The Capitol in St. Paul on Monday was filled with legislators, members of the general public, press, lobbyists, and more for the first day of the 2022 legislative session. This is the first time such a scene has occurred since early 2020, given that the public was not allowed in the building during the 2021 legislative session.
While the first day was filled with more formalities than actual policy discussions, committee hearings are scheduled for the rest of the week and legislators are expected to start taking up a handful of bills for discussion.
Housing is expected to be a top tier issue as the legislature looks to address the massive inventory and affordability challenges that are impacting more and more Minnesotans every day. Both policy and investments discussions are expected to take place.
However, the House of Representatives Housing Chair Alice Hausman (DFL, St. Paul) is expressing doubt about the “Legalize Affordable Housing Act” that will be introduced by Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL, Bloomington). Hausman told the Minnesota Reformer, “What cities argue is one size does fit all. And to take away local, and to dictate at the state level, is something that makes cities nervous.”†
Nevertheless, Senator Rich Draheim (R, Madison Lake), chair of the Senate Housing Committee, is far more open to having a broader discussion about the way housing development projects are zoned and approved in Minnesota. He has been a leader on homeownership policy for years and has authored many of the provisions included in Rep. Elkins’ bill in recent years. and will introduce the companion bill in the Senate.