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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:



Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing


Commerce & Consumer Protection


E-12 Education

$300 million

Energy & Utilities


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


$900 million


$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:






$257.8 million

Health and Human Services

–$599 million

Higher Education

$149.5 million

Public Safety

$102.3 million

State Govt/Veterans

–$90 million


$1.76 billion


$586 million


–$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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Legislative Update: March 14, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 14, 2017

HF 1916: MIF, JCF and Redevelopment Grant Funding Bill Hearing — TODAY at 3PM

Today the House Committee on Job Growth & Energy Affordability Policy and Finance will be hearing HF 1916 at 3pm in room 10 of the State Office Building. EDAM will be on hand to testify in support of the bill and call on the committee to fund the Minnesota Investment Fund, Job Creation Fund, and the Redevelopment Program Fund. EDAM and Metro Cities have worked together on drafting the bill and securing committee support.

The language in the bill appropriates $15,000,000 a year to the Minnesota Investment fund and $12,500,000 a year to the Minnesota Job Creation Fund. The bill also makes a one-time appropriation of $10,000,000 to the Redevelopment Program for grants and loans to fund site redevelopment, which may include land acquisition and demolition costs.

Over the next few weeks, we will call on members to share stories and discuss the programs with their elected officials. If you want to start connecting with them now, click here to access their contact information.

Press Conference — Urge the Legislature to Restore Funding to Key Economic Development Programs

On Wednesday, EDAM and Metro Cities will be hosting a joint press Conference with our two bill authors, Sen. Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth) and Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville) to highlight SF 1522 and HF 1916, which support the Minnesota Investment Fund, Job Creation Fund and Redevelopment Grant Program with financial investments to these economic development programs. Along with our bill authors, program beneficiaries will attend the press conference to share their stories of what these programs have meant for their districts and communities, as well as to assist in the push to fund the programs this session.

If you would like to attend and share your story and experience with these programs, please contact Nick de Julio at 651-470-7957 or The press conference will take place at 12:30pm in the State Capitol Press Conference Room.

First Committee Deadline Has Passed

This week was the busiest of the 2017 legislative session so far, as dozens of committees heard hundreds of bills in order to meet the first committee deadline. Committee agendas have been jam-packed all week with as many bills as possible (the House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy committee heard over 20 bills in one committee hearing) to pass them either to the next committee stop or to the General Register (House) or General Orders (Senate), to then be voted on by the full chamber. In addition, dozens of advocacy groups have been active at the capitol promoting or fighting legislation affecting their groups. It is the busiest the newly renovated capitol has been yet this year.

For a bill to become law, it must have made it through the committee process in at least one of the chambers by the end of the day last Friday, March 10. The second committee deadline is this Friday, March 17. A bill that met the first deadline must pass though the committee process of the other chamber by that date to still be eligible to be voted on by the full body of either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Finally, all finance bills must complete the committee process by Friday, March 31 to still be eligible to be voted on by either chamber’s full body.

Check the combined legislative calendar to stay up to date on the activities at the capitol.

Check the streaming schedule in the House and the Senate to view any committee hearing of interest.

Sign up for Session Daily updates delivered by the House Public Information Office.

Mark Your Calendar!

Here is the basic schedule for the legislative session, as it currently stands:

  • Wednesday, March 15: Gov. Mark Dayton releases his supplemental budget proposal
  • Friday, March 17: Second committee deadline
  • Friday, March 31: Third committee deadline
  • Monday, April 10 – Monday, April 17: Legislative spring break
  • Monday, May 22: Session adjourns

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Legislative Update: March 7, 2017

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 6, 2017

February Budget Forecast

For the eighth consecutive time over the past four years, Minnesota has a projected budget surplus. Estimates in November 2016 had the state budget surplus at $1.4 billion over the next two years, but last week the office of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) announced the surplus has risen to $1.65 billion. MMB commissioner Myron Frans stated that the increased revenue is due to higher-than-expected returns on sales tax, and a shrinking unemployment rate.

View the MMB’s budget forecast presentation

While this is positive fiscal news for the state, both legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton expressed caution when asked about what they intend to do with the additional funds. Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) both stated they will prioritize tax relief, K-12 education, and roads and bridges in their budgets. Gov. Dayton released a budget proposal in January, so he will take steps to revise that proposal and release a supplemental version in the coming days.

Next steps in the legislative process

In the upcoming weeks, Gov. Dayton will provide an updated 2017-2018 budget proposal utilizing the new financial information. House and Senate Republicans will release their budget targets for each of their respective finance committees, which will determine how much of the state budget each area receives in the final budget. The budget must be in place by July to avoid a state government shutdown.

