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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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The latest from St. Paul

Friday, February 8, 2019


Dear Neighbor,

The House Energy and Climate Finance & Policy Division, of which I am a member, conducted a hearing this week for H.F. 700, a bill which would raise Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 100 percent carbon-free by 2045.

The economic impacts to families and cities in our area could be devastating and we simply can’t sit back and allow extreme environmentalists to push their agenda on us. I will continue opposing this bill and any others like it that come through the House. We need to be focusing on a more sensible, all-of-the-above energy approach to help guarantee our needs are met at all times.

On a separate yet related topic, a new report from the Housing Affordability Institute indicates state regulations now account for one-third of the cost of building a new home. Yes, that’s right, if you build a $300,000 home, $100,000 of your hard-earned dollars will go toward expenses mandated by state and local policies. In the seven-county metro area, the report indicates the cost of building a new home has made it almost impossible for builders to provide single-family housing stock that costs less than $375,000.

Homes may be a bit more affordable out here in Greater Minnesota, but the point remains the same: Families, especially younger ones, are being priced right out of the market as moderately priced single-family homes vanish from the landscape.

A couple of examples the report cites: The same home in Lake Elmo, Minn. costs $47,000 more than an identical home just 10 miles away in Hudson, Wis. A new home in the Twin Cities costs up to 25 percent more than a similar home built by the same builder in the southwestern Chicago suburbs, a difference of $82,000.

The report detailed numerous land and regulatory policies that are driving up costs for new home construction in Minnesota, resulting in homes costing tens of thousands more in Minnesota than in Wisconsin and other surrounding states. By nearly every measure, the report says, new homes in Minnesota cost more than comparable homes in all other Midwest markets. Homes are being built tighter and tighter to conserve energy costs and, while that is all fine and dandy, that also comes at a cost, both from a dollars and cents standpoint and in regard to health considerations that arise in that environment.

In recent years, House Republicans have been working to cut through some of these excessive regulations. For example, an onerous requirement that fire sprinkler systems must be installed in new homes of 4,500 square feet or larger was repealed a few years ago. It’s not that sprinklers are a bad idea, but the decision to add one should be left to the consumer in consultation with their builder.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg on regulations that could be repealed and I look forward to bringing my perspective as a contractor to the table as these discussions take place at the Capitol.

I'm looking forward to spending time back in the district this weekend. Among the numerous items on my calendar last weekend were business expos in Foley and Becker. I have a packed schedule this weekend as well as I look to continue meeting with people in 15B to discuss the issues.



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