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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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