The 2016 legislature will convene on March 8, 2016 marking the latest starting date in recent memory. Combine the late start with the Capitol renovations, election year politics, and divided leadership and you get what is expected to be a short session, possibly just 7-8 weeks. With that in mind, 2016 does not present large windows of opportunity for movement on controversial policy initiatives. It will, however, provide opportunities to defend against opposition issues and also to elevate discussions on housing affordability as we approach the 2016 elections.
Our 2016 Legislative Objectives
1. Defense – Successfully defend against harmful proposals impacting the homebuilding industry.
2. Promote Affordability – Seek opportunities to initiate proactive housing affordability concepts:
- Sprinkler Repeal
- CIC Lawsuit Reform
- Land Use Mini-Omnibus: Park Dedication Fee; Moratoria; Development Contracts
- Miscellaneous: Interconnected smoke alarm requirement; single enforcement entity forNPDES; leg approval for certain administrative actions; housing regulatory cost impact statement; express prohibition of inclusionary zoning and housing ordinances.
3. Elevate BATC and the homebuilding industry – through powerful messaging that highlights the positives that the homebuilding industry stands for.
Housing Affordability Concepts
1. Sprinkler Repeal – The sprinkler mandate repeal remains a major issue for BATC members. The positive outcome the legal challenge will impact this discussion, but opportunities could arise to look at an outright sprinkler ban and/or a requirement for interconnected smoke alarms in certain existing homes.
2. Common Interest Community Lawsuit Reform – BATC continues its work to propose lawsuit reforms and notice requirements for Home Owner Associations operating under Minnesota’s Common Interest Ownership Act. Priorities include enhanced notice requirements, HOA financial transparency/disclosure, and application of NOR communication requirements across all residential defect claims in common law and contract causes of action.
3. Park Dedication Fee – Park dedication fees continue to rise in growing metro cities. BATC has long sought park dedication reform through:
- Clarification that any fee or dedication must be directly related and proportional to the need created by the proposed subdivision or development.
- Considering a cap on the dedication/fee percentage. Related case law has made 10% a de facto industry standard. However, the underlying precedent is not directly relevant to modern development and park fee imposition.
- Consider a ‘proportionality formula’ which would ensure that a park fee assigned to new development would be in proportion to that project and not a general fund obligation.
4. Land Use Moratoria – With SW Minneapolis and Lake Elmo providing stark examples of the negative impacts of land use moratoria on housing and real estate values, an opportunity exists to elevate this discussion in 2016. The 2015 bill authored by Rep. Nash (R-Waconia) and Sen. Franzen (DFL-Edina) remains in committee and would require a standard 10-day notice, public hearing, and a super-majority of support by the voting members of a LGU prior to imposition of a land use moratoria.
5. Development Contracts – Development contracts are used in virtually every project and continue to provide a vehicle for local governments to impose fees and policies that aren’t specifically authorized in MN statutes. Specifically:
- Legislative changes limiting a city’s ability to require conditions that are not expressly authorized by statute or mutually agreed upon by all parties.
- To tie the amount of financial security a city can require as a part of the development agreement to what is direct and proportional to the work that will be completed.
6. Miscellaneous – Other concepts raised in committee discussion and through member feedback include:
- Remodel — smoke detector interconnected – energy audit required.
- Single enforcement entity designated for NPDES Construction Permit compliance.
- Legislative approval for certain Met Council and State Agency rule determinations resulting in anincrease in the price of a home by $1000 or more.
- Permitting authority LGU (city/town) required to itemize regulatory fees at time of CO anddisclose to homeowner.
- Express prohibition of inclusionary zoning and inclusionary housing ordinances.
Hennepin County Watershed Management Organizations – Rep. Hertaus has introduced legislation which would require that watershed management organizations wholly or partially located in Hennepin County be reorganized into three watershed management organizations.Met Council Governance – Various initiatives have been advanced in the MN House to alter the composition and selection of Met Council members. Movement has been far slower in the Senate, where elected membership and staggered terms has yet to find traction.
Patent Trolling – All of Minnesota’s neighboring states have adopted some patent reform measure to address this issue. The goal of patent reform legislation is to slow the number of patent infringement claims made by patent assertion entities. “Patent assertion entities” or “patent trolls” are entities that exist solely to acquire patent rights in order to send demand letters to other businesses and individuals to obtain licensing revenue for alleged infringement.
The bill would exempt institutions of higher education, companies facilitating the commercialization of patents developed by institutions of higher education, as well as patent owners using the patent in connection with substantial research, development, production, manufacturing, processing or delivery of products or materials.
Radon Certification Program – A coalition of Radon Mitigation Specialists have approached BATC to ask us to consider their upcoming legislative initiative to amend the licensing requirements passed in the 2015 legislative session. Atop their list of concerns are the duplication of fees and the administration of the program by the MN Department of Health.