Senate Jobs Committee Hears Bills on Broadband Grant Appropriations

Last week the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee heard testimony on two bills that would both appropriate funds to the Border-to-Border Broadband grant program.  SF 980 authored by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) appropriates $35 million in fiscal year 2018 from the general fund for the grant program. The bill also specifies that no more than $5 million may be for grants to underserved areas. The bill also specifies that grants for projects in underserved areas may fund no more than 50 percent of a project cost. Requires grants for projects in un-served areas to have a 25 percent match. Current law allows only up to 50 percent of the project cost for all projects. Lowers the maximum grant allowed from $5 million to $3 million.  SF 980 does not yet have a companion in the House.

SF 234 authored by Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) appropriates $100 million in fiscal year 2018 from the general fund for the grant program. Simonson’s bill does not address any policy changes regarding underserved or un-served areas. In the House, HF 841 is the companion.

Support on both bills came from a number of groups and people ranging from trade associations to local government. Both bills were held over and will potentially become part of a larger omnibus bill once the committee receives its budget target.

Committee Deadlines in March

As session marches on, more work will be done on the House and Senate floors and less work will be done in the committee rooms. At this point there have been 1,735 bills introduced in the Senate and 2,065 bills in the House. The House and Senate will be moving at break-neck speed in the month of March to pass bills through the committee process. Keep up-to-date on the work being done at the capitol on the combined legislative calendar.

The first committee deadline is only four days away, on Friday, March 10. The second deadline will be on Friday, March 17, with the final deadline coming on Friday, March 31. For a policy bill to become law it must pass out of at least one of the chambers by March 10, and then subsequently be passed by the other chamber by March 17. Any bill that has a financial cost may be passed at any point up to the final deadline on March 31.

The House Public Information office has developed a brief video detailing the committee deadline process.

Legislative Tracker

To date there have been four bills have been passed by both chambers and signed into law. Gov. Dayton has a legislative tracker that shows all bills signed into law. So far, there has been a bill creating a Rural Finance Authority, health insurance premium relief, a property tax provision change and a federal tax conformity measure. The bill authorizing Sunday liquor sales is now on deck to be the fifth bill signed into law.

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Legislative Update: February 28, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bill Influenced by EDAM Input Introduced in Senate

Legislation written with input from EDAM members was introduced in the Senate on Monday! SF1522, authored by Senator Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), has been referred to the Senate Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth Policy and Finance, and a companion bill will soon be introduced in the House. This bill would provide $15 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF), $12.5 million for the Jobs Creation Fund (JCF) and $10 million for the Redevelopment program. Download our project sheet of key projects that have received MIF and JCF funding.

Another bill was also introduced to boost funds to MIF and JCF.  SF969, authored by Senator Little (DFL-Lakeville) and its companion HF1626 authored by Representative Petersburg (R-Owatonna) would provide similar levels of funding for MIF and JCF but does not include funding for the Redevelopment program.


The continuing quest for better, faster Internet connections state-wide took a step forward at the State Capitol this week, with a pair of bills being heard in the Senate related to the broadband grant program.

The bills – SF 980 and SF 235 – would modify and provide funds for the grant program, which is designed to provide better broadband to under-served areas of Greater Minnesota. Members of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee heard testimony on the bills from a number of individuals representing various interests.

Among the testimony heard by committee members were stories of small businesses in rural Minnesota losing economic opportunity for lack of high-speed broadband coverage, and parents driving their children to the parking lot of fast food restaurants in the evening, so that the kids could use high speed Internet connections to complete and send their homework. One official from a rural Minnesota community said that high speed broadband is a utility as vital as electricity and running water for modern life in the state.

Both pieces of legislation were laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

State Budget Forecast

Minnesota Management and Budget is releasing the February budget forecast today, which will provide lawmakers with up-to-date information about the state’s economic situation.  The November forecast indicated a budget surplus of $1.4 billion, and Governor Dayton said yesterday he expects today’s numbers to reflect a similar forecast.  The governor would like to put some of the surplus away in a rainy day fund and invest in early childhood education, while legislators have said they will look at tax cuts and investments in infrastructure.  For more information about today’s budget forecast, visit:

EDAM Day at the Capitol Recap

Last week more than 50 economic developers from across the state came together in St. Paul for the sixth annual Economic Development Day at the Capitol. They gathered to share ideas and promote their thoughts regarding the direction of economic development in Minnesota.

