This week Legislators returned to the State Capitol on
Tuesday, after an 11-day break to observe the Easter and Passover holidays.
With a sense of refreshment and a desire to wrap things up, members dove into
work this week. Three big pieces of the session remain, and members started
work on two of those pieces this week.
The first is the Omnibus Supplemental Budget bill, HF3172.
The conference committee began its work this week, beginning to walk through
the House and Senate versions of the bill, discuss differences and adopt
similar provisions. To this point, much of the work has been minor and the
bigger differences and decisions will begin to fall into place next week.
The second piece is the Omnibus Tax Bill, HF3167.
The conference committee met for 30 minutes on Thursday evening and discussed
the reasoning behind the bills. The House is looking at tax relief while the
Senate is looking at tax clean-up. The committee will meet again on Wednesday,
April 30, when they are expected to focus on more of a walk-through of the two
versions of the bill.
The third piece, and what could be the last piece to get
resolved, is the Capital Investment bill (also known as the Bonding bill).
Roughly a month ago, the House version of the bill was introduced and passed
out of committee — but since that time, there has been little action on the
bill. The bill as introduced has changed over the past few weeks and will
continue to change right up until a floor vote. The Senate has yet to unveil a
bill. It sounds like the public could see the first draft of the Senate version
on April 28. In both the Senate and the House, each bill will need bipartisan
support. Bonding bills require a three-fifths majority vote — 81
Representatives and 41 Senators. Puzzle pieces one and two could play a key
factor in how the third piece gets resolved.
By constitution, the Minnesota Legislature has until May 19
to finish its work. While folks are still optimistic that adjournment could
happen prior to that date, next week will be a key indicator in measuring the
possibility of early adjournment.
HF 2834- Omnibus Energy Bill
On Tuesday, the House took up and passed HF
2834 the Omnibus Energy bill on a 85-45 vote. Included in the bill
was language from HF 2918 the HOA Solar Energy bill. An author’s amendment was
offered on the bill and adopted. That amendment reflected the language that was
shared with us and distributed at the last LAC meeting. There was little
discussion on the bill and the solar provision included. A letter starting our
position on the matter was distributed to members on the floor but was never
referenced. A second amendment was offered that would have allowed for
political signs to be placed in yards of HOA’s. The amendment failed on a 57-74
vote. The amendment was to show that with the solar rooftop language that HOA
contracts were being broken and if they were doing it for one situation, why
not for another. While the amendment did fail, the author of the Omnibus
Energy bill (Rep Hortman)did tell the author of the amendment (Rep.
Peppin) that she supported the idea but felt that the measure needed its own
hearing. Unfortunately this is something we will have to watch for next
The Senate is expected to begin work on their Omnibus Energy
bill next week. SF 2555 the Senate Solar bill will be included in that version.
As of right now Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Minneapolis) is the author of that
provision. The language will more and likely be included in a bill that Sen.
John Marty (DFL-Roseville) chair of the Energy Committee is author of. Both
Eaton and Marty do not favor the effective date that is in the Senate version.
On Monday a small group of lobbyists will be talking with Sen. Kathy Sheran
(DFL-Mankato) to discuss the effective date and to let her know that we favor
it and that it will more and likely be taken off. Just for quick reference, she
is the one that added the effective date of Jan. 1, 2015 and kept the Senate
bill alive. Along with Todd of CIC Midwest we are finding a few others that
have some concerns. We plan to bring our concerns to her as she might be one of
our last options to make sure the language is not stripped on the Senate floor.
When the bill goes to conference committee I will let
members know as we would want to have someone from CAI on record about the bill
especially if the effective date is still in the Senate bill.
HF 2213- Foreclosure Mediation Amendment
On Tuesday, the House also took up HF
2213 (small servicer definition amended relating to mortgages, and
Foreclosure Curative Act clarified) on the floor. Rep. Raymond Dehn
(DFL-Minneapolis) who was author of HF
1941 (Mortgage foreclosure mediation) offered an amendment that mirrored
the language of HF 1941. Dehn finally withdrew his amendment as it was clear
that he did not have the support of either caucus. The bill also had a price
tag of $1.7 million for 2015. It is safe to say that this issue is finally