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Session Concludes, Work Still to be Done

APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTE: Our Chamber has worked closely every week since early January in assisting the MN Chamber with issues and at the Capitol for your concerns. It will now go to a SPECIAL SESSION in early June. In addition, yesterday the Mayor and us discussed another concern in addition to these issues. There was very few bonding dollars for Minnesota Zoo who needs to care for animals without any gate income and fixed expenses with animals and asset preservation. We are conducting a joint effort to reach out statewide to legislators to protect this state asset.


The COVID-19 pandemic upended the 2020 legislative session, resulting in legislative breaks, remote hearings, limited public engagement and challenges to the governor’s peacetime emergency executive powers. The difficulties culminated to an inconclusive finish at midnight last night. Urgent priorities like delaying tax payments, providing small business relief through federal Section 179 conformity and covering the costs of a new unfunded worker’s compensation mandate were left incomplete. Governor Walz will likely call the Legislature back on June 12 in order to extend his current peacetime emergency authority.
The Minnesota Chamber will urge legislators to bring a laser focus to their work over the next several weeks: to help Minnesota find its footing in the economic devastation the pandemic has brought to so many employers in our state. To learn more about what transpired and what the future looks like at the Capitol, register for our session wrap-up webinar, Thursday, May 21.
  • The tax bill was tied up in the final negotiations on the bonding bill, and was not passed.
  • The Chamber advocated for tax policy changes to help mitigate economic impacts of COVID-19 by delaying tax payments and speed economic recovery by encouraging investment and tax relief, including:
  • Full conformity with Section 179 expensing.
  • Conformity with interest expensing cap increase from federal CARES Act.
  • Waiver of penalties to allow for tax payment extensions.
  • Option for pass through entities to pay taxes at the entity level enabling full deduction of state income taxes at federal level.
  • As state policymakers were slow to act, over 40 counties provided a payment extension of May 15 property taxes. See the county-by-county property tax guide here.
  • During the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers in Minnesota were subjected to new mandates under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • New mandates hurt employers and employees. Due to the pandemic crisis and economic impacts, the Chamber’s voluntary approach based on individual economic circumstances is the best approach to addressing employee leave initiatives.
  • In March, the Minnesota House passed its overreaching proposal to require a 24-week paid family and medical leave program on all employers in Minnesota. The Chamber vigorously opposed this proposal and helped ensure it was not considered in the Senate.
  • Clean Cars rule-making was delayed due to COVID-19.
  • The final environment bill was not agreed to before adjournment, creating a possible issue for a special session. The bill contained Chamber priorities including:
  • Legislative approval of water quality fees.
  • 16-year waste water permits for industrial facilities.
  • Permit efficiency reporting requirements.
  • The Legislature agreed to a Renewable Development Account (RDA) spending bill that left $58 million in ratepayer dollars sitting in the account. The Chamber sought to return the unspent funds to the Xcel ratepayers but this amendment was voted down by the House and was not included by the Senate bill despite our efforts.
  • The House passed the “Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO)” Act, but the Senate did not take action. The bill created a new ratepayer-funded spending program and made controversial changes to the Conservation Improvement Program. The Chamber expressed significant concern about the additional costs for ratepayers.
  • The Senate passed the Natural Gas Innovation Act last week, but the House did not take action. The Chamber worked with stakeholders to include ratepayer protections.
  • Neither the full House or Senate took action on a bill to modify the existing preference for carbon-free power generation. Lawmakers from both parties raised concerns over the bill’s costs to both the state and ratepayers.
  • In the final minutes of session, the House passed the omnibus education policy bill which included some early childhood education and care provisions the Chamber supports. The Senate adjourned before considering the legislation and it was not enacted.
  • A Select Committee on Minnesota’s Pandemic Response and Rebuilding was formed to allow the House to continue these conversations after the regular legislative session concludes, and education and workforce development needs – as well as worker safety and workers’ rights – will likely be a part of those discussions.
  • All businesses in Minnesota are required to carry – and pay for – workers’ compensation insurance, which is why the Minnesota Chamber maintains a statutory seat on the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC). In April, the WCAC approved legislation that provides a “presumption” for first responders as well as certain health care and child care workers responding to the COVID crisis. For most Minnesota employers, this policy change will not have a direct impact. However, since the cost is not fully understood nor was it provided for in the legislation, the Chamber is concerned this change will impose new costs on the workers compensation system as a whole.
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