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Legislative Update: February 14, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

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.

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Legislative Update: February 7, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2017

Committee Hearings and Important Dates

The 2017 legislative session is now one month old. While only two bills have been signed into law, much work has been done at the capitol. This week committees continued to hear testimony from Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration regarding his budget recommendations, which will likely continue for the next couple weeks. The February budget forecast will be released on Tuesday, February 28, which will provide legislators with the last evaluation of the state’s fiscal picture before deciding on a two-year state budget. Once the February forecast is released, committees will receive their budget targets (meaning how much money that jurisdiction has to spend) before beginning to compile their major finance (omnibus) bills.

The House and Senate have agreed to committee deadlines, as follows:

  • Friday, March 10 – committees must act favorably on bills in their body of origin
  • Friday, March 17 – committees must act favorably on bills, or companion bills, that met the first deadline in the other body
  • Friday, March 31 – committees must act favorably on major appropriation finance bills

For a bill to be eligible to be passed into law, it must pass through either the House or Senate committee process by March 10. The bill would then have one week to be passed through the other chamber’s committee process to be eligible for a floor vote at any time before adjournment on Monday, May 22.

House Property Tax and Local Gov Finance Divisions Hears HF 414

Last week the House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division heard HF 414 which reauthorizes and makes permanent the “this old house” program of valuation exclusion for improvements to homes more than 30 years old, and creates a parallel program for improvements to commercial-industrial property.

Under the two programs, value attributable to an improvement is fully excluded in determining the property’s taxable valuation for 10 years, and then phased in after that.

The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Property Tax Report.

Legislative Toolbox – Prepare for Economic Day at the Capitol!

As session moves on, more and more people come to the capitol to discuss issues important to them with their elected officials. When a bill is heard in committee, there is usually an opportunity for public testimony to oppose or favor the proposal. Ewald Consulting has developed a guide for how to testify in committee.

More frequently, people will have a brief 10-15 minute meeting with a legislator. This tight time frame can make it difficult to articulate a nuanced position you have on an important issue. Ewald Consulting has developed a guide on how to effectively communicate with lawmakers.

Finally, while at the capitol there are dozens of things to do — but it can be difficult to know where to go to find out what is happening around the capitol complex that day. Ewald Consulting has developed a guide on how to find information at the capitol.

Bills of EDAM Interest Introduced Last Week

SF 477— Tax increment financing (TIF) technical and policy modifications

HF 631— Youth skills training program established, reports required, and money appropriated.

HF 752 — New markets grant program created, rulemaking authorized, and money appropriated.

Upcoming Hearings of Interest

Tuesday, February 07, 2017 10:15 AM

House Taxes

Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Greg Davids



Bill: HF299
Author: Swedzinski
Construction material exemption provisions modified, and refund provision added.

Bill: HF456
Author: Freiberg
Construction material exemption provisions modified.

Bill: HF757
Author: Nornes
Building material and supply purchase exemption provided.

Bill: HF605
Author: McDonald
Annual city celebration exemption provided, and threshold for duration of premises leases for nonprofit fund-raising events modified.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017 1:00 PM

Senate Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy

Room 1150 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
Chair: Sen. Jeremy R. Miller


Informational Hearing on Broadband. Testimony from:

  • Danna MacKenzie, Office of Broadband Development
  • Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Broadband Task Force
  • Brent Christensen, Minnesota Telecom Alliance
  • Marc Johnson, ECMECC
  • Tom Johnson, Nobles County Administration Office
  • Kristi Westbrock, Consolidated Telephone Company
  • Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors
  • Vince Robinson, Development Services, Inc.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017 3:00 PM

House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance

Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Pat Garofalo



Bill: HF89
Author: Anderson
Small business investment credit modified, definitions added, applicant business additional information required, priority businesses provided, allocation of credits modified, and credit made permanent.

Bill: HF649
Author: Backer
Morris; water treatment facility funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated.

Bill: HF797
Author: Moran
Business training courses target at women of color funding provided, and money appropriated.

