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Legislative Update: The First Week is in the Books

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The first week of the legislative session is now complete. A quick briefing of where the legislature stands as legislators were sworn in to office on Tuesday, the first day of session: the Senate will be controlled by the Republican party for only the second time since party designation was used at the legislature, with a very narrow majority of 34 members to the Democrats’ 33 members. The House Republicans boosted their numbers in the last election and now enjoy a majority of 76 members to the Democrats’ 56. The main task before the legislature is crafting and vetting a two-year state budget for all state agencies and programs. Committee deadlines will be announced in the next few weeks as they continue to hold hearings about various proposals (more on the budget process below). Gov. Mark Dayton will likely release his budget recommendations later this month, with the House and Senate caucuses releasing their budgets at a later date.

Gov. Dayton Releases Tax and Bonding Proposals

Gov. Mark Dayton has announced his first legislative proposals of 2017: a tax relief package and a bonding bill. The tax relief proposal would include nearly $300 million in cuts for more than 450,000 Minnesotans, and prioritizes federal tax conformity, the Working Family tax credit, Child Care tax credits and reducing property taxes. The governor’s office released a fact sheet that provides more detail on Gov. Dayton’s tax proposal.

When the legislature adjourned in 2016, it did so without passing a capital investment (bonding) bill, which is typically the top priority of an even-numbered year. Because of the lack of a bill, Gov. Dayton announced he would like the legislature to pass a $1.5 billion bonding bill in 2017. The governor’s office provided a comprehensive spreadsheet of the projects he would like to see receive investments from the state. Both Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) have expressed interest in passing a bonding bill this year, but have not committed to the proposition due to the fact that the legislature will be tasked with drafting a state budget of over $40 billion.

Committees EDAM Will be Working with and Following in 2017

Now that session has begun, over the next five months EDAM will be spending a lot of time working with two key committees as we advocate for economic development program funding as the legislature works to set its budget. In the House, the key committee where a number of financial and policy bills will be discussed is the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee. This committee is chaired by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) and full membership of the committee can be viewed here. This committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 3pm-4:30pm.

In the Senate, the Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee will be the key committee that we follow and work with as well. Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) is the chair of the committee and full membership of the committee can be viewed here. The Senate committee will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1pm-2:30pm.

Upcoming EDAM Legislative Visits

As legislators begin to get settled in and find their way around the capitol complex these next few weeks, EDAM will be reaching out to set a few appointments to talk about economic development funding as well as offer our services as a resource on how projects work and why funding the programs that help support projects is key to Minnesota. If you are interested in attending these meetings or have a legislator that you are close with, please let Nick de Julio know. He can be reached at nickd@edam.org

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