Advocacy News | April 1, 2021

Four thousand, seven hundred and fifty-seven -- that's the number of bills that have been introduced at the Minnesota Legislature this session, and we still have six weeks left until adjournment.

One of the "inside baseball" things about the legislature you find out very quickly is that the vast majority of bills that are introduced will not be signed into law. Bills are proposed for many reasons -- to actually create or change a policy, to direct spending, to introduce an idea, or in service to a particular constituent. Bills can pass the House and Senate as "standalone" bills, but more often than not in Minnesota, they're packaged together in "omnibus" bills and voted on as a group. While packaged bills arguably take less time than dealing with each individually, there are also unintended consequences of legislating this way -- everything from the consolidation of power in a small group of decision makers, to votes that are driven by "gotcha" opportunities by opponents in the next campaign.

The creation of onmnibus bills also makes individual proposals harder to track. During committee hearings, a bill can be "held over for possible inclusion" -- which means it's in limbo until the omnibus bill is introduced closer to the end of the session. (And as a reminder -- identical versions of bills must pass each chamber to go to the Governor for a signature, so conference committees also play an important role with omnibus bills.)

There's no such thing as a truly dead bill until adjournment of the biennium, so our long list of bills we're watching isn't getting any shorter quite yet. If there is a bill you're interested in that isn't on the list yet, let us know. We'll be watching all the way up to May 17.

Shannon Watson
Vice President of Public Affairs
Follow me on Twitter @Shannon_SPACC
Instead of another webinar presentation to watch, our members are invited to participate in a roundtable meeting around a timely issue.

Issue Forum on Business Recovery Fund Options: Maplewood - Tomorrow!
Join Mayor Abrams and city staff to discuss ways the city can use upcoming federal dollars to assist businesses located in Maplewood.
Friday, April 2 9:00-10:00 am

St. Paul City Council has reduced the number of hearings for proposed ordinances from four to three.

The Northfield City Council declared April 4 to 10, 2021, as National Library Week in Northfield. The library will celebrate with a fine forgiveness program during that week.
The Fine Forgiveness Program requires cardholders to call or come into the library to verify their address and return any overdue materials.

The City of Vadnais Heights Annual Spring Cleanup is Saturday, April 24. City of Rosemount is hosting their Clean-Up Day on May 22.

St. Paul HRA is once again open to conduit hosting revenue bond financing for charter schools, after hearing results of a study done by the Planning and Economic Development department.

Welcome to new West St. Paul City Manager, Nate Burkett.

The City of Burnsville is accepting applications for the new Code Review Task Force until May 7. This committee will research and advise on a full update of the City Code to help make it clear, understandable and effective to the community. Members will meet at least once a month for 12-24 months.

The Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO), the City of White Bear Lake, and the White Bear Lake Environmental Advisory Commission (EAC) are working to identify and prioritize a sequence of management actions that would improve the health of East Goose Lake. Share your thoughts by taking the 5-minute survey.

The City of Lake Elmo is accepting applications for the new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) committee. Members will help guide the City's plan for infrastructure, vehicles, equipment and public facilities. Members of this committee will meet regularly May through August to make recommendations for the CIP.
We regularly get calls from reporters looking for businesses to comment on a wide set of issues. To make those interactions easier and quicker we keep a list of member company media contacts and areas of expertise. If your company is willing to speak to media on the record, email Shannon and she'll add you to the list.

Minority Leader Daudt hopeful for eventual passage of PPP tax conformity bill.

The Governor gave his third State of the State address remotely on Sunday.

Several Executive Orders that were issued in response to COVID-19 have been rescinded.
  • 20-03 – Removes COVID-19 visitation policies for Minnesota Veterans Homes 
  • 20-25 – Ends deferment for security-related licensing board requirements (Continuing education requirements, licensing renewals) 
  • 20-41 – Distance learning requirements ended, K-12  
  • 20-57 – Distance learning requirements for summer school also, over, K-12 
  • 20- 102 – Extension to compute employers’ experience rating for UI finished 

On April 15, the requirement of "workers who can work from home MUST" changes to "workers who can work from home SHOULD."
Each week we'll highlight a few bills at the legislature that have caught our attention. Being included in this list just means we're watching them -- it does not indicate approval or opposition. ("Retweets =/= endorsement.") Language from the bill title is listed, analysis from SPAC PA staff is in brackets.

The following is an update of the bills we have highlighted since January.

