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Legislative Update: April 20, 2018

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 23, 2018
We are at the point in the Legislative Session where Finance Committees are assembling their Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Bills. In the House, the bill which is of greatest significance to EDAM members is the Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill, which had three hearings on April 18th , 19th, and 20th.

This is the bill which includes all of the Department of Employment and Economic Development accounts. EDAM’s priority focus here has been to advocate for the Minnesota Investment Fund, the Job Creation Fund, and to seek new resources for the Redevelopment Grant and Loan Program.  

The Chairman’s initial draft bill presented to the Committee earmarks much of the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) and the Job Creation Fund (JCF) resources for Fiscal Year 2019 for a number of projects that have petitioned the Legislature for assistance. In fact, there are so many earmarked appropriations that all that remains for the second year of the biennium for the Minnesota Investment Fund is $4 million and all that remains for the Job Creation Fund is $1.5 million.

On April 19th, EDAM First Vice President Matt Brown appeared before the House Committee and testified on behalf of EDAM expressing concern about cuts to the DEED funds. Matt provided testimony that spoke to his community’s use of the funds to spur economic development. He noted that the projects created high paying jobs in the community and that the state funds were vital to securing the projects. Matt cited the importance of providing consistent funding of the DEED programs to support statewide economic development efforts.  

Matt’s testimony complimented prior testimony given by DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy, as well as Charlie VanderAarde of Metro Cities, who both testified that reduction in available funds will hurt economic growth in the state. Commissioner Hardy will be submitting a letter to the Committee with detailed accounts of how the House Bill will hurt the programs and economic development in the state.

The House Committee met on Friday to “mark-up” their version of the Omnibus Bill. Representative Jeff Howe (R-Rockville) offered an amendment to restore funding for the MIF and JCF Programs. He noted how important these programs have been and that there is significant need for this type of state support. Ultimately, after making his statement, he withdrew the amendment – knowing that the Chairman would oppose the amendment. Representative Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul) echoed Representative Howe’s call for restoration of MIF and JCF funding and expressed his disappointment in the lack of funding provided in the House Bill.

The next stop for the House Bill is the Ways and Means Committee – where it is expected to be heard early next week. Then, it’s on to the Floor for action by the full House.  

We are already shifting our attention to the House-Senate Conference Committee which will be formed to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the Omnibus Bill. The Conference Committee process provides significantly greater focus on a handful of legislators. The Conference Committee will consist of five Senators and five Representatives who will reconcile differences. As soon as we know who the Conferees are in each body, we will be directing information to them outlining EDAM’s concerns and preferences with respect to DEED funding.  

Conferees could be named within a week. We will be sharing information on who is named to the Conference Committee and what message would be most effective to deliver on behalf of EDAM’s concerns.

If you have any questions regarding our reports, please feel free to contact the Fryberger office at (651) 221-1044 or send an email to kwalli@fryberger.com, srichie@fryberger.com or dtomassoni@fryberger.com.  

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