Minnesota River Builders Association and Mankato Area Foundation Announce First Grants from the MRBA Building Our Future Grant Fund

Four schools in southern Minnesota will receive some of the first grants from the MRBA Building Our Future Grant Fund of the Mankato Area Foundation.

Loyola Catholic School in Mankato will receive $6,000 to support its woodworking class and their partnership with Makerspace.  School administrators report that this is one of the most in-demand courses offered through their “Flex Friday” program, with a waitlist of students hoping to enroll.  This course allows students experience authentic hands-on learning while developing their carpentry skills.

St. Clair High School has been awarded $2,000 to support curriculum development for a new course focused on introductions to the trades, including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, welding and HVAC.

Similarly, Mankato Area Public Schools (MAPS) has been awarded $2,000 to help develop a new course focused on Geometry in Construction. Students will use this course to create an experience using geometry concepts in framing, foundation layout, surveying and green technology.

When St. Clair and MAPS have courses in place, both will be eligible to apply for further grant funding to assist in covering the costs of tools, construction materials, and field trips.

Maple River Schools will receive $1,000 as well as in-kind support from the MRBA to further develop a classroom for a robotics course where students will utilize their skills in carpentry, electrical and welding.

“We are very excited to start distributing our grant funds. Many of our area schools are working on curriculums to increase exposure to the trades, which closely aligns with the objectives of our organization.  We are thrilled to be able to support these endeavors, and look forward to watching these programs grow,” said Emmy Phillips, MRBA Board President.

“This is another wonderful example of how charitable giving can be used to address a variety of needs facing our communities.  It has been inspiring to work with the MRBA as they focus on this growing demand,” said Nancy Zallek, President and CEO of the Mankato Area Foundation.


About the MRBA’s Building Our Future Grant Fund of the Mankato Area Foundation:  Grants supporting area high schools in southern Minnesota in relation to the construction and trades industries. Grants could support educators, tools, classroom upgrades, field trips, special programs, etc.  There are 29 high schools in the MRBA service area that will be eligible to apply for grants. Schools can apply for grants through the Mankato Area Foundation website. In addition, other organizations, businesses, or individuals can also donate to help grow this fund.

Contractor Education Day Postponed

Contractor Education Day has been postponed due to the weather. The new date is Tuesday, March 21st. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@mnrba.com

Featured Member – Ryan Evenson, APX Construction


Get to know MRBA Member Ryan Evenson in the June issue of the River Valley Woman magazine. Read Article.


The Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry released the new state codes that go into effect on March 31, 2020.

Below is are links to each of the codes or click here to visit their website.

New codes effective March 31, 2020

The following codes have been approved for adoption:

2020 Minnesota Conservation Code for Existing Buildings

2020 Minnesota Residential Code

2020 Minnesota Building Code

2020 Minnesota Energy Code

Note: The 2015 Minnesota Residential Energy Code remains in effect.

2020 Minnesota Accessibility Code

2020 Minnesota Mechanical/Fuel Gas Code – Effective April 6, 2020

2020 Minnesota State Fire Code

Education Day on February 13

The MRBA will host an Education Day for all area contractors. Join us for our 7-credit offering (including energy). All courses are approved for Contractor CEU’s through the MN Department of Labor & Industry. Learn more

Attend our Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet

Join us for our Annual Banquet on Thursday, January 23 at the Loose Moose Saloon.

We will enjoy a dinner, live music and announce our award winners!

To purchase tickets, click here.

BAM Legislative Update

Housing affordability and the negative impact regulations have on home ownership and housing was the featured topic for Week 6 of the legislative session. It was a busy week and we expect to keep up same pace during Week 7. Below are a few things BAM has been working on.

Affordable Housing Hearings: There were two hearings regarding housing affordability and regulatory costs. The morning hearing in the House was comprehensive and a multi-perspective of affordability (or lack thereof) in housing. Steve Noble (CMBA & 2019 BAM President) and Mike Paradise (RAB & 2015 BAM President) did a really nice job giving concrete examples of the impact of the energy code and infrastructure funding. It has become apparent that the energy code has become a big conversation at the Capitol not only at this hearing, but in other conversations as well.  The afternoon hearing in the Senate focused more about the Price Out study that Housing First MN prepared. Steve closed the hearing’s list of testifiers with very authentic testimony and a real world perspective.  

