On the Hill
In City Halls around the metro, at the State Capitol, and in Washington, DC elected legislators are thinking about, talking about, and proposing new regulation for the housing and real estate industry. Those officials and their staff count on the input of knowledgeable industry experts to explain real-life scenarios and impacts of those proposals. Through staff and committed volunteers, MAAR works with our city council members, county commissioners, Metropolitan Council members (as well as state and federal legislators in partnership with MNAR and NAR) to ensure that housing laws and regulations are as well-written, fair and effective as possible.
Read on to learn what’s happening in our cities, at the state legislature, and in Washington that could impact your business and your clients’ property rights.
The City of Minneapolis is working on a full revision of its Civil Rights Ordinance. The new proposal draws heavily from existing language adopted by HUD and the City of Saint Paul, but also incorporates some new ideas that could impact the housing industry.
The City of Minneapolis is considering adopting a Conservation District Ordinance. This proposal would allow property owners to petition the city to put their neighborhoods into a “protected” status, creating design guidelines on exterior property characteristics in order to preserve aesthetic and character of the neighborhoods. This proposal is authored by Cam Gordon (Ward 2).
The City of Minneapolis will be examining the adoption of an ordinance allowing “accessory dwelling units” on existing properties. These could be interior, attached or detached units that are fully equipped with kitchen and sanitary facilities. This proposal will be authored by Lisa Bender (Ward 10).
The State Legislature concluded its 2014 Session on May 16, 2014. This year, the legislature worked on several real estate-related proposals.
MNAR Licensee Education Bill Signed Into Law
Following unanimous votes in the Senate and the House, MNAR’s HF 2695, which modernizes the definition of a “classroom course” for licensee education and eliminates the final exam requirement for live simulcast and live Internet courses, was signed into law by Governor Dayton on Friday, May 16. The effective date of this law is August 1, 2014.
Sprinkler Mandate Signed by the Department of Labor and Industry
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) worked on an update to Minnesota’s Building Code. Minnesota’s code is based upon the International Residential Code (IRC), which it amends to reflect local climate and building practices. The DLI’s process to update the code featured an intense debate over the inclusion of a fire sprinkler system mandate in Minnesota’s code update.
In late October, the draft building code was released with a home indoor sprinkler system mandate for all newly built homes 4,500 sq ft (including unfinished living space) and above. This requirement remained in the final draft of the code revisions, which was signed into effect by the DLI Commissioner in June. MNAR is working with industry partners to ask Governor Dayton to veto this requirement before it goes into effect in January 2015.
Homebuyers scored a victory last week when the US House of Representatives passed HR 3211, the Mortgage Choice Act. This proposal fixes an element of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation which treated the fees charged by affiliated and unaffiliated services companies differently in calculations of a qualified mortgage, and would have especially impacted lower-priced mortgages (and therefore lower income buyers). Minnesota’s John Kline (R-MN2), Erik Paulsen (R-MN3) and Betty McCollum (D-MN4) cosponsored the bill. The Senate is expected to take up the proposal in the next few months.