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Legislative Update: January 31, 2017

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gov. Dayton Releases 2018-2019 Budget Recommendations

On Tuesday, January 24, Gov. Mark Dayton released his recommendation for the 2018-2019 state budget. Over the next month, legislators in both the House and Senate will introduce bills containing the language of Gov. Dayton’s budget recommendations, where they will be heard in the relevant finance committees. The February budget forecast will be released sometime next month and will provide legislators with one last look at the state’s revenue projections. After the budget forecast is released, the House and Senate leadership will designate budget targets to each of their finance committees, providing a look into where the priority issue areas are for both chambers.

Budget Proposal Specifics

Job Creation and Business Expansion

Included in Gov. Dayton’s budget proposal is a plan to strengthen both the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) and the Job Creation Fund (JCF). Both programs have had a strong history of leveraging state funds to generate private investment. Each program serves as just one tool that economic developers use across the state to attract new business as well as to keep business within our borders. Gov. Dayton is asking the legislature to invest $20 million in FY 18-19 to help restore cuts that were made to those programs last session.

Another job creation/development area that Gov. Dayton wants to bolster under his proposal is the Minnesota Angel Tax Credit. This tax credit provides a 25 percent credit to investors or investment funds that put money into new technology start-up companies. Gov. Dayton is looking to add $10 million to this program for 2019.

Along with strengthening these programs, Gov. Dayton’s recommendations also call for a $60 million investment to further expand broadband access for Greater Minnesota households and businesses under the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program.

View more details about the governor's proposals in the area of economic development.


Gov. Dayton’s budget focuses $300 million over the biennium in targeted tax cuts. The proposal includes an expansion of the existing child care tax credit to allow more families to access the credit by raising the income cap. The budget would also expand the working family tax credit to allow for roughly 107,000 additional families to be eligible to access these dollars. Gov. Dayton also proposes to provide property tax relief on agricultural property via a credit for 40 percent of the amount the property tax is attributed to the local school debt levy, and provides some relief from school bond debt for other property tax payers. Another credit proposes to provide tax relief for converting tillable land to buffer zones around water.

For local governments, the budget would provide an increase in local government aid and county program aid by $30 million over the biennium as well as $10 million to counties and watershed districts to implement water protection practices. For local projects, the proposal includes a property tax exemption for the Major League Soccer stadium in St. Paul, and local aid to the city of Madelia and Watonwan County for relief from a fire disaster.

Gov. Dayton’s budget also includes language to require reassessment of railroad properties, a boost to the Angel Investor Tax Credit, a repeal of the sunset of the health provider tax (which funds MinnesotaCare), and changing the net proceeds tax on non-ferrous mining to a gross proceeds tax. To help offset costs associated with tax cuts, Dayton is proposing to close some corporate loopholes and increase tax collections on tobacco products.

View more details about the governor’s tax proposals.


In his State of the State Address, Gov. Dayton expressed his support for additional funding to improve Minnesota’s state highways, roads, bridges, and public transit system. Gov. Dayton stated that Minnesota’s current investments in transportation are inadequate to maintain current conditions and do not provide for the needs of Minnesota’s growing population and economy. Dayton’s transportation budget recommendations include additional funding with increased revenues such as: $600 million in gas tax increases, $125 million in higher vehicle registration fees and approximately $400 million to fund mass transit by increasing the metro-area sales taxes. The governor has held firm on these recommendations since 2015 and called on legislators to pass a comprehensive transportation funding bill that would provide reliable funding over a 10-year span.

View more details about the governor’s transportation proposals.

Capital Investment

In early January, Gov. Dayton unveiled his 2017 capital investment initiatives, proposing to borrow $1.5 billion to fund the largest public construction package in state history. The proposal contains dozens of projects — including funding for water treatment systems, clean water improvements throughout Greater Minnesota, funding for improvements to Como Zoo’s seal and lion exhibits, a new state emergency operations center in Arden Hills, needed water leakage repairs for the Science Museum of Minnesota, funds for maintaining Minnesota’s public buildings including state colleges and universities as well as rail safety projects.

