State Win, National Win: A Good News Report
Good news with statewide implication comes to us from Willmar, MN. The Builders Association of Minnesota (BAM) and West Central Builders Association (WCBA) successfully stopped the increase of building permit fees by the Willmar City Council in August.
The Willmar City Council put increased building permit fees on their agenda for its August 18 meeting. Ironically, not only did the City not have evidence that it needed to increase fees to cover the cost of services rendered, the City also had not reported its construction and development fees in four years. Minnesota law requires building permit fees be used only for the purpose for which they are collected.
In response, BAM and WCBA wrote a letter to the Willmar mayor, councilmembers, City administrator and City attorney providing a reminder that Minnesota law requires all construction and development related fees be reported and that the law prohibits the use of building permit revenue for purposes other than which they are collected.
The letter urged the City to carefully review the revenue and expenditures related to its building permit fees, and then, and only then, should it consider an increase if it’s clearly necessary to support the services for which they are collected. The letter referenced BAM’s successful case against both the Cities of Shakopee and Elk River for diverting building permit revenues to other uses.
The City Council unanimously voted the increase down.
This is an example of the advocacy support BAM can provide members when issues come up with local municipalities. Ask the builders in Willmar and they will assure you this is a true benefit of membership.
These kinds of issues come up statewide, and BAM is here to help. If your local association doesn’t have designated government affairs staff, track down and read your city council agendas. If an issue comes up give BAM a call and we’ll lend a hand.
Special thanks to BAM President Chad Kompelien, WCBA President Charles Holmquist, and WCBA Executive Officer Nancy Lohn for their work in defeating this permit fee increase. Read the letter here.
National Win, H.R. 5078 Passes U.S. House
BAM members Mike Gohman, Tama Theis, Dale Gruber, Chad Kompelien, CMBA’s Jane DeAustin and BAM’s Remi Stone met with Colin Peterson last Friday asking for his help on the federal EPA’s wetlands and waters of the United States regulatory overreach. Congressman Peterson is one of the leaders in moving legislation to stop this government grab and he supports the industry on this serious environmental issue.
The proposed rule would significantly expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act, and would inappropriately extend federal power and place more top-down regulatory burdens on all types of land use activities. Minnesota is actively engaged in protecting and improving water quality, and the EPA’s implication that only federal government is capable of protecting small bodies of water is not supported by science or fact. In addition to government overreach, the proposed rule would increase regulatory roadblocks and make it more difficult or impossible to farm, build homes, or make other changes to land in many areas.
BAM joined the Farm Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and 20 other organizations requesting Minnesota’s entire Congressional Delegation to support these efforts. A sample of that letter (this one addressed to Congressman Walz) can be read here.
The Good News is that on September 9, 2014 the U.S. House passed H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, by a vote of 262 to 152. In total, 227 Republicans joined with 35 Democrats to pass the bill. See how your member of Congress voted by following this link: https://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll489.xml
This provision in H.R. 5078 will halt the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed rule on “waters of the U.S.” and force the agencies to go back to the drawing board to craft a balanced rule that respects both congressional intent and Supreme Court precedent.
Following this strong, bipartisan vote, the industry and its peers now turn to the US Senate to urge them to consider the House-passed bill and slow down the EPA’s flow of bad water regulation.« Previous Post Next Post »