SF 29 / HF 7 – Earned sick and safe time. (Passed the House floor, referred to Senate.) 
SF 469 / HF 5 – Childcare provider support funds. (Heard in committee in the House, no hearings in the Senate)
SF 68 / HF 125 – Providing tax credits for businesses required to close or operate at reduced capacity. (SF Introduction and first reading / HF Introduction and first reading) 
SF 288 / HF 50 – Changing the definition of small business. (SF Introduction and first reading / HF Introduction and first reading, referred to Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy) 
SF 213 – Prohibiting additional penalties to a business for violation of certain executive orders. (Second reading, Comm report: To pass as amended / no companion bill) 
SF 123 / HF 187 – Authorizing the city of Oakdale to impose a local sales and use tax to build a new public safety facility and a new public works facility. (SF Introduction and first reading, HF Introduction and first reading, Referred by Chair to Property Tax Division)  
SF 192 / HF 135 – Eliminating expiration date for exclusion of COVID-19-related unemployment claims in calculating future experience rating.  (SF – Governor’s action Approval 1/29/21, HF indefinitely postponed) 
SF 263 / HF 501 – Income and corporate franchise tax federal conformity to exclusion of paycheck protection loan forgiveness from gross income.  (SF – Third Reading passed, referred to taxes, motion did not prevail, HF – motion to suspend rules, motion did not prevail. No committee hearings) 
SF 534 / HF 499 – Appropriating money for emergency management readiness grants for local planning and preparedness efforts.  (SF Introduction and first reading / HF Introduction and first reading, referred to Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy) 
SF 1880 / HF 523 – Imposing a road usage charge. [This is a way to deal with revenue shortages that occur when all-electric vehicles don’t pay gas tax.] (SF Introduction and first reading / HF Introduction and first reading, referred to Transportation Finance and Policy) 
SF 1264 / HF 533 – Prohibiting employers from discipline or discharge for employee or applicant refusal to immunize. [This bill prevents vaccinations as a prerequisite for employment.] (SF Introduction and first reading, Withdrawn and re-referred to Labor and Industry Policy / HF Introduction and first reading, referred to Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy) 
SF 923 / HF 702 – Allowing cities and towns to require additional licensing for hotels. (SF Introduction and first reading / HF Second reading, Committee report, to adopt as amended)   
HF 767 / SF 574 / HF 778 / SF 410 / HF 769 – Group of bills the PA team calls “all things sports betting.” (No committee hearings, so likely dead for this session) 
SF 610 / HF 796 – Modifying requirements for 16- and 17- year-olds working in or around a construction or building project. (No committee hearings, so likely dead for this session) 
SF 1021 / HF 1597 / SF 1176 / HF 1028 / SF 479 – Liquor bills- letting small breweries sell cans, allowing food retailers to sell beer and wine, regulating direct shippers of wine, etc. (Introduction and first reading) 
SF 1513 / HF 1306 – Authorizing the Metropolitan Council to issue administrative citations for transit fare evasion and impose civil fines. (SF - passed as amended and re-referred to Judiciary and Public Safety Finance after first reading in Transportation Finance, HF – second reading adopted) 
HF 12 / SF 491 / HF 835 – Amending certain eviction procedures during and after a public health emergency. (12 has been re-referred several times, SF Introduction and first reading, 835 also re-referred) 
HF 1748 / SF 991 / HF 1235 – Appropriating money for small business COVID- 19 loan programs.  (Introduction and first reading) 
SF 165 / HF 6 / SF 1675 / HF 1844 – Appropriating money for relief to businesses from the civil unrest. (6 - Committee report, to adopt as amended and re-refer to Taxes, Committee report, to adopt as amended and re-refer to Ways and Means / 1844 Introduction and first reading, referred to Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy / 165 Introduction and first reading / 1844 Introduction and first reading)  
HF 1982 – Employees who exclusively work from home exempted from local ordinances regulating workplace. (HF Introduction and first reading, referred to Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy / no companion) 
SF 647 / HF 1891 – Prohibiting certain public officials from lobbying for seven years after leaving office.  (SF Introduction and first reading / HF Introduction and first reading, referred to State Government Finance and Elections) 
Supporting our members' own advocacy at the Capitol and in City Halls across the East Metro. If you have an issue you’re working on and would like support from the Chamber, contact Shannon to discuss the options. From committee testimony, to letters of support, to meetings with elected officials, we're here to support you and champion an economically vibrant business community. Especially if you do not have in-house government relations staff or contract lobbyists to move your issues, our public affairs team can be a powerful ally and a valuable benefit of membership.
Public Policy Conversations are back for 2021, with a focus on east metro legislators. These meetings will be held via Zoom, with an opportunity for our members to participate live. To be invited to the meeting, complete the form and we'll add you to the calendar invitation. (Invitations close at noon the business day prior, so get your request in early.)
Senator Erin Murphy
St. Paul
April 6 10:30-11:00 am
Representative Rena Moran
St. Paul
April 9 11:00-11:30 am
Representative Dave Pinto
St. Paul
April 12, 12:30-1:00 pm
Senator Mary Kunesh
New Brighton
April 13 11:30 am - noon
Senator Greg Clausen
Apple Valley
April 14 3:00-3:30 pm
Representative Don Raleigh
Circle Pines
April 19 8:00-8:30 am
Representative Kaohly Her
St. Paul
April 20 3:00-3:30 pm
Representative Jay Xiong
St. Paul
April 26 2:30-3:00 pm
Representative Kayla Berg
April 27 1:00-1:30 pm
Thank you to the following companies supporting public affairs initiatives and programming in 2021!
Want to see your logo here? It's not too late! Contact Shannon.
St. Paul Area Chamber