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Legislative Update: May 23, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Legislature Begins Special Session

Members of the state legislature worked late into the night repeatedly in the countdown to Monday night’s constitutionally-mandated deadline for adjournment of the session. And once again, they ran out of time, forcing overtime at the State Capitol.

As is required by state law, the House and Senate both adjourned before midnight on Monday, and will not return to a regular session until February 20, 2018. But at one minute past midnight, a special legislative session called by Governor Mark Dayton began and will run until the early hours of Wednesday morning, by which time they expect a compromised two-year state budget to be in place.

This will end the threat of a government shutdown and provide some new spending via a bonding bill, which is expected to pass sometime late Tuesday.

On the economic development front, the Jobs Conference Committee finally wrapped up work on a new bill at 2:00 a.m. Monday, with the conferees sending their compromised piece of legislation on to the House and Senate floors. It passed both bodies on Monday, and is headed to the governor for his signature or a veto.

The numbers for EDAM interests got slightly better from the version that was passed earlier in May and vetoed by the governor. View the full spreadsheet.

The House and Senate have no funding included for the Redevelopment Grant Program. Some key positive funding numbers in the bill include:

  • On Line 71 the Minnesota Investment Fund receives $25 million for the biennium ($1 million more than the initial spreadsheet).
  • On Line 74 the Job Creation Fund receives $16 million for the biennium ($1 million more than the initial spreadsheet).
  • On Line 159 the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program receives $20 million for the biennium. ($5 million more than the initial spreadsheet)
  • On Line 160 the Broadband Development Office receives $500,000 for the biennium. (no change)
  • On Line 227 the Broadband Development Office receives $200,000 for the biennium. (no change)

We will continue to update when the governor takes action on the bill.

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Legislative Update: May 15, 2017

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 15, 2017

Good News/Bad News As Conference Committee Wraps Up

The Joint House/Senate Jobs Conference Committee concluded its work last Tuesday morning, passing a bill that will be sent to the floor of both legislative bodies for a final vote. It’s expected to pass both the House and Senate (which are led by Republican majorities) and will be sent to Governor Dayton for his signature or veto.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that last Monday, negotiations between legislative leaders and the governor broke down, and the conference committee passed this bill (and several others) without an agreement with the governor’s office, so they are likely to be vetoed. As of Friday, when he headed to St. Cloud for the 70th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener, Gov. Dayton had already begun vetoing some of the bills sent his way without an overall agreement.

The jobs bill itself featured numbers slightly better than what was under consideration by the conference committee last week.

View the full spreadsheet.

The House and Senate have no funding included for the Redevelopment Grant Program. Some key positive funding numbers in the bill include:

  • On Line 71 the Minnesota Investment Fund receives $25 million for the biennium ($1 million more than the initial spreadsheet).
  • On Line 74 the Job Creation Fund receives $16 million for the biennium ($1 million more than the initial spreadsheet).
  • On Line 156 the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program receives $15 million for the biennium. (no change)
  • On Line 157 the Broadband Development Office receives $500,000 for the biennium. (no change)
  • On Line 223 the Broadband Development Office receives $200,000 for the biennium. (no change)

We will continue to update if/when the jobs bill gets to the governor’s desk.

Countdown To Adjournment Is On

The constitutional deadline for adjournment of the legislative session is at Midnight of Monday, May 22, which means the legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton have entered into the make-or-break phase of their budget negotiations. Republican leaders in the House and the Senate agreed to a joint budget proposal last week and have been working with Gov. Dayton to construct a two-year state budget that would take effect on July 1, 2017. If no budget is put in place by that date there will be a government shutdown.

Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) and Gov. Dayton have made public statements recently expressing the willingness to compromise on their respective positions, but much public venting has taken place over the lack of an agreed-upon process for negotiations and all sides are expressing frustration over the perceived lack of movement from the others. The House and Senate moved forward this week by passing their negotiated omnibus bills related to certain areas of the state budget. As of this week the House and Senate have passed their omnibus Agriculture, Education, Environment and Natural Resources, and State Government bills and sent them to the governor, who has pledged a veto for all bills in which his position was not adequately accounted.

More Cars on the Road to 2018

The legislative session is attracting a lot of the focus of capitol reporters and others, but there are still a number of public figures with their eyes set on 2018. With Gov. Dayton already declaring he will not seek re-election, both parties are keen to win the seat next year. Former gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, has announced he will seek the Republican endorsement for governor in 2018. He joins State Representative Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) as the only other notable Republican to announce their campaign for governor. There will surely be more announcements following the adjournment of session, when other local officials will run for congressional seats or other offices.

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Legislative Update: May 8, 2017

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 8, 2017

14 Days Remain

With just two weeks remaining before the constitutional adjournment deadline of the legislative session on Monday, May 22, the final stretch is upon us. Last week conference committees released almost all of their negotiated reports, representing the Republican-controlled legislature’s final proposed budget before beginning negotiations with Governor Mark Dayton.

