Trying to address the lack of affordable housing, lack of broadband internet and to improve agriculture practices, the House passed a sweeping package of supplemental appropriations and policies late Monday.
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko), HF4366, as amended, serves as the omnibus agriculture, broadband and housing supplemental finance and policy bill. Passed 70-62, the bill heads to the Senate where its version, SF4019, is sponsored by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake). A conference committee will likely be needed to work out bill differences.
The House bill would appropriate $25 million to the Office of Broadband Development for the Border-to-Border Broadband program. It would also increase the maximum amount for a project from $5 million to $10 million and increase the grant from 50% of the cost to 75%.
The agriculture and housing portions are more comprehensive.
The bill contains a $53 million increase in the current biennium for the Department of Agriculture and $3.4 million for the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute for a number of programs, and also includes provisions such as prohibiting the sale and use of plastic-coated pesticides and fertilizers and neonicotinoid-treated seeds for food, feed, oil or ethanol production.
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Proposed agriculture appropriations in fiscal year 2023, unless noted, include:
“I’m proud to present the supplemental ag budget contained in this bill,” Sundin said. “It is an historic investment in ag-related spending on top of the comprehensive bill passed last year. In deciding how to use our $60 million working target, we made a conscious effort to look forward and invest in opportunities that a changing world presents.”
The housing bill would appropriate $230 million in fiscal year 2023 and establish a $185 million base in the next biennium toward several programs. It would also include authorizing $400 million in housing infrastructure bonds and expand eligibility requirements.
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“We knew that our housing investments have to be along the entire housing continuum,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-Falcon Heights), who sponsored the omnibus housing bill that was previously incorporated into the larger bill.
Hausman said the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee, which she chairs, established four goals with its bill: building more homes that Minnesotans can afford, wanting to reduce cost for renters and create more homeowners, to save the affordable homes already available and creating services that provide pathways to more stable housing.
The additional fiscal year 2023 housing appropriations include:
The bill also includes several landlord tenant provisions, including changes that would:
“We have a housing shortage,” said Rep. Tama Theis (R-St. Cloud). “This bill does not address that. With a 183% increase in spending on housing, it does nothing to address the rising prices of homes and the low inventory across Minnesota.”
Amendments offered and not adopted would have:
“We’re talking about possible situations where around the world there could be food shortages, and we’re also talking about taking away tools that farmers use in a responsible way to raise a crop to feed ourselves, our nation and help feed the world,” said Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck), who unsuccessfully offered two of the amendments.