The Voice of Residential Construction – Advocacy Efforts in Jeff City

State lawmakers continue to consider many bills which could potentially impact the housing industry. Many of those officeholders we met with in Jefferson City on Legislative Day also continue to ask us for input regarding legislation they are called upon to consider in committee.

That occurred last week and as a result, HBA of Greater Springfield CEO Matt Morrow testified on your behalf in opposition to two bills that could negatively impact the industry and unnecessarily increase the cost of housing, putting it out of reach for many Missouri families:


On March 24, the Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 886 sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia). The bill proposes that effective August 28, 2012, the governing body of each county and municipality in this state shall adopt, by ordinance, a plumbing code that has equivalent or higher standards than the uniform plumbing code, as published by the international association of plumbing and mechanical officials, and as amended. Any county or municipality may adopt such code, or any amendment to such code, by reference as permitted under section 67.280.

Testifying in support was the Lodge of the Four Seasons Resort. Testifying in opposition was the Missouri Association of Counties, Missouri Municipal League, Home Builders Association of Missouri; Missouri Farm Bureau and the City of Eureka. Testifying on behalf of the HBA were Matt Morrow, Annie Pope and Phil Clithero. Opponents testified that this legislation would be an unfunded state mandate on county and local governments and would unlikely be enforced. In addition, opponents stated that building, plumbing and electrical codes should be decided through local control. The Farm Bureau testified that this could have a negative effect and cost on the agriculture industry. The Committee took no further action.


On March 24 the House Senior Citizen Advocacy Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1737 sponsored by Representative Rachel Storch (D-St. Louis City). HB 1737 establishes the Universal Design in Affordable Housing Act which specifies the design standards and requirements for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units so that they will be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaption or specialized design. In its main provisions, the bill:

(1) Specifies that the standards will include where the unit is located, sidewalks, parking, entries, mailboxes, hallways, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, laundry, windows, doors, stairs, kitchens, and recommendations for elements inside the unit;

(2) Prohibits exceptions to the four basic elements of universal design which are one no-step entry; minimum door and hallway width requirements; provisions for usable bathroom facilities in the unit; and at least one accessible bedroom on an accessible level which is connected to an accessible route;

(3) Requires developers using public funds for affordable housing to obtain training on universal design at their expense; and

(4) Defines “affordable housing unit” as a residential structure which a person earning no more than 115% of the median county income for the county in which the person lives, as determined by the United States Bureau of the Census, could afford if spending 29% of his or her gross annual income on the housing.

Proponents testified that a need exists for universal designed housing across the state of Missouri. Testifying in opposition was Matt Morrow, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield on behalf of the Home Builders Association of Missouri. The HBA testified that they support universal design, but believe the bill may need improvements as the language is too prescriptive. In addition, the HBA stated that a statutory requirement is unnecessary as the marketplace will respond as the need continues to grow for more affordable housing that caters to individuals with disabilities. The HBA suggested that the bill be amended to offer incentives rather than a mandate. The committee took no further action. For more on the details of this testimony, read Matt Morrow’s CEO Blog by clicking here.