In January, Gov. Dayton offered a complete proposal for the state budget (it was revised in March following the February budget forecast showing an increase in the budget surplus) which totaled $46.1 billion over two years with an additional $295 million in tax cuts, while the joint House and Senate budget comes to a total of $44.8 billion over two years with a $1.15 billion in tax cuts. In addition to negotiating the state budget and tax cut package, the legislature and governor have to agree to terms of a bonding bill (more on this below), Real ID implementation and the pre-emption bill that would create state-wide labor standards, among many other things.

Jobs Conference Committee Numbers Set, Negotiations on Tap

The biggest news of the week came Monday, when members of the joint House/Senate Conference Committee on Jobs met at the Minnesota Senate Building to release their spreadsheet. The numbers for EDAM initiatives are generally good. They are lower than many had hoped, but they are generally funding amounts that will allow some good work going forward. Most key numbers reflect a true compromise between the less favorable House position and the more favorable Senate position.

The full spreadsheet is available at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/6941984c-7360-4433-a38d-8addaf66aec3.pdf

Unfortunately there is no funding included for the Redevelopment Grant Program. But some key positive funding numbers in the bill include:

  • The Minnesota Investment Fund receives $24 million for the biennium.
  • The Job Creation Fund receives $15 million for the biennium.
  • The Border to Border Broadband Grant Program receives $15 million for the biennium.
  • The Broadband Development Office receives $500,000 for the biennium.

As a reminder, EDAM members are strongly encouraged to reach out to their elected officials in these last few weeks to support funding for these important initiatives.

Internet Privacy Provisions

Near the end of 2016, then-President Barack Obama established rules for the Federal Communications Commission that would prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from selling customer data without receiving consent. Early in 2017 there was a law passed at the federal level overriding the rules that were supposed to take effect later this year. In response to concerns from Minnesotans, there was a provision added to both the House and Senate Jobs omnibus bill that would limit what ISPs can do with their customers’ data without receiving their consent.

This week in conference committee negotiations the provision limiting ISPs’ ability to sell data was removed from the Jobs omnibus bill. Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound), chair of the Senate Energy and Utilities Finance Policy committee, said that while the provision has been removed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the language won’t be reattached to the bill as session continues, saying it is a “work in progress” and that “every Minnesotan’s privacy rights are the same today as they were on January 1.” Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis), who offered the provision in the House, said that he is confident the work will continue on internet privacy and he believes the work will get done to include the bill in the Jobs omnibus bill.

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Legislative Update: May 1, 2017

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 1, 2017

Jobs Conference Committee Releases Key Funding Numbers

With their self-imposed deadline of having a bill complete by Monday night looming, members of the joint House/Senate Conference Committee on Jobs met on Monday afternoon at the Minnesota Senate Building to release their spreadsheet which contains the numbers related to their plan going forward. It was a mixed bag of good and bad news, with most key numbers reflecting a true compromise between the less favorable House position and the more favorable Senate position.

View the full spreadsheet for more details.

Perhaps the most unfavorable news we learned on Monday is that the House and Senate have no funding included for the Redevelopment Grant Program. Some key positive funding numbers in the bill include:

  • On Line 71 the Minnesota Investment Fund receives $24 million for the biennium.
  • On Line 74 the Job Creation Fund receives $15 million for the biennium.
  • On Line 156 the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program receives $15 million for the biennium.
  • On Line 157 the Broadband Development Office receives $500,000 for the biennium.

In passing the spreadsheet on Monday, conferees announced they will meet again later in the week to consider amendments to the bill before sending a final version back to the House and Senate floors for a vote. EDAM members are strongly encouraged to reach out to their elected in these last few weeks to support funding for these important initiatives.

The first of two conference committee meetings last week featured testimony from several state agency heads, while the second meeting was brief and involved adopting of technical amendments. EDAM and representatives are continuing to talk with conferees about differences between the House and Senate positions on MIF, JCF, Redevelopment Funding and Broadband. 

Budget Targets Announced

House and Senate Republican leaders met with the press on Friday morning to announce their budget targets. With the constitutionally-mandated deadline for adjournment barely three weeks away now, we are rapidly approaching “crunch time” when a budget must be developed and passed into law to avoid a government shutdown.

Among the highlights of the plan revealed by Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) were a total state budget of $44.8 billion, which does not including tax relief and $300 million in transportation funding which will come from the general fund. They noted that transportation, education, and tax relief are their top priorities.

They have also set internal deadlines and expect to have final conference committee reports by Monday, May 1, which means that differences may be worked out over the weekend, and possibly behind closed doors. They hope to have overall targets to begin negotiations with Governor Dayton by Thursday, May 4.

