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Legislative Update: February 28, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bill Influenced by EDAM Input Introduced in Senate

Legislation written with input from EDAM members was introduced in the Senate on Monday! SF1522, authored by Senator Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), has been referred to the Senate Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth Policy and Finance, and a companion bill will soon be introduced in the House. This bill would provide $15 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF), $12.5 million for the Jobs Creation Fund (JCF) and $10 million for the Redevelopment program. Download our project sheet of key projects that have received MIF and JCF funding.

Another bill was also introduced to boost funds to MIF and JCF.  SF969, authored by Senator Little (DFL-Lakeville) and its companion HF1626 authored by Representative Petersburg (R-Owatonna) would provide similar levels of funding for MIF and JCF but does not include funding for the Redevelopment program.

Broadband

The continuing quest for better, faster Internet connections state-wide took a step forward at the State Capitol this week, with a pair of bills being heard in the Senate related to the broadband grant program.

The bills – SF 980 and SF 235 – would modify and provide funds for the grant program, which is designed to provide better broadband to under-served areas of Greater Minnesota. Members of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee heard testimony on the bills from a number of individuals representing various interests.

Among the testimony heard by committee members were stories of small businesses in rural Minnesota losing economic opportunity for lack of high-speed broadband coverage, and parents driving their children to the parking lot of fast food restaurants in the evening, so that the kids could use high speed Internet connections to complete and send their homework. One official from a rural Minnesota community said that high speed broadband is a utility as vital as electricity and running water for modern life in the state.

Both pieces of legislation were laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

State Budget Forecast

Minnesota Management and Budget is releasing the February budget forecast today, which will provide lawmakers with up-to-date information about the state’s economic situation.  The November forecast indicated a budget surplus of $1.4 billion, and Governor Dayton said yesterday he expects today’s numbers to reflect a similar forecast.  The governor would like to put some of the surplus away in a rainy day fund and invest in early childhood education, while legislators have said they will look at tax cuts and investments in infrastructure.  For more information about today’s budget forecast, visit: https://www.mn.gov/mmb/forecast/

EDAM Day at the Capitol Recap

Last week more than 50 economic developers from across the state came together in St. Paul for the sixth annual Economic Development Day at the Capitol. They gathered to share ideas and promote their thoughts regarding the direction of economic development in Minnesota.

It was a full day of information and activity, including sharing policy platforms from five different organizations, discussing current legislation and hearing from a number of speakers. Guests included Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), chair of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee, Speaker of the House Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), DFL House Minority Leader Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy.

Following our guest speakers, attendees met with their legislators to share thoughts and ideas, and to offer themselves as a resource on economic development questions. Along with sharing policy platforms, at the forefront of the discussion and requests were a big push for funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF), Job Creation Fund (JCF) and Redevelopment Grant Funds.  EDAM, along with other stakeholders, has been working on a bill that will fund MIF, JCF and Redevelopment Grants back to full levels this session. While our bill has not yet been introduced, members spent the day setting the stage for a full push in the coming weeks.

In addition to the great education and advocacy in the morning, EDAM members took the opportunity in the afternoon to testify before the Senate Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee on SF784 which would increase funding levels of JCF and MIF.  EDAM Board Member and Chair of the EDAM Government Relations Committee Matt Brown testified on behalf of EDAM, sharing stories of how he and other EDAM members have used both programs to retain and attract business in Minnesota. Brown and others shared stories of what these programs have meant to their cities and counties.  Reaction from committee members was positive as there was strong support for funding both of these programs. While EDAM is seeking more, we will use this early support as a start and push for MIF, JCF and Redevelopment Funding this session.  

If you were unable to make it this year, we hope you will think of joining us in the future.  We still need your voices of support this session on a number of issues. Look for future action alerts and calls from us over the next few weeks.

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