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Legislative Update: March 9

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 9, 2020

The fourth week of the 2020 Session is in the books and legislative priorities are starting to emerge as committee deadlines loom to help narrow the focus of lawmakers. House and Senate leaders agreed to extend the first policy committee deadline from March 13th to March 20th, but second and third deadlines remain unchanged (March 27th and April 3rd, respectively).  Both chambers are on pace to set new records for the number of bills introduced this biennium, so deadlines will cull the list of active bills, which is welcome news for lobbyists and staff. On the other hand, deadlines usually equate to long committee agendas and evening hearings.  

A number of legislative priorities we anticipated to be in play during 2020 have indeed been moving through the committee process, such as paid family leave and a large bonding bill in the House, and tax and regulation cuts in the Senate, but an unanticipated priority has also emerged: the state’s preparedness to address potential fallout from the spread of coronavirus. Governor Walz welcomed Vice President Pence to 3M last week to meet with executives and discuss the company’s efforts in producing facemasks utilized by health workers and others in slowing the spread of the virus. At the state level, health officials have requested an additional $21 million to help tackle the spread of the virus here in Minnesota. That bill (S.F. 3813) has been moving quickly through the Senate, with a vote expected on the Senate floor early this week. As if to highlight the need, state officials announced the first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota over the weekend.

The coming week will provide insight into what kind of supplemental appropriations might be in play for the 2020 Session as Governor Walz is set to release his recommendations on Wednesday March 11th. These recommendations will provide the framework for committee action on potential supplemental spending, the best possible chance for funding to the DEED Redevelopment account until the next budget year in 2021. EDAM lobbyists met last week with House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division Chair Representative Tim Mahoney to reinforce our request that supplemental budget funds be directed to the Redevelopment Grant Program. We informed Representative Mahoney that funding for the DEED Redevelopment Grant Program was identified as the top economic development priority in the EDAM survey conducted early this year. Chair Mahoney was receptive to our request, but informed us that he needs to wait and see what kind of budget target his Division receives, a decision which will be shaped by House Leadership and Governor Walz’s recommendations.

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