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Legislative Update: January 17, 2017

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tax Conformity Signed into Law

The first bill of the 2017 legislative session has passed through both the House and the Senate chambers on a unanimous vote. HF 2, chief authored by Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) and Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), will conform Minnesota individual income tax and corporate franchise tax to federal changes that have been enacted since December 31, 2014. Early on Friday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislation, making it the first bill to become law of the 2017 session. A summary of the bill’s impact on Minnesotans’ tax filings was released by the non-partisan House Research Department.

Dayton Announces $34 Million Funding for Broadband Projects

Last week Gov. Dayton announced the recipients of over $34 million in grant funding to improve broadband access to several areas in Greater Minnesota. The funding is part of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program passed into law during the 2016 session. Gov. Dayton, later in the week, also announced $500,000 in funding to 12 school districts to improve their access to high-speed internet. Lieutenant Gov. Tina Smith said at the announcement that Minnesotans can expect “robust support” for broadband funding to be a part of Gov. Dayton’s budget proposal.

House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee Hears from DEED Commissioner Hardy

Last week, DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy was front and center for the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee. In what is usually a department overview, Commissioner Hardy was invited to appear before the committee on their first day of work to provide program overviews for the committee. Both the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) and Job Creation Fund (JCF) were key pieces of the commissioner’s presentation. Questions from committee members ranged from funding amounts to history of the programs and regional splits. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be found by clicking here.

Committee Work

While tax conformity and passing relief for those facing high health insurance premiums have taken center stage, most of the work done at the capitol has been informational in nature. Finance committees have heard from industry experts and agency commissioners outlining the work they do, and detailing the jurisdiction of each committee to the many newcomers to the capitol (there are 44 first-term legislators at the capitol this year). Those finance committees have to compose a $40 billion two-year state budget by the end of May, so they will hold informational meetings before they start to hear bills for inclusion in their omnibus bill packages.

Important Links to Save

As the 2017 session moves forward the pace will quicken, and it can be easy to miss some important information on bills of interest to you. There are several ways to keep up with the legislative process:

  • Subscribe to the House Session Daily updates. They provide terrific inside information throughout the week and you can have articles sent directly to your email.
  • Do you know who your legislators are? Find out on the Who Represents Me? tool, and be sure to subscribe to their legislative updates.
  • Go to the Legislative electronic notifications page to sign up for House and Senate committee notifications, daily calendar notifications, and many other e-updates offered by both chambers’ public information offices.
  • Twitter is becoming an important facet of any capitol observer’s information stream. Follow #mnleg to see what legislators, the capitol press corps, and other key players have to say about the work being done at the capitol.

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