TIF Provisions Adopted

Omnibus Taxes Conference Committee met this week and adopted General Law TIF provisions. The House and Senate Tax bills contained identical language which has been adopted and includes:

  • Definition of increment under five-year and pooling rules with an effective date that affects new certifications.
  • Modifies reference to increments in percentage pooling rule to be consistent with the new changes. Includes an effective date that affects new certifications.
  • Modifies interfund loan provisions to make it easier for cities and development authorities to make and document interfund loans. The changes include:
    • Allowing loans to be made up to 60 days after the money has already been transferred or spent.
    • Authorizing the passage of the interfund loan resolution before the TIF plan is approved.
    • Authorizes rewriting loan terms after the loan has been made if it is done before the TIF district is decertified.
    • Requires an annual report of the amount of interfund loans made and any amendments of loan terms made in prior years.

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Legislative Update: April 25, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Updated: Monday, April 24, 2017

With Four Weeks Left, Focus Is on Conference Committees

The legislature has returned from its one-week break and resumed work to complete a two-year state budget by the constitutional deadline of Monday, May 22. This week, legislative leaders appointed their members to serve on conference committees to negotiate individual portions of the state budget, which must be in place by July 1, 2017 to avoid a government shutdown.

In a letter to legislative leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton stated that he will not accept cuts to state agencies from the legislature unless they stipulate exactly what programs they would defund. State commissioners and conference committee chairs will meet throughout the process in an effort to ensure an acceptable outcome is reached for all three sides of the negotiations.

You can view a spreadsheet that outlines the positions of the governor, House and Senate as they go into budget negotiations.

What Is a Conference Committee?

When the legislature passes a bill it must be passed with identical language by both the House and Senate before it can go to the governor for signature or veto. If differences exist in the language between the House and Senate versions, a conference committee is created where each chamber receives equal membership, comprised of three to five members from each. For omnibus finance bills, membership is always five members per body. The conference committee will meet until the differences in position have been resolved and they return a conference committee report to their respective chambers.

Conference Committee Process

After a conference committee is established, House and Senate leaders each appoint a conference committee co-chair. The House and Senate co-chairs alternate holding the gavel for the committee meetings. The first meeting usually includes a walk-through of side-by-side bill comparisons by non-partisan research staff; they will highlight the differences between the House and Senate positions. Public testimony may be heard from interest groups as well as relevant provisions within the bills that may not have been included by the other body. Work then begins on resolving the two chambers’ positions.

When the committee reaches an agreement, members vote on a conference committee report that is then passed to the House and Senate for a vote by the full body, where it must receive a simple majority to be adopted. After both chambers pass identical conference committee reports (they cannot be amended once they are on the floor), the conference committee report is sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed, and in some cases, line-item vetoed

Role of the Governor

While the governor is not required to be involved in the conference committee process, they are usually involved in the negotiations taking place. Members of the governor’s administration are typically present at committee meetings to share insight into the governor’s position, information requested by legislators, and to provide expertise. State commissioners are often present as well to meet with the conference committee co-chairs and other legislators. Approval from the governor isn’t necessary on conference committee report, but they may decide to veto the bill once sent to their desk, so the position of the governor does influence the negotiations.

Jobs and Energy Affordability Conference Committee

The Jobs and Energy Affordability Conference Committee held its first meeting on Monday. Because it was the first meeting of the committee, they went through committee introduction, a walk-through of the side-by-side and spreadsheets.  Following the walk-through the committee took agency testimony on provisions in their jurisdiction.

Copies of the committee documents can be found here. Next the committee will adopt all same and similar language between the two versions of the bill. Following that, the hard work will start as the committee will have to work out their differences between the two positions. That list includes funding of MIF, JCF, Redevelopment Grants and Broadband.

Here is recap of the House and Senate positions:

Senate Position

  • Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) would receive $12.5 million in both FY 2018 and FY 2019.
  • Job Creation Fund (JCF) would receive $8 million in both FY 2018 and FY 2019.
  • Redevelopment Grant Program (RGF) would receive $1.5 million in both FY 2018 and FY 2019.
  • Broadband Development Office would receive $250,000 each year (FY 18 and FY 19).
  • Border-to-Border Broadband Program would receive $10,000,000 each year (FY 18 and FY19).

House Position

  • Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) would receive $12 million in FY 2018 and $11 million in FY 2019.
  • Job Creation Fund (JCF) would receive $5 million in both FY 2018 and FY 2019.
  • Redevelopment Grant Program (RDG) in not funded in the House bill.
  • Border-to-Border Broadband Program would receive $7,000,000 for FY 18.

The House also includes a number of policy provisions that would place a cap on the on the Broadband Development Office. This cap would limit the number of staff and their ability to administer the grant awards and would cut the mapping program.

