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Legislative Update: March 23, 2018

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 26, 2018
The Governor’s Supplemental Budget Request for the Department of Employment and Economic Development was presented in the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Finance Committee on Wednesday, March 21.  Commissioner Shawntera Hardy presented the Governor’s priorities for her Department. The presentation was very much the same as that which had been presented to the Senate Jobs Committee one week earlier. The focus was on to the Border-to-Border Broadband request, the Angel Tax Credit and an earmark of $2 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund to preserve jobs at the Verso Paper Mill in Duluth.

One development this week which is of concern is action by Chairman Pat Garofalo to remove the word “unserved” from the legislation authorizing the use of funds from the border-to-border broadband program.  “Unserved” communities were given priority treatment in the competitive process over “underserved” communities. Representative Garofalo argues that satellite service capacity renders virtually every community capable of receiving service and therefor no one is truly “unserved.”

Where there has been some considerable pushback on the Chairman’s analysis – including from rural members of his own caucus.  Nonetheless, the Chairman’s perspective is carrying the day on the House side. This issue will ultimately be resolved in the context of a compromise with the Senate over these budget items -- that’s assuming that we end up with a Supplemental Budget Bill which would be a vehicle for addressing these issues in 2018.

This week marks the first Committee Deadline at the Legislature. Policy Bills were to have cleared either the House or Senate Policy Committee by midnight, Thursday night, in order to keep moving through the process.  The second Committee deadline – the date by which bills have to have cleared Policy Committees and been referred to either a Finance Committee, Capital Investment Committee or the Tax Committee is scheduled for midnight March 29.  

The Legislature will recess on Friday, March 30 and they will be on Easter Break until Monday, April 9. The Supplemental Budget Bill will likely start taking shaping the week of April 9.

Last week, we reported that Senator Jeremy Miller had introduced Senate File 3579 which seeks an appropriation of $5 million for the Redevelopment Grant and Demolition Grant Programs. This week, Representative Tim Mahoney introduced H.F. 3968 which is the companion to Senator Miller’s Bill. Representative Miller is joined by Representative Mahoney is joined by Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) who signed on as a co-author of Representative Mahoney’s bill.

While it is unlikely additional funds will be found this Session for the Redevelopment Grant Program, having this bill introduced fosters discussion about the importance of this program and will help build the case for restoring funding in the next budget cycle.  

We will provide a report again at the end of next week when the Policy Committee Deadlines are behind us.  
 
If you  have any questions, please give us a call at (651) 221-1044 or send an email to kwalli@fryberger.com, srichie@fryberger.com or dtomassoni@fryberger.com.

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