Steve was also able to spend the day with BAM, which was great to connect with legislators and opened the door to have unique conversations about what BAM is working on. We invite you to do the same if you want to spend the morning or afternoon with us. Special guests change the conversational dynamic and help promote BAM initiatives. 

Construction Careers: Last week Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) successfully passed SF293 out of the Senate Education Finance & Policy committee and passed to the Jobs & Economic Growth Finance & Policy committee. This bill is one of our top priorities for 2019 and are now waiting for the bill to receive additional committee hearings. 

Legacy Grant Coordinated Watershed Management: This week in the Environment & Natural Resources Finance Division, HF875 authored by Representative Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood) was heard. This bill requests for legacy grant money to allow for coordinated management of the many (and often redundant) watershed permitting agencies. This bill defines what a comprehensive local water management plan is and adds surface water and groundwater interactions among other items to the list of considerations that must be made when setting priorities.

404 Assumption: SF962, authored by Senator Mathews (R-Milaca) and heard this week in the Environment & Natural Resources Finance Committee pertains to the state assuming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 Federal Clean Water Act permitting authority. The idea of Minnesota taking over the federal government’s role in this aspect of water permitting has been around for several years now and finally may be getting traction.  The bill allows for the state and federal permitting systems to be consolidated to reduce redundancy and duplication.

Construction Tax ExemptionHF7670 sponsored by Representative Mike Freiberg (DFL- Golden Valley) provides a sale tax exemption for building and construction materials/supplies brought by contractors and subcontractors for a government projects such as schools, libraries, nursing homes, and public infrastructure such as water, sewer, and road infrastructure. This bill was heard in the House Taxes Committee this week and laid over by the committee. 

BAM Priorities: BAM has 16 bills (8 House and 8 Senate) we are pushing this legislative session that are geared toward improving statewide code administration and builder licensing compliance. At this point, we have both a Senator and Representative ready to drop these bills. Additionally, we are working with the Reviser’s office with Representative Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul)’s approval to draft a bill pertaining to the best use of the funds held in the Contract Recovery Fund. We have made great progress on all of these bills and look forward to the upcoming weeks. 

Committee deadlines for 2019:  Last week the three deadlines for committees to complete their business for the session were unveiled: March 15th, March 29th, and April 12th. As a reminder the legislature must complete its work by May 20th this year. We now have one month until the first deadline so we expect committee hearings to ramp up even more in the next few weeks. 

Important Step Forward on Waters of the U.S. Rule

NAHB announced this week that the Trump administration released its proposed new definition for “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on December 11 that will resolve years of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. This represents an important victory for NAHB members.
By bringing certainty and clarity to which waters fall under federal oversight, this proposal – when finalized – should help accelerate the permitting process so home builders can more easily provide safe and affordable housing. With the nation in the midst of a housing affordability crisis, this announcement is also good news for home buyers.

The revised rule would address many of the serious concerns that NAHB had over the Obama-era regulation that went so far as to regulate man-made ditches and isolated ponds on private property. Today’s proposal would exclude short-lived ponds, streams and tributaries that only flow in response to a rain event from federal regulation. It would also exclude wetlands that are not directly connected to federally regulated bodies of water.

This new rule will help landowners to determine whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not, without spending tens of thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals. This revised rule will protect our nation’s waterways and save home builders and other industries that rely on a predictable permitting process time and money.

NAHB CEO Jerry Howard attended the event announcing the proposal by Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at EPA headquarters in Washington.

The proposal fulfills President Trump’s commitment to NAHB to end this federal overreach of the 2015 WOTUS rule. One of Trump’s earliest acts in office was to sign an executive order directing EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin the process of repealing and replacing the WOTUS rule. The action honored a campaign promise he made to the NAHB Board of Directors in 2016 when he was running for president.

The new rule will be open to a public comment period for 60 days and is expected to be finalized and instituted in all 50 states by the fall of 2019.

In the meantime, because of multiple legal challenges, the Obama-era WOTUS rule remains in effect in 22 states and the District of Columbia; the previous regulation issued in 1986, together with subsequent agency guidance, is in effect in the remaining 28 states.

Further analysis on this proposal will be posted at nahb.org/wotus later this week.

