Advocacy News | June 3, 2021

Well, it's June 3, and the Minnesota legislature seems to have blown its own internal deadlines again. Behind-the-scenes negotiations continue. Since the regular session adjourned on May 17, only two "working groups" have had public meetings. Lobbyists don't know what's going on. Reporters don't know what's going on. Even some rank-and-file legislators don't know what's going on.

Representative democracy and pure democracy are different. We elect leaders to make decisions on our behalf, to represent us. At best, it's an imperfect system. Personally, I have to balance my ideals of transparent government, with the realities of politics and the desire for privacy that is just a part of being human.

As representatives of business, I get it. If all of the conversations and negotiations that I go through internally at the Chamber to come to a decision on a position or a strategy had to be done in public, I know that would change my word choice and comfort level. I'm sure that most of us can identify with that, right? So I'm not sure how to fix the system. Right now I'm continuing to have faith that the (very real) June 30 shutdown deadline will inspire some cooperation and coordination.

Your PA team will continue to monitor the situation, and report back as we can. If you have questions, let us know!

Shannon Watson
Vice President of Public Affairs
Follow me on Twitter @Shannon_SPACC
Bring on real-live public hearings! Maplewood is re-opening city hall on July 6th, and the city council will be having meetings in person. St. Paul city council will be returning to their council chambers on September 8.

After a federal judge ruled that landlord restrictions were unconstitutional, the St. Paul city council plans to repeal and rewrite the law.

The Ramsey County sheriff is suing the Board of Commissioners over budget cuts.

A Washington County prosecutor has resigned over partisan politics affecting the office.

The St. Paul minimum wage raise and other costs cause more expensive elections.

Landfills in Inver Grove Heights, Burnsville and Shakopee may be expanded.

Maplewood Public Safety Director Scott Nadeau has announced his retirement. His last day will be June 30.
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.

There's official agreements, and unofficial agreements, happening in the budget conversation. (The Chamber weighed in on recovery funds for business with a letter this week.)

Republicans renew a push to end the emergency.

The barriers around the capitol building are finally coming down.

Businesses who broke covid shutdown rules want penalties waived. The AG says that would be unfair to those businesses who complied. [Editorial note: Shannon agrees with him.]
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.
Instead of another webinar presentation to watch, our members are invited to participate in a roundtable meeting around a timely issue.

We're working on a new lineup of Issue Forums for summer and fall. Vote on the following topics below, and/or send an idea to Shannon.
Which Issue Forum topics are you most interested in?
Climate Regulations and Business
City of St. Paul Administrative Citations

Feedback requested on Minnesota Street reconstruction project:
The City of Saint Paul is planning to reconstruct Minnesota Street between Kellogg Blvd and 11th Street, starting in 2023.

Feedback requested on Rush Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project:
Ramsey County recently published an environmental assessment for the proposed Rush Line project, which would connect Union Depot to White Bear Lake. The document includes information about the project’s potential transportation, social and environmental benefits and impacts, and mitigation strategies for anticipated impacts. You can read the environmental assessment and submit comments on it through June 25, 2021, on the Ramsey County Rush Line BRT project web page.

Virtual Community Coffee Hour - Rep. Robert Bierman and Sen. Greg Clausen
Saturday, June 5 9:00-10:00 am
Join the meeting on Zoom
Meeting ID: 979 3257 0491 Passcode: 123288

Virtual Office Hours - St. Paul City Councilmember Mitra Jalali
Tuesday, June 8 6:00 PM
Join the conversation on Twitter

Mayor Kari NT Conversations - New Brighton Mayor Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas
Tuesday, June 15 7:00-8:00 pm
Join the meeting on Zoom
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.

That means the East Metro Voter Guide is back too! If you or someone you know is running for Mayor or City Council in the East Metro this year (White Bear Lake, St Paul, St. Anthony Village, St. Paul Park, Mahtomedi, or Falcon Heights) connect with John for a questionnaire!
St. Paul Area Chamber