Committees Pick up the Pace and Begin to Find a Groove
Now that the days and weeks of finding committee rooms and new member introductions are behind us, the committees are now starting to find a groove and buzz along as we are six weeks deep into the 2017 Legislative Session. While work on the House and Senate floors has been pretty low key, the finance committees in both the House and Senate have been holding regular meetings to compile legislation into their major omnibus bills, and a number of issues have highlighted the committee hearings this past week.
Capital Investment Bill
“Is there going to be a bonding bill this year?” That has been one of the most common questions at the capitol this session, and both the House and the Senate have taken steps to make the passage of a capital investment package a reality. Last week the Senate passed SF 210, chief authored by Sen. Dave Senjem (R-Rochester), which contains the same language as the bill being discussed at the end of the 2016 session. Similarly, the House heard Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding proposal in its Capital Investment committee. HF 892, chief authored by Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), was heard but no official action was taken on the bill. This will serve as a starting point for a bill and will almost certainly receive substantial changes before being passed by the full body of the House of Representatives.
View the full spreadsheet of projects proposed by Gov. Dayton.
Informational Broadband Hearing
The Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance ad Policy Committee held an informational hearing last week on broadband. Before the committee were a number of advocates outlining broadband availability across the state and where there is still need and issues. The MN Office of Broadband Development presented an overview to the committee presenting the history of state involvement, office duties, grant purpose and awards that have been allocated.
No action was taken by the committee as there was no bill before them. We expect a number of proposals to come forward in the next few weeks and months, as the discussion will continue to grow as budget bills come together.
Restoring Economic Development Program Cuts
This past week, HF 1018, chief authored by Rep. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City), and SF 784, chief authored by Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids), were introduced that would re-allocate funds to the Job Creation Fund and Minnesota Investment Fund that were cut last session. However, compared to bills in the past, these bills include language that would require that 75% of JCF program awards go to projects in greater Minnesota and would reduce JCF requirements for new jobs. Throughout hearings and discussions the past few years, there always seems to be an ongoing discussion between where the money should go and how it should be split between the metro and greater Minnesota. We expect this discussion to be part of a larger committee debate around the funding of the programs. EDAM is meeting with committee members in both the House and Senate to share thoughts about these requirements and the programs as a whole.
The House bill was sent to the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee and the Senate bill was sent to the Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee. A hearing has not yet been scheduled in either chamber.
Mark Your Calendar
The legislature has announced that it will take the legislative spring break from Monday, April 10 through Monday, April 17. No official legislative work will take place during those dates; both the House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday, April 18.
Other important dates to note as the session continues are:
- Tuesday, February 28: February budget forecast will be released
- Friday, March 10: First committee deadline
- Friday, March 17: Second committee deadline
- Friday, March 31: Third committee deadline
- Monday, May 22: Session adjourns
Bill Introductions of Interest from Last Week
HF841 – Broadband grant program funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF 864/SF 666 – Public housing preservation and additional housing infrastructure bond issuance funding provided, senior housing added to allowable uses of housing infrastructure bonds, bonds issued, and money appropriated.
SF 778 – Corridors of commerce program eligibility requirements modification.
SF 784/HF 1018 – MIF/JCF grant program eligibility requirements modified, technical changes made, economic development grant programs funding provided, and money appropriated.