2014 Legislative Session Review

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The 2014 legislative session was the shortest one in years, but nonetheless proved to be one of the most intense sessions for BATC in many years. Following our experiences in 2013 we knew we would face unique challenges at the Capitol with the DFL leading the House, Senate and Governor’s Office for the first time in nearly 25 years. Our lobbying team’s primary goal was to position BATC to successfully block or moderate proposals that would grow our already problematic regulatory footprint. I’m pleased to say that we were successful in reaching that goal, with one important exception.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the home sprinkler mandate became the focal point of our session. As it was in 2013, our attempt to prohibit the unnecessary sprinkler mandate was met with bi-partisan support from legislators from across our region and state. Also familiar was the Governor’s strong resistance and reliance on fire services’ position on this issue. The outcome mirrored the previous four years but there was a marked progress in our ability to elevate this issue and make progress toward our goal. Beyond the sprinkler mandate issue, this review contains good news of our team identifying, stopping and modifying a host of issues that would add to our substantial regulatory burden that we all navigate in our own businesses every day.

Ideally, BATC would like to be on the offensive, calling the question on the many instances of duplication and inefficiency in our regulatory structure. We believe we can be a catalyst to improve our region’s competitiveness through affordable housing for all and greater access to housing at all price points. Unfortunately, the political reality in Minnesota over the past two years doesn’t allow much space for these types of discussions. Acknowledging that, we are heavily focused on the 2014 elections which carry incredible significance for BATC and our legislative objectives. Many of our members have joined us in these efforts through the Housing First Fund, which will identify and support pro-housing candidates in Minnesota elective offices. If you are interested making a contribution or learning more about Housing First, please do not hesitate to contact our lobbying team or www.housingfirstmn.org.

We are fortunate to have a strong team of dedicated professionals advocating on behalf of our businesses. I was able to join them throughout the session and gained a greater appreciation for their work on our behalf.

Thank you to all BATC members who attended Day at the Capitol, signed our petition, made phone calls and sent emails to legislators on our industry’s behalf. These communications matter greatly to our elected officials, and taken collectively elevate our industry, our policy perspective, and bring us closer to changes necessary for our industry to thrive. This review highlights the important issues of the session. I hope you find it to be a useful member resource.

Thank you for your support for BATC and our industry.

Best Regards,

Shawn Nelson

New Spaces and 2014 BATC President