For more information, contact NAHB environmental policy analysts Michael Mittelholzer at 800-368-5242 x8660 or Evan Branosky at x8662.

Chinese Tariffs Act as a $1 Billion Tax Hike on Housing, Could Jump to $2.5 Billion

President Trump’s decision yesterday to escalate the trade conflict with China could wind up imposing a $2.5 billion tax increase on residential construction at time when builders are already grappling with higher housing costs.

Trump announced he is moving immediately to impose 10% tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $10 billion of goods used by the home building industry. This 10% levy represents a $1 billion tax increase on residential construction. Making matters even worse, the tax hike will rise to $2.5 billion on Jan. 1 when the president said the tariff rate will jump to 25% if the two nations have not resolved their differences by year end.

If China retaliates, Trump has vowed to place tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of imports — a move NAHB has strongly opposed.

Responding to this action, NAHB Chairman Randy Noel issued the following statement noting the effects this will have on the housing market and urging the White House to change course:

“President Trump’s decision to impose 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $10 billion of goods used by the residential construction sector, could have major ramifications for the housing industry. With housing costs on the rise, this action translates into a tax increase on housing that will rise even more significantly on Jan. 1 when the tariff rate jumps to 25 percent.

“Further, this tax increase is coming on top of the current 20% tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada. The lumber tariffs have already added thousands of dollars to the price of a typical single-family home.

“With America facing a housing affordability crisis, it is counterproductive to enact policies that will needlessly drive up the cost of housing. We respectfully urge the administration to change course and work to resolve these trade disputes in a manner that won’t harm American businesses and consumers.”

NAHB has been leading the charge to urge the Trump administration to resume trade talks with Canada. It is imperative to find a long-term solution to this trade dispute that will ensure American home builders and consumers have access to a reliable supply of softwood lumber at reasonable prices.

At NAHB’s urging, 171 House members sent a letter to the administration in June urging the United States to re-start softwood trade negotiations with Canada.

And in another effort spearheaded by NAHB, 12 Democratic and Republican senators sent a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week urging the administration to resume lumber trade talks and find an equitable solution that will satisfy all sides.

NAHB continues to work on all fronts to find solutions that will ensure a lasting and stable supply of lumber imports into the United States at a competitive price.

View NAHB’s analysis on how the Chinese tariffs will impact the housing sector.

For more information, contact David Logan at 800-368-5242 x8448 or Alex Strong at x8279.

Sen. Rich Draheim Authors Bill for Workforce Development Fund

Builders Association of Minnesota Executives,

I’m happy to announce that the bills asking the legislature for workforce development dollars to enhance our Project Build Minnesota efforts have been introduced in each body. The numbers are HF3810 and SF3430. The language is for $1,000,000 in fiscal year 2019 appropriated from the workforce development fund. The single-year request in 2019 reflects the second year of the current two-year budget, which begins on July 1. Additional funding requests beyond 2019 would be made in that two-year budget cycle, which will commence next Spring.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Regina Barr (Inver Grove Heights) is the chief author with co-authors Reps. Garofalo, Peterson and Nash. Of importance, this bill will initially go to Rep. Garofalo’s Job Growth Committee, so having him as a co-author is encouraging.

In the Senate, Sen. Rich Draheim (Madison Lake) is the chief author with co-authors Sens. Lang, Goggin and Johnson.

Additionally, Housing First Minnesota, ABC, BAM and MNLA have had great discussions with legislators from throughout the state during their respective days at the Capitol. Now that the bills have been introduced, they have been referred to their respective Jobs committees and await future discussion that will occur in the coming weeks.

We will undoubtedly need your support and the engagement of all of our members to make this happen. It’s never easy asking for money at the Capitol, and we heard repeatedly at our Day at the Capitol yesterday that the demands on the surplus will be powerful. We have our work cut out for us but working together with a powerful focus, I believe we can make a difference.

Please share this with your membership and ask them to talk to their local State Legislators and support these bills. Remember Project Build Minnesota is trying to reduce the construction workforce shortage that exists and help our local contractors.

We’ll continue to keep everyone informed as the process progresses.

Dennis Medo, Executive Director
Project Build Minnesota
1123 Glenwood Ave. Minneapolis, MN. 55405
612-221-9849  dennis@projectbuildmn.org