Advocacy News | April 8, 2021

Recently, I had the opportunity to revisit some advice we'd given to the legislature as they started the last biennium and set out on their journey to craft the budget back in January 2019. While a LOT about the world has changed, a lot is the same -- especially in the business world.

"The employer community isn’t just made up of Fortune 500 CEOs, although in Minnesota we are blessed with a high concentration of those companies. Employers are your neighbors and constituents, from the CEO in the corner office to the owner-operator of your favorite food truck parked on John Ireland Boulevard. We are sole proprietors, running second businesses and side hustles in the few hours we have after our day jobs are done. We are student innovators and teen entrepreneurs. We are people – not just faceless corporations.

As you begin this session, we ask you to remember two things: First, that employers need room to make market-driven decisions whenever possible. Second, given that this is a budget year fraught with competing priorities and limited resources, the best driver of increased revenue isn’t increased tax rates — it’s an increase in the tax base itself. Give us the room we need to grow that base. Our success will make your jobs easier. Minnesota will have more business, more jobs, more opportunity, and thus more funding for the programs rightly driven by the public sector."

So much growth to pull all of us out of the pandemic must be started or carried out by the business community. I work in this particular space because I genuinely believe that business and government can successfully co-exist, especially when there is a common understanding of roles and division of duties. The very best thing that the Minnesota legislature could do right now is to craft a budget that allows businesses to thrive. That's how we'll all recover. Together.

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 St. Paul Parking Minimums
The City of St Paul is engaged in a zoning study to consider a reduction or elimination of parking minimums. The Chamber, the St. Paul Downtown Alliance and the ESABA are hosting an Issue Forum to hear from city staff about the study and possible outcomes and discuss the issue from a business perspective.
This Issue Forum is open to any business, not just limited to members.
Monday, April 19 3:00-4:00 pm

A vote by 4 of 7 St. Paul city councilmembers to deny a site plan based on criteria outside of current legal parameters casts doubt on confidence in future development. Meanwhile, the city council in Cottage Grove is considering the redevelopment plans for Cedarhurst Mansion.

Silver tsunami continues! Congratulations to Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott who will retire after 35 years on the department.

City of Afton will have to pay damages to Afton House Inn after lawsuit.

New proposal for fire, police and city hall building in Lake Elmo.

New Brighton becomes the latest municipality to regulate short-term rentals.

Lino Lakes city council authorizes a new vaccination site.

Woodbury is studying the site of a deadly crash and considering adding a roundabout.

Saint Paul’s Community-First Public Safety Commission
Our Chamber is not formally represented on the commission, but John from our PA team is attending the meetings and will share updates on the Commission’s work. 

The second-to-last meeting of Saint Paul’s Community-First Public Safety Commission (CFPSC) was held this week. The Commission announced two Town Hall meetings next week to engage with community members who live and work in St. Paul. Join upcoming online town halls to provide your input.

Kate Cimino, Citizens League Executive Director, provided the Commission with feedback from the community. Three comments were received from ISAIAH (state-wide, nonpartisan coalition of faith communities) regarding appropriate responses to mental health crises, mental health co-responding, and de-escalation ideas.  

The first session of the meeting was a data analysis report from Ebony Ruhland, PhD, and Lily Gleicher, PhD from the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. The data presented was a breakdown of call types and the geography of call types. The researchers used 2019 data instead of 2020 data because researchers believed that COVID-19 and civil unrest skewed the 2020 numbers.

During the next block of work, the Harvard Government Performance Lab walked the Commission members through a real time survey to further develop what a city-staffed Office of Neighborhood Safety might look like related to scope, programming, governance, and policy.  

The remainder of the meeting was a return to the matrix model to further winnow issue areas for inclusion in the Commission’s final report. 

Findings from Robina, Harvard Government Performance Lab, and the matrix model survey will be presented to the Commission at its final meeting on April 21, 2021.

To learn more about the commission, future town hall meetings, or to sign up for updates visit the project page on the Citizens League website.

You may also voice your opinion to the Commission:
By completing the comment form
Leave a voicemail at (651) 252-4415

Our President & CEO B Kyle helps KSTP's Joe Mazan tell the story of the Deubener shopping bag.

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.

Senator Kent Eken proposes a bill considering phasing out property taxes.

About five weeks left in session and a lot of issues remain unsolved.

After a hole in the state's sexual assault laws was revealed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, there's a new bill to redefine "mentally incapacitated."

Gas tax proposal included in House transportation bill.
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.

It's time for omnibus bills! Welcome to the land of delete-all amendments...
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.)
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

Virtual Coffee Hour with Rep. Robert Bierman
Saturday, April 10 9:00-10:00 am
Meeting via Zoom ID: 927 1341 6910; Passcode: 457161

Virtual Town Hall with Rep. Ami Wazlawik
Saturday, April 10 10:30-11:30 am
Watch the livestream on Facebook

Virtual "Catch Up" with St Paul City Councilmember Jane Prince
Tuesday, April 13 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
More information and the Teams link can be found online
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.

The PAC Board of Directors is now recruiting new board members. If your business/employer is a member of our Chamber or another local chamber in the east metro, and you have an interest in supporting local and state business-friendly public policy initiatives and candidates (whatever side of the aisle they sit on), connect with Shannon or Chair Leslie Rosedahl to learn more.
St. Paul Area Chamber