Housing Industry Seeks Legislative Action

Housing First Minnesota Discusses Workforce and Regulations

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As the legislature moves into the bulk of its 2018 session work, several housing measures are among the leading topics under consideration. Housing First Minnesota has prioritized housing affordability and construction workforce development as the two leading issues impacting the industry. To address these, housing industry bills have been introduced and are moving through both legislative chambers as the session approaches its mid-point.

In an early March hearing, Housing First Minnesota President Tom Wiener testified on SF 2567/HF 3044 (Sen. Kiffmeyer, Big Lake/Rep. Vogel, Elko New Market).

“As a builder for several decades, I can tell you that the recent acceleration of regulatory rules and requirements has had a major impact on our industry and ultimately on my ability to build affordable homes,” said Wiener.

The Kiffmeyer/Vogel regulatory legislation would create a means for legislative oversight on housing related regulations being created by the host of state-level departments, such as the building code and construction storm water permit. As introduced, the legislature could elect to conduct hearings and oversight on proposed changes to these regulations if they impact the projected costs for homeowners by $1,000 or more.

Industry leaders say that the regulatory pressures on Minnesota homeowners are matched by an equal and pressing need to grow the housing construction workforce. To address this, SF 3810/HF 3430 (Sen. Draheim, Madison Lake/Rep. Barr, Inver Grove Heights) have introduced legislation that would appropriate state funds to Project Build Minnesota. A newly formed non profit that focuses on raising awareness of opportunities in the construction industry among students, parents and educators.

Project Build Minnesota enters a critical phase of its growth plan in 2018, which would be elevated substantially with a legislative appropriation.

“We need to reinvent how today’s youth view the construction trades, which is why we’ve come together to form Project Build Minnesota, an organization dedicated to motivating our youth to learn more about the many benefits of pursuing a career in the building industry,” said David Siegel, Project Build Minnesota board member and Housing First Minnesota executive director.

These priorities will become part of a larger legislative discussion surrounding the top-line issues, like state borrowing for capital projects, fixes for elder care, the state vehicle registration system and perhaps the most complex, conformity with the federal tax bill. The legislature has a constitutional deadline for adjournment on May 21, 2018.