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CAI-MN Legislative Update - May 4, 2014

Posted By CAI-MN LAC, Monday, May 12, 2014

This week, Governor Mark Dayton gave the annual State of the State address Wednesday evening. He highlighted areas of progress, pointed out where improvement is needed, and proposed possible solutions, focusing on the economy, education, and transportation. The governor pointed to Minnesota’s economic growth (fifth-fastest in the country), citing partnerships between businesses, the state and local governments as being largely responsible for the progress. Investments by the state to programs such as the Department of Employment & Economic Development have created 550 jobs since January. He foresees continued job growth, also calling for expansion of the state’s Angel Tax Credit Program which aids new businesses.

The governor highlighted transportation funding and an overhaul of student-testing requirements as priorities for the 2015 legislative session. Recently, it has been realized that many improvements are needed on roads, bridges, highways and transit systems. Gov. Dayton also urged lawmakers to pass a $1.2 billion bonding bill, which will be used to fund many projects around the state, by the end of this session.

Full text of the governor’s State of the State address is available here.

Omnibus Supplemental Budget and Omnibus Tax Bill Update


The conference committee on HF 3172 (Omnibus Supplemental Budget) announced an agreement late last week on a target for the supplemental omnibus budget bill. The target budget for the remainder of the current biennium is $293 million. The projected impact on the next biennium (also known as the tails) is $883.5 million. The target is a compromise between the House, Senate and Gov. Dayton’s positions. The governor’s budget request totals $162 million; the House is at $323 million while the Senate is at $210 million. However, recently Gov. Dayton indicated he was willing to increase his budget level by an additional $100 million.


Along with a target, the conference committee received direction to wrap up its bill and pass it out of committee by Sunday night, May 4. As of Saturday evening the committee had not yet reached an agreement on the bill and was planning to keep discussing the issue Saturday night. As of Sunday morning at the time of this update there were no new updates on the bill. If members can reach a deal by Sunday and pass the bill out Sunday night, a floor vote on the bill could come early this week.  


In addition to the target for the budget bill, on Friday legislators received targets for the second tax bill and the capital investment (bonding) bill. For fiscal year 2014-15, there is a $103 million target for the tax bill and a $119 million target for FY 16-17. The cash target is $200 million for the bonding bill; the governor and legislators are putting together plans to fund additional projects through the issuance of bonds. The conference committee met on Saturday and worked through a large portion of the differences between the House and Senate on HF 3167. The committee chairs were hopeful that they could wrap up a majority of their work this weekend and leave the bill open for any last minute issues that may arise in the next week. Historically, the tax bill is one of the last ones to close for that reason.


On Friday, the committee moved to adopt the House provisions that deal with Ramsey County and authorizing Ramsey County HRA to exercise housing improvement area (HIA) powers. The Senate had no official position in their bill on this matter. The committee has taken no action yet on the Special Service Districts provision in the bill. On Thursday night the conferees discussed the provision and they seem to be split on the issues. Much of the conversation was focused on who gets to vote and decide if they want to enter or not enter into a special service district. Issues also were raised regarding the classifications of property and what services people are paying for.


HF 2834 Omnibus Energy Bill


As members saw last week, the Senate passed the Omnibus Energy bill off the floor. The bill passed with a 48-13 vote. The most interesting piece of the bill is that the Senate vote in favor removing the HOA Solar provisions with a bipartisan vote of 33-21. The case was made for local control and that the bill was overreach for one specific industry. The bill will now head to conference committee where members will work out differences between the two bills. The committee will be meeting this coming Tuesday at 5pm or later. CAI-MN sent out an action alert to members of Friday asking them to contact the conference committee members as well as their own legislators asking them to support the Senate position and to not adopt the House HOA language. I spoke with another lobbyist who has clients that oppose the language on Saturday and he said he had a quick conversation with Rep. Melissa Hortman who is the House chair. She mentioned maybe seeking a possible compromise. I will follow up with folks on Monday regarding this but two ideas would be:


1)      The 2015 effective date for new HOA’s going forward.

2)      2) For current HOA’s a member seeking to install solar would have to get 80% of the HOA to approve??? (This is a rough idea, but would allow for a conversation about solar in the HOA)  

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