As indicated over the last few weeks, there is still time for you to make your voices heard on these programs. Please take a few minutes to call the conference committee members. Their contact information can be found here. Here is a list of the members:
 
House
Co-Chair Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington)
Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker)
Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska)
Rep. Marian O’Neill (R-Maple Lake)
Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul)

Senate
Co-Chair Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona)
Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls)
Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound)
Sen. Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth)
Sen. Bobby Jo Champion (DFL-Minneapolis)

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Legislative Update: April 18, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017

MN Legislature Returns This Week for the Final Five Weeks of Session

The Minnesota Legislature returns this week to begin their final push towards the end of session. The 90th Legislative Session constitutionally has to adjourn by Monday, May 22, 2017. That leaves just under five weeks for legislators and Governor Mark Dayton to reach compromises on a number of budget bills as they look to pass a state budget before adjournment. If they cannot pass their budget bills before the May 22 deadline, the legislature will have to look at a specials session to pass a budget and avoid a government shutdown come July 1. While five weeks might not seem like a lot of time, at the Capitol it can seem like an eternity. So what to do and how can we help?

Last week, EDAM members received two updates calling for members to contact their legislators. If you have not taken those steps yet, we challenge you to take 5-10 minutes this week and reach out to them regarding the Minnesota Investment Fund, Job Creation Fund, Redevelopment Grant Fund and the Border-to-Border Grant Fund. These programs are critical to economic development, and the legislature needs to hear from EDAM members across the state. Let them know how you use these programs, what they have meant for your communities and why it is important to keep funding these programs and add new money to them.

Over the next few weeks we will keep providing updates as bills move forward in the final weeks. We will also continue to ask for your help as we try to avoid any potential program cuts. Thank you in advance!

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Legislative Update: April 11, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Broadband and Taxes Update

With the Minnesota Legislature on Easter/Passover Break until April 18th, the down week at the Capitol is a great time to step back and take a look at all the moving pieces and key differences between House and Senate positions. On Monday, EDAM members were sent an action alert regarding funding levels of the Minnesota Investment Fund, Job Creation Fund and the Redevelopment Grant Fund. We hope that, if these programs are key to your communities, you will help us out and contact your legislators. If you did not receive that action alert, please email Nick de Julio at nickd@edam.org

As EDAM members, you all know that we have a unique membership that has interests in a lot of policy areas. Two key areas where our membership has shown an interest in are the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program and the status of the tax bill. Like yesterday’s email, we encourage you all to contact your legislators and leadership on these issues. Here is a recap on where they are at on key points:

Border-to Border Broadband Program

The Senate jobs bill (SF 1937, chief authored by Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona)) includes a proposal for funding the Office of Broadband Development and the Border-to-Border Broadband Program:

  • $250,000 each year (FY 18 and FY 19) for the Broadband Development Office.
  • $10,000,000 each year (FY 18 and FY19) for the Border-to-Border Broadband Program.

The senate bill also lays out policy changes/limitations regarding granting awards. They are:

  • No grant awarded under this program may fund more than 50 percent of the total cost of a project in an underserved area.
  • Grants awarded for projects in unserved areas require a 35 percent match.
  • Grants awarded to a single project under this section must not exceed $3,000,000.

However, included in the bill is a policy change that allows that a local government entity may receive more than one award in a fiscal year.
The proposal in the House bill (HF 2209 authored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington)) does not go as far as the Senate's in funding the Border-to-Border Programs and puts limitations on the Office of Broadband Development. The House proposal funds the bill at:

  • $7,000,000 for FY 18 for the Border-to-Border Broadband Program.

Policy changes included in the House proposal would place a cap on the on the Broadband Development Office. This cap would limit the number of staff and their ability to administer the grant awards and would cut the mapping program.

As an organization, EDAM has concerns with the funding levels in each bill, but is very concerned with the policy changes that the House proposal has laid out. To date, the Border-to-Border Broadband grant program has resulted in over $65 million in state grants over the past three years. These grants have leveraged over $81 million in matching dollars.

If the policy language was to move forward, Minnesota could be losing or severely cutting a program that has been successful in expanding broadband across the state.

House and Senate Tax Bills

HF 4, the House Omnibus bill chief authored by Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), contains numerous items that were included in the tax bill vetoed in 2016 by Gov. Mark Dayton due to a drafting error. With the bill being well over 400 pages long, it also includes tax provisions linked to funding roads and bridges contained in the House Transportation omnibus bill, including $450 million in reprioritized General Fund vehicle-related fees and taxes.

Providing $1.3 billion in tax relief, the bill also contains:

  • Tax Increment Financing policy changes and authorizations for a number of cities
  • $585 million in reduced individual income taxes
  • $205.3 million in changes to the state general levy
  • $161.7 million in changes to the estate tax
  • $97.1 million in reduced corporate franchise taxes
  • $92.9 million in sales and use tax reductions
  • Relief for first time home-buyers
  • Sales tax exemptions on building materials for local governments and non-profits

The House Omnibus Tax Bill includes over $300 million in recommendations from the House Property -Tax and Local Government Finance Division, but does not include increases to Local Government Aid, County Program Aid or working family tax credit.

