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Legislative Update: February 21, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Senate Jobs Committee to Hear MIF/JCF Funding on Wednesday

As a large group of economic developers gather at the Capitol on Wednesday for Economic Development Day, the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee will be hearing SF 784. The bill, introduced by Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids), would restore funding for MIF and JCF programs but would require that 75% of JCF program awards go to projects in greater Minnesota and would reduce JCF requirements for new jobs.

The hearing is at 1pm in room 1150 of the Minnesota Senate Building. If you can make the hearing we encourage you to stop by and support our fight to restore funding. If you are unable to make it to the Capitol on Wednesday, please take a few minutes to contact your legislators to discuss the importance of these programs and how you have used them in your district.

Workforce Housing Shortages Discussion Continues

Over the past few sessions a number of workforce housing bills have come before both the House and the Senate. Along with those bills have come a number of different opinions on what is needed and what works best for certain areas of the state. The discussions are no different this session. Last week the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee heard HF 1020, introduced by Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), that creates a refundable workforce housing tax credit and allocates $40 million of tax credit authority for investors in qualifying housing projects in Greater Minnesota. These are generally housing projects with at least three rental units whose tenants are not subject to income limits. Credits would be allocated to investors in qualifying projects by the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
Details regarding eligibility for the program under the House bill are as follows:

For investors to be eligible, a project would have to:

  • consist of at least three units;
  • cost to build, on average, between $75,000-$250,000 per unit;
  • receive more than half its financing from other, non-state sources; and
  • not include financing that requires tenants’ incomes to fall under set limits, or that is for flood recovery.

The bill would restrict project sites to:

  • areas outside the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area;
  • census blocks with more than 200 persons per square mile or in Cook County;
  • cities with at least 500 jobs, as measured by the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages; and
  • areas within 15 miles of a city where the rental housing vacancy rate has been no higher than 4 percent for two of the last five years.

The committee passed the bill out and sent it to the House Tax Committee. The Senate companion bill has not yet been taken up.

House Republicans’ Majority Grows to 77

Residents of House District 32B have been without representation in the House of Representatives since the State Supreme Court declared that former-Rep. Bob Barrett did not fulfill the residency requirements for public office. This week Republican candidate Anne Neu defeated Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Laurie Warner by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent. Just over 7,000 people turned out for the special election, which means 25 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. With the Republican victory, their majority in the House grows to 20 members, with a margin of 77 Republicans and 57 Democrats.

Representative-elect Anne Neu’s swearing in has yet to be scheduled, and it is not known what her committee assignments will be at this point. Neu is a homemaker, homeschool mother and served on the North Branch Planning Commission.

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media

Twitter has become a mainstay of communication at the capitol complex, and is used by legislators, capitol press, staff members, and even agencies and institutions. There are a number of great people and hashtags to follow in order to stay up to date on the latest news in the legislature. If you are new to Twitter, Ewald Consulting has a beginner’s guide for whom to follow on Twitter.

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