It was a full day of information and activity, including sharing policy platforms from five different organizations, discussing current legislation and hearing from a number of speakers. Guests included Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), chair of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee, Speaker of the House Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), DFL House Minority Leader Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy.

Following our guest speakers, attendees met with their legislators to share thoughts and ideas, and to offer themselves as a resource on economic development questions. Along with sharing policy platforms, at the forefront of the discussion and requests were a big push for funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF), Job Creation Fund (JCF) and Redevelopment Grant Funds.  EDAM, along with other stakeholders, has been working on a bill that will fund MIF, JCF and Redevelopment Grants back to full levels this session. While our bill has not yet been introduced, members spent the day setting the stage for a full push in the coming weeks.

In addition to the great education and advocacy in the morning, EDAM members took the opportunity in the afternoon to testify before the Senate Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee on SF784 which would increase funding levels of JCF and MIF.  EDAM Board Member and Chair of the EDAM Government Relations Committee Matt Brown testified on behalf of EDAM, sharing stories of how he and other EDAM members have used both programs to retain and attract business in Minnesota. Brown and others shared stories of what these programs have meant to their cities and counties.  Reaction from committee members was positive as there was strong support for funding both of these programs. While EDAM is seeking more, we will use this early support as a start and push for MIF, JCF and Redevelopment Funding this session.  

If you were unable to make it this year, we hope you will think of joining us in the future.  We still need your voices of support this session on a number of issues. Look for future action alerts and calls from us over the next few weeks.

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Legislative Update: February 21, 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Senate Jobs Committee to Hear MIF/JCF Funding on Wednesday

As a large group of economic developers gather at the Capitol on Wednesday for Economic Development Day, the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee will be hearing SF 784. The bill, introduced by Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids), would restore funding for MIF and JCF programs but would require that 75% of JCF program awards go to projects in greater Minnesota and would reduce JCF requirements for new jobs.

The hearing is at 1pm in room 1150 of the Minnesota Senate Building. If you can make the hearing we encourage you to stop by and support our fight to restore funding. If you are unable to make it to the Capitol on Wednesday, please take a few minutes to contact your legislators to discuss the importance of these programs and how you have used them in your district.

Workforce Housing Shortages Discussion Continues

Over the past few sessions a number of workforce housing bills have come before both the House and the Senate. Along with those bills have come a number of different opinions on what is needed and what works best for certain areas of the state. The discussions are no different this session. Last week the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee heard HF 1020, introduced by Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), that creates a refundable workforce housing tax credit and allocates $40 million of tax credit authority for investors in qualifying housing projects in Greater Minnesota. These are generally housing projects with at least three rental units whose tenants are not subject to income limits. Credits would be allocated to investors in qualifying projects by the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
Details regarding eligibility for the program under the House bill are as follows:

For investors to be eligible, a project would have to:

  • consist of at least three units;
  • cost to build, on average, between $75,000-$250,000 per unit;
  • receive more than half its financing from other, non-state sources; and
  • not include financing that requires tenants’ incomes to fall under set limits, or that is for flood recovery.

The bill would restrict project sites to:

  • areas outside the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area;
  • census blocks with more than 200 persons per square mile or in Cook County;
  • cities with at least 500 jobs, as measured by the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages; and
  • areas within 15 miles of a city where the rental housing vacancy rate has been no higher than 4 percent for two of the last five years.

The committee passed the bill out and sent it to the House Tax Committee. The Senate companion bill has not yet been taken up.

House Republicans’ Majority Grows to 77

Residents of House District 32B have been without representation in the House of Representatives since the State Supreme Court declared that former-Rep. Bob Barrett did not fulfill the residency requirements for public office. This week Republican candidate Anne Neu defeated Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Laurie Warner by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent. Just over 7,000 people turned out for the special election, which means 25 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. With the Republican victory, their majority in the House grows to 20 members, with a margin of 77 Republicans and 57 Democrats.

Representative-elect Anne Neu’s swearing in has yet to be scheduled, and it is not known what her committee assignments will be at this point. Neu is a homemaker, homeschool mother and served on the North Branch Planning Commission.

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media

Twitter has become a mainstay of communication at the capitol complex, and is used by legislators, capitol press, staff members, and even agencies and institutions. There are a number of great people and hashtags to follow in order to stay up to date on the latest news in the legislature. If you are new to Twitter, Ewald Consulting has a beginner’s guide for whom to follow on Twitter.

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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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