Following hearings, floor votes, a veto of the bill and a final compromise to pass it into law, Nash reflected on what helped bring the issue to resolution.
"The notification requirement is just common sense. To think that a city might not do a simple notification of an interim ordinance that could shut down housing projects and in turn harm developers, builders, laborers and ultimately home owners is absurd," said Nash. "I'm glad that an overwhelming majority of my colleagues agreed, and voted in favor of my bill."
The housing moratorium legislation was long opposed by the powerful League of Minnesota Cities, but Nash and Senate author, Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville) persevered and struck a compromise.
With the multi-year battle for public notice for housing moratoria solves, Nash is looking ahead to new proposals that will benefit the housing industry. In 2017 he introduced a pilot program to encourage high school students to consider technical/vocational options in industries like housing, precision manufacturing and similar fields. The concept is modeled off of existing programs that allow students to obtain college credit while still in high school. Under the new concept, vocational post-secondary education options (VPSEO) would be made available to a limited number of school districts as a pilot project to gauge interest and develop the program.
"VPSEO is an exciting concept that we are going to refine during the interim and bring to the forefront in 2018," said Nash. "We know that many high school students are not college bound, and if we can make VPSEO a reality, students can get high school credit and apprentice experience on the job."
With housing experiencing a workforce crisis across all sections of the industry, Housing First Minnesota will be working closely with Nash and his colleagues to build a proposal that can be considered in 2018.