The Senate Tax Omnibus bill SF 2255, chief authored by Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), proposes $900 million in tax relief focused mainly on individual taxes, rural Minnesota and business owners.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Tax Increment Financing policy changes and authorizations for a number of cities
  • $393 million for permanent reduction to the lowest bracket
  • $64 million federal conformity for Section 179 expensing
  • $75 million for Social Security income subtraction
  • Tax credit for student loans
  • $85 million for exemption from the statewide business property tax for first $100,000 of market value
  • Phase-out statewide business property tax automatic inflator
  • Tax incentives for new small businesses to purchase equipment
  • Increases Local Government Aid to cities by $12 million for 2018
  • Workforce housing credit for 2018
  • Simplify research and development credit
  • Estate Tax subtraction federal conformity
  • First-time homebuyer program

The bill also increases the working family credit, encourages online filing and conforms to the federal government level of estate tax.

Call to Action

As mentioned yesterday, now is the time to call your legislators. As the conference committees, leadership and the Governor begin to negotiate these bills, many dollars will be shifted around to fall within an agreed upon budget. We need legislators to know about the importance of funding the Border-to-Border Broadband Program and that there are many important pieces in the tax bill that drive economic development across the state. Please take five minutes to shoot a quick email or leave a phone message.

To find out who your legislators are or to locate their contact information, please click here. We also ask that you contact Senate and House Leaders.

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Legislative Update: April 4, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Omnibus Bills Dominate the Week

With the passage of the third committee deadline at midnight of Friday, March 31, the legislature is coming to the final stretch of session, where most action will take place on the House and Senate floors, with little work taking place in the committee rooms. This past week saw both chambers meeting on the floor every day of the week passing major finance and appropriation (omnibus) bills. Finance Committees in both the House and the Senate have been in a flurry of activity, holding meetings all day to hear testimony on the hundreds of proposals included in the bills. The passing of committee deadlines means that committees will not take formal action on any bills for the remainder of the session (excluding the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee).

Every finance committee compiles an omnibus bill. What follows is a detailed description of the House and Senate jobs, taxes and transportation omnibus bills.

Job Growth

As noted last week, the House and Senate Jobs Committees have been constructing their omnibus bills over the last few weeks. SF 1937, chief authored by Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), was introduced two weeks ago and was passed off the Senate floor last week Wednesday. The bill passed with bipartisan support on a 58-9 vote. Provisions in the Senate bill include: the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) receiving $12.5 million in both FY 2018 and FY 2019 and the Job Creation Fund (JCF) receiving $8 million per year. Also included in the bill is an appropriation of $1.5 million to the Redevelopment Grant Program.

The Senate proposal also has provisions allowing for flexibility between the programs. Sen. Miller’s bill allows for $2 million that could be moved between MIF and JCF accounts by the Department of Employment & Economic Development to meet business demand. The language adjusts the qualifying thresholds to be an eligible JCF business. They are lowered for projects in greater Minnesota or for businesses with majority ownership by women, veterans, minorities or persons with a disability.

In the House, HF 2209 received two hearings last week with one hearing for public testimony and the other for members to amend the bill.   The House Jobs Committee passed the bill of committee on a party line vote and sent the bill to the Ways and Means Committee. On Monday night the bill was sent to the House floor and will most likely get heard on Thursday, April 6.

Under Rep. Pat Garofalo’s (R-Farmington) bill, MIF would receive $12 million in FY 2018 and $11 million in FY 2019. The JCF would receive $5 million in each year. No funding for the Redevelopment Grant Program was included in the bill. Like the Senate bill, there was some policy language that was included. JCF policy changes outlined in the bill would put restrictions on the JCF by limiting awards to counties where the average unemployment rate for the prior 12 months is equal to or greater than the state average unemployment rate for the same 12 months. This would eliminate communities from 31 Minnesota counties from accessing JCF funds.

Both bills include funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program. Under the Senate bill, the program is funded at $10.25 million for both FY 2018 and FY 2019. The House proposal funds the program for FY 2018 $7 million.

In the House, we are expecting to see a number of amendments offered that look to increase funding to MIF, JCF, RDG and Broadband. There will also most likely be an amendment that would remove the language that would not allow 31 counties to access JCF Funds.

Once the House acts on the bill, EDAM will be sending out an update to members asking them to contact legislators in regards to the two bills as they will be going to conference committee. We will need everyone’s help in the last six weeks of session.

Taxes

On Thursday of last week, the House passed their Tax omnibus bill, HF 4, off the floor. Chief authored by Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), the bill contains numerous items that were included in the tax bill vetoed in 2016 by Gov. Mark Dayton due to a drafting error. With the bill being well over 400 pages long, it also includes tax provisions linked to funding roads and bridges contained in the House Transportation omnibus bill including $450 million in reprioritized General Fund vehicle-related fees and taxes.

