Before we get to legislative news, I want to thank all those who worked to make last week’s Frostbite Festival in Fergus Falls a success. Another weekend festival is set for this weekend as Otter Tail on Ice takes place on Otter Tail Lake. This is the second year of this on-ice music festival and visitors are encouraged to check nearby resorts and hotels for accommodations … or just set up your ice house on the lake. Click here for more details and please be safe if you attend.
As for work in St. Paul, I am working on a couple of bills with local ties. One bill would provide legislative approval that is required by law for Perham to authorize the half-cent sales tax local voters approved last November for repurposing the old high school.
Another bill I am authoring is on behalf of Otter Tail County’s bonding request for funding to construct a trail from Perham to Pelican Rapids by way of Maplewood State Park. This project would be another step in completing a multi-phase project geared toward economic development via tourism. A similar trail has been a boon to nearby Glendalough State Park.
On a final note, we recently received the Housing Affordabilty Institute’s new report: The True Cost of Minnesota’s Broken Housing Market.
The gist of the report is it takes a close look at how “Up to one-third of a new home’s price in the Twin Cities is due to regulations and policies from the local, regional and state level.” This report focuses on the Twin Cities area, but the trend can be felt throughout the state. One result, as the report indicates, is that “new, entry-level and moderately priced single-family homes have all but disappeared from the landscape, leaving the Twin Cities with a housing market that is fundamentally broken and ill-equipped to meet the demands of Minnesotans.”
Anecdotally, the report says the same home in the eastern Twin Cities costs $47,000 less in Hudson, Wisc. Also, 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.
Regulations have added so much to the cost of construction that it is almost impossible for builders to provide single-family housing stock that costs less than $375,000 in the Twin Cities.
This just goes to show that regulations have gotten out of hand in our state and it is time for reform. Which regulations are necessary? Which decisions are best left handled between a builder and homeowner/consumer? Which mandates just add costs and provide no real benefits?
As always, your feedback on this issue and any others is welcome.