Solar Bill- HF 2834: Omnibus Energy Bill
This week Michael, John and I met with representatives of
Fresh Energy and House bill author Rep. Will Morgan (DFL-Burnsville) to discuss
the solar energy systems language. Originally HF
2918 the bill has been wrapped up into the House Omnibus Energy bill which
2834 authored by Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). The House bill
has been schedule to be taken up on the House floor on Tuesday, April 22. Fresh
Energy has brought fourth another amendment which eases more of the concerns
that we have raised with the proposal since day one. In return for giving us
more of our requests they are looking to move the bill forward without the
effective date that was added in the Senate on SF
Following our meeting the three of us along with Todd
Liljenquist with CIC Midwest discussed strategy to put pressure on the Senate
regarding the effective date of January 1, 2015 being adopted in conference
committee. Over the next week we will be working on a few letters to key
legislators in the Senate advocating for that position. In the House we plan to
let the bill take its course with adoption of the latest amendment that was
discussed this week. We could offer an amendment regarding the effective date
but it would be voted down and then the House would have an official position
on the issue going into conference committee. We will also be working on a few
action alerts to members to contact individuals regarding the effective date.
Over the past few months the language while not idea has
gotten better and better for CAI and HOA’s. In our meetings and committee
hearings it is clear that a bill is moving forward this session. By working
with Fresh Energy and legislators we have been able to address a number of
concerns and the bill continues to get better and better from where it
originated. We will continue to work and talk with individuals to try and get
the best outcome we can.
Bigger Picture Items:
This week legislators wrapped up their work on a number of
larger issues as well as passed their own supplemental budget and tax bills.
Two of the larger outstanding pieces of the 2014 legislative session which were
passed off the House and Senate floors this week were the Omnibus Supplemental
Budget bill and the second Omnibus Tax bill. Now that each chamber has
passed their bills the real work will come upon return from break when
conference committee’s on each bill will have to work to reach compromise.
Unlike the first tax bill that passed both chambers earlier this session these
two bills in each body are very far apart from being similar.
In the Omnibus Budget bill the Senate looks to spend $209
million while the House has $322 million allocated in their bill. On top of the
differences between the Senate and the House, Governor Dayton has publically
said that both proposals spend too much. Differences will have to be ironed
when legislators return from break, which could lead to some tough negotiations
and a possible showdown with the governor.
With the passing of a second Omnibus Tax bill HF 3167 which is quite different from
the bill passed last week by the House, members of the Taxes Conference
Committee will have their own challenge. Included in the Senate bill is
about $100 million in spending on revenue changes, including a new income tax
credit for families with out-of-pocket expenses related to special education or
reading help; extending the local sales tax exemption to joint powers
entities; income tax credit for volunteer first responders; modifications
to the June accelerated sales tax; funds to help counties with aquatic invasive
species and help for counties with unpaid assessments for conservation easements
on state owned land; retroactive sales tax exemption for durable medical
equipment; and a variety of local bills for tax increment financing, sales tax
authority and other items.
House conference committee members are Lenczewski, Davnie,
Davids, Torkelson, and Slocum. Senate conference committee members are
Skoe, Rest, Dziedzic, Koenen and Gazelka. They will meet to work out the
differences in their bills after the legislative break.
Along with the budget and tax bill’s, the House and Senate
reached a deal on minimum wage. On Monday, legislative leaders announced that
they had reached a deal over the weekend on minimum wage. Since last session
the House and Senate had been split on the amount and whether the minimum wage
should be indexed to reflect inflation. The two were eventually able to come
together on a wage of $9.50 an hour but the inflation piece remained the
biggest obstacle. The deal reached raises the minimum wage for large employers
from $6.15 an hour to $9.50 an hour by 2016. It also includes a 90-day training
wage of $7.75 an hour for teen workers. Future increases would be tied to
inflation starting in 2018; however the commissioner of the Department of Labor
and Industry (DEED) would be able to prevent inflationary increases if there is
an economic downturn.
The bill HF
2091 passed the Senate earlier this week on Wednesday with a 35-31 vote.
Three DFL Senators voted no on the measure. On Thursday the House passed the
bill 71-60 with one DFLer voting no. The bill now heads to Governor Dayton who
has announced that he will sign the bill on Monday.
Legislative Easter/Passover Break:
The Minnesota Legislature is now on break and will return on
Tuesday, April 22 at noon. No meetings or hearings are schedule over this time.
Once legislators return we are anticipating a quick few weeks as they look to
wrap up their work for the session and head home early.