Commenting that this proposal is a “composite” of his 2016 requests and projects that legislators included in the House and Senate bills that did not receive final legislative approval in 2016, Gov. Dayton stated in January that he is asking the legislature to pass his recommendations early in session to provide as much time as possible for projects to prepare for the spring and summer construction season.

View a complete spreadsheet of the governor’s capital investment proposal.

Hearings of Interest

On Wednesday the House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division will hear HF 414 which deals with the Valuation exclusion for improvements to homestead and commercial-industrial property authorized. The hearing is set for 8:15am in room 10 of the State Office Building.

In the Senate, the Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy will hear from Commissioner Mark Phillips of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board at 1:00pm in room 1150 of the Minnesota Senate Building.

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Legislative Update: January 24, 2017

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Committees Still Organizing

The committee process has several stages throughout session. In the beginning of session, informational hearings provide legislators with background information and set the scope of each committee’s jurisdiction. Once the February budget forecast is released by the office of Minnesota Management and Budget, the majority parties in each chamber assign budget targets to each finance committee, which then begin sculpting their budget bills. Most of the bills passed into law are approved later in session, but committees have been hard at work getting several bills ready to be passed by their respective chambers. Here is one highlight of recent committee work.

Counties Transit Improvement Board

A joint House and Senate Transportation committee meeting discussed a proposal that would dissolve the Counties Transportation Improvement Board (CTIB) and allow the member counties (Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties) to double the sales tax collected to fund transit projects throughout the region. Currently CTIB provides one-third of the funding for regional transit projects by collecting a quarter-cent sales tax in the member counties. The meeting to discuss the dissolution of CTIB stems from the lack of state funding for transportation projects in the region, so dissolving CTIB and returning control over transit projects to an individual county level is one way being discussed to allow for more consistent funding. All five member counties would have to approve the change before dissolution can occur.

A Guide to Fiscal Notes

When a committee hears a bill that would have a cost to taxpayers, it usually requires a fiscal note to be completed. A fiscal note is a financial impact statement that is prepared by the office of Minnesota Management and Budget by working with the affected state agencies to estimate the cost of a proposal. When the cost is determined, that information is sent to the finance committee hearing the proposal in the form of a fiscal note. This being a budget year, plenty of bills heard in committee will require a fiscal note.

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Legislative Update: January 17, 2017

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tax Conformity Signed into Law

The first bill of the 2017 legislative session has passed through both the House and the Senate chambers on a unanimous vote. HF 2, chief authored by Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) and Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), will conform Minnesota individual income tax and corporate franchise tax to federal changes that have been enacted since December 31, 2014. Early on Friday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislation, making it the first bill to become law of the 2017 session. A summary of the bill’s impact on Minnesotans’ tax filings was released by the non-partisan House Research Department.

Dayton Announces $34 Million Funding for Broadband Projects

Last week Gov. Dayton announced the recipients of over $34 million in grant funding to improve broadband access to several areas in Greater Minnesota. The funding is part of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program passed into law during the 2016 session. Gov. Dayton, later in the week, also announced $500,000 in funding to 12 school districts to improve their access to high-speed internet. Lieutenant Gov. Tina Smith said at the announcement that Minnesotans can expect “robust support” for broadband funding to be a part of Gov. Dayton’s budget proposal.

House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee Hears from DEED Commissioner Hardy

Last week, DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy was front and center for the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee. In what is usually a department overview, Commissioner Hardy was invited to appear before the committee on their first day of work to provide program overviews for the committee. Both the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) and Job Creation Fund (JCF) were key pieces of the commissioner’s presentation. Questions from committee members ranged from funding amounts to history of the programs and regional splits. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be found by clicking here.