Providing $1.3 billion in tax relief, the bill also contains:

  • $585 million in reduced individual income taxes
  • $205.3 million in changes to the state general levy
  • $161.7 million in changes to the estate tax
  • $97.1 million in reduced corporate franchise taxes
  • $92.9 million in sales and use tax reductions
  • $269 million for a Social Security benefits subtraction
  • Student Loan tax relief
  • Relief for first time home-buyers
  • Refundable tax credits for foundations that provide scholarships for non-public schools
  • Sales tax exemptions on building materials for local governments and non-profits
  • Agriculture property tax credit equal to 50% of the school bond levy
  • The House Omnibus Tax Bill includes over $300 million in recommendations from the House Property
  • Tax and Local Government Finance Division but does not include increases to Local Government Aid, County Program Aid or working family tax credit.

Similarly, the Senate Taxes committee announced last week that their Omnibus Tax bill, SF 2255, chief authored by Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), proposes $900 million in tax relief focused mainly on individual taxes, rural Minnesota and business owners. 

Highlights of the bill include:

  • $393 million for permanent reduction to the lowest bracket
  • $64 million federal conformity for Section 179 expensing
  • $75 million for Social Security income subtraction
  • Tax credit for student loans
  • $85 million for exemption from the statewide business property tax for first $100,000 of market value
  • Phase-out statewide business property tax automatic inflator
  • $14 million to modify school debt service equalization aid
  • Ag property tax credit equal to 40% of the school bond levy
  • Move toward federal conformity for estate tax
  • Tax incentives for new small businesses to purchase equipment
  • Increases Local Government Aid to cities by $12 million for 2018
  • Increases County Program Aid by $6 million for 2018
  • Workforce housing credit for 2018
  • Simplify research and development credit
  • Reciprocity authority
  • Estate Tax subtraction federal conformity
  • First-time home buyer program
  • Student Loan Credit up to $700 for 2018 only

At 296 pages long, the bill also increases the working family credit, encourages online filing and conforms with the federal government level of estate tax.

Transportation

The House Transportation Finance Committee last week approved its omnibus bill. HF 861, chief authored by Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska). The House passed the bill on Friday off the House floor with a 76-54 vote.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • $6 billion in additional investments into transportation over the next 10 years by dedicating the revenue generated from the current sales tax on rental cars, leased vehicles and auto parts to transportation funding.
  • Redirects the $10 motor vehicle registration and title fee from the Environmental Fund to roads and bridges.
  • Authorizes $1.3 billion in trunk highway bonding for the Corridors of Commerce Program ($300 million annually) and state road and construction ($250 million annually) for the next four years.
  • Authorizes the use of federal FAST Act funds.
  • Uses the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) unreserved fund balances for state roads.
  • Requires MnDOT to achieve 15% efficiencies for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
  • $2 billion in general obligation bonds over the next 10 years for local roads and bridges as well as rail grade crossing improvements.
  • No gas tax increase.
  • Reduces transit funding to the Metropolitan Council.
  • Requires CTIB to 100% fund operating costs for light rail transit.
  • Prevents the Metropolitan Council or local unit of government from planning on a state share for capital costs for a light rail project.
  • Prohibits local units of government from using their own funds to study or construct a light rail project without the approval of the legislature.

View the complete appropriation spreadsheet for the House transportation omnibus bill.

The Senate Transportation omnibus bill has been approved by the Senate. SF1060, chief authored by Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) was passed off the Senate floor on Thursday, March 30.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • $3.6 billion in additional transportation investments over the next 10 years by dedicating the revenue generated from the current sales tax on rental cars and leased vehicles.
  • Dedicate 70% of the revenue from auto parts sales tax revenue to transportation.
  • Redirect state turnback funds to state roads and bridges.
  • Authorize $325 million in trunk highway bonds allocating $200 million for the Corridors of Commerce program while earmarking funds for US 12 (Hennepin), Highway 212 (Carver) and Highway 14 (between Owatonna and Dodge Center).
  • Authorizes the use of federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act funds.
  • No gas tax increase.
  • Does not provide funding to the Metropolitan Council metro area bus service shortfall.
  • Provides state’s 50% share of operating costs for any new light rail transit lines only if the state provides funding to help build the line.

View the complete appropriation spreadsheet for the Senate transportation omnibus bill.

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Legislative Update: March 28, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017

House and Senate Jobs Omnibus Provisions

The House and Senate Jobs Committees have spent the last few weeks constructing their omnibus bills, and both committees introduced their bills last week. SF 1937, being carried by committee chair Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), was heard by the Jobs Committee last Wednesday. Included in the Senate bill, the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) would receive $12.5 million in both FY 2018 and FY 2019. The Job Creation Fund (JCF) would receive $8 million per year. The bill also included $1.5 million per year for the Redevelopment Grant Program.

The Senate proposal also has provisions allowing for flexibility between the programs. Miller’s bill allows for $2 million to be moved between MIF and JCF accounts by DEED to meet business demand. The language also adjusts the qualifying thresholds for businesses to be eligible for JCF funds. They are lowered for projects in greater Minnesota or for businesses with majority ownership by women, veterans, minorities or people with disabilities.

