Legislation aims to combat rising home prices

The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tourism advanced House Bill 514 this week, legislation limiting the ability of local governments to enact moratoriums on building new housing to no more than 180 days. 

The bill, which resulted from Rep. Dale Washburn’s House Study Committee on Regulation, Affordability and Access to Housing, seeks to address the primary factor increasing the cost of housing: lack of supply. 

Washburn has worked hard on the bill throughout the legislative process, and included modifications requested by the cities and county associations, such as providing exemptions for a declared state of emergency or when a local government is conducting a study on their existing land use. 

The current bill represents compromise in many ways, and is a modest measure to increase housing to keep up with demand. 

Some senators expressed their desire to limit the moratorium to no more than 90 days, while others wished to extend the current 180 day proposal by an additional 90 days. The resulting amendment to extend the proposed moratorium by an extra 90 days failed. 

Specific concerns about the growth in Henry County were raised during the committee hearing to justify the 90 day increase. Those concerns were countered by noting their existing one year moratorium on new apartments, townhomes and duplexes. The Foundation has previously analyzed Henry County’s land use and infrastructure plans.  

While the House added language to the bill during the committee hearing that would have made the law applicable only for single-family housing bans, the committee struck that language and expanded protection to all residential development, including multifamily developments. 

One area the bill would address that was not discussed in committee are “build-to-rent” homes, commonly referred to as BTR. Build-to-rent homes represent an additional option when it comes to expanding housing supply, as rising interest rates continue to make home ownership unattainable for many across the state. 

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

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