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Our Work Building a Housing Movement Continues
As BATC has elevated the industry cause over the past three years, we’ve learned a single story or a single election victory alone cannot solve our industry’s problems. You, as BATC members, are helping to create a dynamic housing movement that utilizes our strengths, and those of our partners the Minnesota REALTORS, enabling us to build out Minnesota’s housing movement.
In fact, the Star Tribune recently mentioned how BATC’s advocacy efforts have elevated housing issues as part of the long-term discussion in St. Paul. Coverage like this brings greater awareness to our modern advocacy efforts and helps us balance our regulatory structure.
BATC will continue to directly address the many regulatory threats to the industry, while advancing our message that we must build safe, durable homes at a price that families can afford.
The Housing Discussion at the Minnesota Legislature
On Tuesday, the Legislature returned from break and immediately began their conference committee discussion. With just four weeks remaining until the legislature adjourns, the many pieces of the Minnesota Homeownership Initiative continue to bring homeownership and housing affordability to the forefront of discussions in St. Paul.
Rulemaking Review Legislative Oversight Bill Advances to Senate Floor: SF 745, a bill that would enable legislative oversight for any proposed rule that would impact a homeowner by $1,000 or more, was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. It now advances for full discussion on the Senate Floor. BATC Executive Director, David Siegel, and Tom Wiener, Builder Vice President, Cardinal Builders, have testified numerous times on behalf of this legislation. The companion bill HF 1001 has been introduced to the House General Register.
Townhome Sprinkler Definition Passes Senate: For the past four years BATC has been fighting against mandated sprinklers in any single-family or twin home construction. Following our landmark victory in BATC v. DLI where the sprinkler mandate was struck down in one and two-family homes, the industry faced a new challenge – the court decision and code definition weren’t aligned.
The 2017 legislature is addressing this technical issue with the Senate voting unanimously for HF 792 on Thursday. HF 792 would require expedited rulemaking to bring the definition of a townhome back to the national standard of three units or more, which means that sprinklers would no longer be required in two-family twin homes. This provides immediate relief and BATC will continue to seek a permanent, statutory fix to reflect the court decision.
Homeownership Initiative Included in Multiple Omnibus Bills: The Legislature returned on Tuesday to begin their conference committee discussion. In addition to stand-alone bills, the following are included in various omnibus bills: rulemaking review oversight, public notice for housing moratorium, townhouse definition, and the first-time homebuyer saving account.
Uniform Labor Standards Passes Senate: A bill that would ensure fair and consistent labor standards across the state passed the Senate with bi-partisan support 35-31 on Thursday. BATC has been a coalition member supporting this policy since 2016.
As BATC’s Political Engagement Manager, Mark Foster, is your contact for grassroots political, policy, and advocacy affairs. Follow Mark on Twitter @robmarkfoster