EDAM testified in support of the bill last week and thanked Sen. Miller for restoring partial funding of MIF and JCF after last sessions cuts. We did urge the committee to keep looking deeper into restoring all funding. We will continue to keep in touch with Sen. Miller.

In the House, HF 2209 was introduced on Thursday afternoon. Under Rep. Garofalo’s (R-Farmington) proposal, MIF would receive $12 million in FY 18 and $11 million in FY 19. The Job Creation Fund would receive $5 million in each year. No funding for the Redevelopment Grant Program was included in the bill.

As in the Senate bill, some policy language that was included. JCF policy changes outlined would put restrictions on the Job Creation Fund (JCF) by limiting awards to counties where the average unemployment rate for the prior 12 months is equal to or greater than the state average unemployment rate for the same 12 months. This would eliminate communities from 31 Minnesota counties from accessing JCF funds.

As you may recall, HF 1916 and SF 1522, which were introduced and supported by EDAM, Metro Cities and Minnesota Brownfields, proposed to fund the MIF at $15 million per year over the 2018-2019 biennium. These bills also proposed to fund the Redevelopment Grant program (RDG) with $10 million over the biennium, and the JCF with $12.5 million per year.

Another key item that EDAM has been watching is the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program. Under the Senate bill the program is funded at $10.25 million for both FY 18 and FY 19. The House proposal only funds the program for FY 18, at $7 million.

Next Steps

The House took public testimony on their bill all day on Monday with about 40 organizations raising concerns. EDAM was one of those groups, and we shared our concerns with the funding levels of MIF and JCF as well as the lack of funding outlined in the bill for RDG fund. On Tuesday afternoon the committee will mark the bill up with proposed amendments and then pass it off to, most likely, Ways and Means, where they will look at the fiscal amount of the bill. From there it will head to floor for a full hearing, where it will be subject to more changes by the entire House.

In the Senate, the Senate Finance Committee passed the bill out last night and is planning to send it to the floor for a full hearing as soon as Tuesday (today). From there, we will wait for the House and Senate to start the conference committee process, where they work to make the bills match up. Look for more on this in the next two weeks.

House and Senate Announce Budget Targets – The Big Picture

In January, Gov. Mark Dayton announced a $45.8 billion budget proposal. There are several new major spending proposals in Gov. Dayton’s budget, which has been updated with the February budget forecast showing a $1.65 billion surplus.

View Gov. Dayton’s complete supplemental budget proposal.

Two weeks ago, the Senate released budget targets that prioritize education, transportation and tax relief. Health and Human Services would receive a reduction of $335 million to its department funding over the two-year biennium, while Higher Education would see a $100 million increase. Senate leaders have also chosen to commit to a $900 million tax relief plan.

Here is the complete list of Senate targets:

Committee

Change

Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing

$0

Commerce & Consumer Protection

$0

E-12 Education

$300 million

Energy & Utilities

$0

Environment & Natural Resources

–$40 million

Health and Human Services

–$335 million

Higher Education

$100 million

Jobs and Economic Growth

$10 million

Judiciary & Public Safety

$59 million

State Government

–$30 million

Taxes

$900 million

Transportation

$570 million

Veterans & Military Affairs

$1 million

The House followed suit this past Monday by releasing budget targets. Similar to the Senate, the targets prioritize transportation and tax relief. The total multi-year transportation funding numbers are still being worked out in the committee (read on for additional information). House leaders have committed to a $1.35 billion tax relief package.

For education, the House is proposing a $257.8 million spending increase. The House’s proposals would spend $1 billion less than Gov. Dayton’s nearly $46 billion two-year state budget.

Here is the complete list of House budget targets:

Committee

Change

Agriculture

$0

Education

$257.8 million

Health and Human Services

–$599 million

Higher Education

$149.5 million

Public Safety

$102.3 million

State Govt/Veterans

–$90 million

Taxes

$1.76 billion

Transportation

$586 million

Environment

–$21.3 million

Job Growth and Energy Affordability

$10.8 million

 

Transportation Plans Take Shape

The next steps for the final budget are handled by the Finance committees of both the House and Senate. These committees will work within the budget parameters given to them for their omnibus bills, which must complete the committee process by Friday, March 31. After each chamber passes its omnibus bill, conference committees will meet throughout April and May to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate positions. They must have a state budget in place by the end of June to avoid a possible government shutdown.

A major issue at the capitol in recent years has been passing a comprehensive transportation plan into law, a feat that has not been accomplished since 2008. This week both the House and Senate Republicans announced their proposals for multi-year funding to improve the transportation system in the state.

House Proposal

Led by Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), chair of the Transportation Finance Committee, the House Republicans’ plan would use existing revenue in the general fund and redirect $450 million toward transportation projects across the state, citing the state’s budget surplus as a resource to fill the gap in general fund revenue. The plan would also utilize over $1 billion in bonding over several years. The plan would create a $75 surcharge on electric vehicles. The proposal would also require local governments to be responsible for cost of operation and upkeep costs for the light rail.

