House passes housing omnibus bill, punts on zoning modernization

The legislature is spending the final weeks of the 2023 legislative session consumed with debate on various finance and policy omnibus bills. On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives heard the housing omnibus bill, HF 2335 (Howard). The bill would appropriate $1.07 billion over the 2024-25 biennium to housing-related programs.

Amendments regarding zoning heard

During the debate, Rep. Jim Nash (R, Waconia) offered three amendments that would help reduce the costs of new housing. The amendments would have allowed for consumer choice in aesthetic mandates, allowed duplexes or accessory dwelling units in all single-family zoned areas, and capped park fees imposed by local governments.

Additionally, Rep. Andrew Myers (R, Tonka Bay) proposed an amendment to require state agencies to report back to the legislature when a proposed rule would increase the costs of a new house by at least $3,000. There was no adoption of the amendments.

A number of provisions surrounding zoning modernization have been debated throughout the legislative session of 2023 in both the House and the Senate.

Housing industry raises concerns

“While there are many positive provisions in the housing omnibus bill, including monies for first-generation homebuyers, the bill falls short of meeting Minnesota’s housing needs,” said Mark Foster, Vice President of Legislative & Political Affairs. “The housing industry is begging to help address the state’s housing deficit, especially at the lower price points, but we need significant policy reform enacted at the legislature.”

Foster continued, “The amendments proposed by Rep. Nash and Rep. Myers would have been steps in the right direction. As always, when the legislature is ready to get serious on housing, we stand ready to address the underlying reasons that Minnesota’s housing costs are so expensive compared to our Midwestern peers.”

The housing omnibus bill ultimately passed on a party-line vote 70-57. The bill now goes to the Senate for discussion.