Committee Work

While tax conformity and passing relief for those facing high health insurance premiums have taken center stage, most of the work done at the capitol has been informational in nature. Finance committees have heard from industry experts and agency commissioners outlining the work they do, and detailing the jurisdiction of each committee to the many newcomers to the capitol (there are 44 first-term legislators at the capitol this year). Those finance committees have to compose a $40 billion two-year state budget by the end of May, so they will hold informational meetings before they start to hear bills for inclusion in their omnibus bill packages.

Important Links to Save

As the 2017 session moves forward the pace will quicken, and it can be easy to miss some important information on bills of interest to you. There are several ways to keep up with the legislative process:

  • Subscribe to the House Session Daily updates. They provide terrific inside information throughout the week and you can have articles sent directly to your email.
  • Do you know who your legislators are? Find out on the Who Represents Me? tool, and be sure to subscribe to their legislative updates.
  • Go to the Legislative electronic notifications page to sign up for House and Senate committee notifications, daily calendar notifications, and many other e-updates offered by both chambers’ public information offices.
  • Twitter is becoming an important facet of any capitol observer’s information stream. Follow #mnleg to see what legislators, the capitol press corps, and other key players have to say about the work being done at the capitol.

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Legislative Update: The First Week is in the Books

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The first week of the legislative session is now complete. A quick briefing of where the legislature stands as legislators were sworn in to office on Tuesday, the first day of session: the Senate will be controlled by the Republican party for only the second time since party designation was used at the legislature, with a very narrow majority of 34 members to the Democrats’ 33 members. The House Republicans boosted their numbers in the last election and now enjoy a majority of 76 members to the Democrats’ 56. The main task before the legislature is crafting and vetting a two-year state budget for all state agencies and programs. Committee deadlines will be announced in the next few weeks as they continue to hold hearings about various proposals (more on the budget process below). Gov. Mark Dayton will likely release his budget recommendations later this month, with the House and Senate caucuses releasing their budgets at a later date.

Gov. Dayton Releases Tax and Bonding Proposals

Gov. Mark Dayton has announced his first legislative proposals of 2017: a tax relief package and a bonding bill. The tax relief proposal would include nearly $300 million in cuts for more than 450,000 Minnesotans, and prioritizes federal tax conformity, the Working Family tax credit, Child Care tax credits and reducing property taxes. The governor’s office released a fact sheet that provides more detail on Gov. Dayton’s tax proposal.

When the legislature adjourned in 2016, it did so without passing a capital investment (bonding) bill, which is typically the top priority of an even-numbered year. Because of the lack of a bill, Gov. Dayton announced he would like the legislature to pass a $1.5 billion bonding bill in 2017. The governor’s office provided a comprehensive spreadsheet of the projects he would like to see receive investments from the state. Both Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) have expressed interest in passing a bonding bill this year, but have not committed to the proposition due to the fact that the legislature will be tasked with drafting a state budget of over $40 billion.

Committees EDAM Will be Working with and Following in 2017

Now that session has begun, over the next five months EDAM will be spending a lot of time working with two key committees as we advocate for economic development program funding as the legislature works to set its budget. In the House, the key committee where a number of financial and policy bills will be discussed is the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee. This committee is chaired by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) and full membership of the committee can be viewed here. This committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 3pm-4:30pm.

In the Senate, the Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee will be the key committee that we follow and work with as well. Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) is the chair of the committee and full membership of the committee can be viewed here. The Senate committee will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1pm-2:30pm.

Upcoming EDAM Legislative Visits

As legislators begin to get settled in and find their way around the capitol complex these next few weeks, EDAM will be reaching out to set a few appointments to talk about economic development funding as well as offer our services as a resource on how projects work and why funding the programs that help support projects is key to Minnesota. If you are interested in attending these meetings or have a legislator that you are close with, please let Nick de Julio know. He can be reached at

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2017 Legislative Session Begins

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session began today with the House and Senate officially coming to order to begin the 90th legislative biennium. Over the next few weeks legislators will begin to settle into the new legislative session as the begin their work on a number of topics, with setting a budget for the next two years as their top priority. To learn more about the legislators, committees and schedules for the next five months, please click on the links below.

House Information
Senate Information

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