Q&A with Rep. Shane Mekeland

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Rep. Shane Mekeland Discusses Housing Regulations

Rep. Shane Mekeland is a residential building general contractor. He represents District 15B which includes Becker, Rice and Foley.

Q: As a new state representative, what are some of your legislative priorities?

A: My priority is to reduce duplicitous, unnecessary regulations. A great plan to be instituted on a federal level is that for every new regulation, two must be removed. Return our health insurance back to the free market with the safety nets in place for those with pre-existing conditions and that are financially unable. Rising costs are forcing many small business owners to take jobs that offer insurance benefits. And finally, to put emphasis on teaching trades and tech in our public schools – all trades, not just housing/building – and to educate our next generation that it is okay to not attend colleges and universities.

Q: How do you plan to use your experience as a residential homebuilder to assist with your work at the Capitol?

A: With all of the focus on affordable housing, I have talked with some of the freshman representatives about the overburdensome and duplicitous regulations that continue to drive up cost. The lack of tech in our public schools (K-12), the shortage of young people entering the trades as the older generation exits, the push for a higher minimum wage, the rising cost of permits, the never-ending list of licenses required from multiple state departments and many other factors contribute to the rising cost of doing business in our occupation. Many are not even remotely aware of the effect these have. As I was explaining a few different negative impacts of some of the newer regulations, some of them said that they never would have thought of that – only the consumer protection side.

Some of the new representatives from the other side of the aisle seem receptive to the issues I shared with them, others felt a lot of these will be fixed with more government. In my years of being a general contractor, naturally not all customers are like-minded, and it’s always been my position to inform and teach my customers, to provide foresight, and to have a unified plan going forward to produce a sound product with time and cost efficiency.

Q: Former Gov. Dayton’s Housing Task Force recently announced that the homebuilding industry needs to increase production in order to meet Minnesota’s housing needs. How can the legislature assist in making this happen?

A: The problem, as I see it, is that we have entered the perfect storm: the lack of tech in our public schools, the stigma that everyone needs a four-year degree, the vast exit from our older generation and the rising cost of doing business in Minnesota. The risk for many is not worth the reward. I have several friends that have left the trades due to rising costs, for many it was the healthcare insurance, contractors insurance and state fees. I personally stopped working on pre-1974 homes due to risk vs. reward.