Senate Proposal

The Senate Republicans, led by Transportation Finance Committee Chair Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), have announced a plan that would spend $1.3 billion over two years and create dedicated transportation funding of over $500 million. Similar to the House plan, the Senate redirects roughly $400 million in sales tax on auto parts, car rentals and leases (money currently in the general fund) to fund transportation projects across the state. The Senate proposal does not include funding for any transit projects in the state.

Tax Relief Takes Center Stage

Last week, both the House and Senate Republicans announced their proposals for comprehensive tax relief. At this stage of the session these proposals are mostly an outline of initiatives to pursue, with details to be filled in as the proposals make their way through the committee process. The House proposal is a $1.35 billion plan that would emphasize an exemption for seniors from the tax on Social Security income by increasing the income tax threshold for senior citizens. The House proposal also includes a $203 million reduction in state property tax relief for businesses and a $640 tax credit for an estimated 77,500 students paying off college loans. The Senate proposal totals $900 million and would create a permanent cut to the lowest income tax rate, which Senate Republicans estimate will impact 81 percent of Minnesotans. Limited details are available on the plan, but the proposal will focus on tax relief for middle class families, senior citizens, business owners, and students.

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Legislative Update: March 21, 2017

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 20, 2017

EDAM Pushes for MIF/JCF and Redevelopment Funding

This past week, EDAM along with Metro Cities and Minnesota Brownfields continues to advocate and push for the restoration of funding to the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) and the Job Creation Fund (JCF) along with funding and adding additional money to the Redevelopment Grant Program. On Tuesday night, the House Jobs committee heard HF 1916 authored by Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville). The bill would fund MIF at $15 million per year and JCF at $12.5 million per year over the FY 18-19 biennium along with $10 million for the Redevelopment Grant Program.

Testifying on behalf of EDAM was Duane Northagen with the Wright County Economic Development Partnership. Duane discussed the impact that these programs have across the state as economic developers are working with businesses to stay, relocate or expand in Minnesota.

A few questions were asked regarding the account balances and future funding of MIF and JCF. A larger discussion ensued regarding the administration of the Redevelopment Gran Program and the timing of when funds are released. No action was taken by the committee as the bill was laid over and will possibly be included as part of an omnibus bill.

In an effort to keep the pressure on legislators this session regarding these three programs, a press conference was held on Wednesday afternoon with our bill two authors, two businesses that have received MIF and JCF funds and EDAM President Adam Kienberger. All five speakers shared their perspective as to why these programs need to be funded to help promote the state against competitors, how the programs have helped keep and expand a number of local businesses as well as what the return in investment has meant to the state.

A copy of the press release can be found here. Along with being shared with the local and statewide media, copies were dropped off with Legislative Leadership and committee chairs.

We are still asking EDAM members to make a phone call or send an e-mail to their legislators asking for their support on HF 1916 and SF 1522. Please take a few minutes and share your experiences with the programs and what they have meant to businesses and workers in the district.

Broadband Hearings Last Week

As the House and Senate Jobs Committee’s work to hear bills for their omnibus bills, a number of proposals regarding the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program were heard. As has been the case the last few legislative sessions, there is still a big disagreement on how much should be funded this biennium. Advocates from across the state made their way to the Capitol this week to testify on bills and meet with their local legislators as they discuss the importance to funding the program to help areas and regions of the state that are underserved.

In the next few weeks we will get a feel for where the House and Senate fall when they release their draft omnibus bills.

Session Reaches Halfway Point

The legislative session is 11 weeks old, meaning it is more than halfway over. The second committee deadline passes at Midnight on Friday, March 17, which means that a policy bill must have completed the committee process in both the House and the Senate to be eligible to be passed into law. Bills that have not been passed by committee before deadline are still able to be considered in committee next year without having to be introduced, but they cannot pass into law as a standalone bill this year. 

Gov. Mark Dayton released his supplemental budget proposal on Friday, and it was highlighted by $100 million in additional funding for voluntary pre-Kindergarten (totaling $175 million) and an additional $200 million on the bottom line due to economic uncertainty. Look for legislative leadership to release their budget targets next week as majorities in both chambers begin to assemble their omnibus finance bills.

Dayton Sends Budget Letter to Legislature

In a letter sent to legislative leadership Gov. Dayton laid out what his principles and expectations will be for the last half of the session. In the letter he stated he would not accept an “arbitrary” 10 percent reduction to the state budget without stating specific reasons for that reduction to the state budget, saying legislators must “state specifically what [they] want state government NOT to do.” Gov. Dayton also requested agreement to set a joint conference committee budget target by Friday, April 28, which would leave more than three weeks to negotiate details of the omnibus budget bills before the final deadline to adjourn on Monday, May 22.

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