State Legislative Update
Updated budget forecast to be announced Tuesday
A much anticipated update to February’s economic forecast for the State of Minnesota is expected to be released on Tuesday, May 5 at 2:00 p.m. by Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB).
MMB officials said earlier that they would provide a May budget projection so lawmakers can make budget decisions prior to the end of session on May 18. According to MMB, the updated budget projection will include new projections of income, sales, and corporate taxes and any incomes sensitive to the pandemic. It will also focus on large expenditures and other economic variables, but that the level of uncertainty with this budget projection is much higher than usual, as the U.S. economic outlook is highly volatile and data is unclear or delayed.
Senate approves economic recovery bill
Yesterday, the Minnesota Senate approved an economic recovery bill, SF 3843, by a vote of 40-27, to help small businesses battling financial hardship caused by the coronavirus and the Stay at Home order. The bill provides $330 million in tax and economic relief for individuals, small businesses, charities, and school districts. Author of the bill and Senate Tax Committee Chair Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said, “Even with emergency federal and state assistance programs, we are still getting large volumes of calls every single day from small businesses and workers who are right on the edge of survival.”
In addition to that bill, the Senate also took up SF 4073,authored by Senator Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes. This bill compels companies to stop using trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic chemical some companies use during their manufacturing process, and switch to safer alternatives. Under this legislation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is empowered to grant exemptions in limited circumstances. The bill passed by a vote of 66-1.
And the third bill the Senate passed, by a vote of 67-0, is SF 3020. This bill is sponsored by Senator Mark Koran, R-North Branch, and allows the city of North Branch to increase the membership of the city’s public utilities commission from three members to five members.
Both the House and Senate will convene floor sessions on Monday. The Senate is scheduled to return at 11:00 a.m., and the House will meet at 1:30 p.m.
Walz extends Stay Home Order until May 18
Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz extended the Stay Home Order in Minnesota until Monday, May 18. In an effort to get more Minnesotans back safely to work while the order remains in effect, the Governor announced that retail businesses and other non-critical businesses will resume operations with curbside pick-up.
“From building out critical hospital capacity to launching a landmark testing strategy, Minnesota has made meaningful progress in preparing for the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Walz said. “Minnesotans have made this possible by staying home and holding down the rate of infection. But now is not the time for sudden movements. There’s more work to be done, and we need to keep this virus at a simmer, not a boil. Our action today prioritizes the safety of Minnesotans while taking cautious, strategic steps toward getting people safely back to work.”
Also as part of his Executive Order, Governor Walz strongly encouraged all Minnesotans to wear a manufactured or homemade mask at all times when they leave their homes to any place where social distancing is difficult.
By extending the Stay Home Order, the Governor said the state will: slow the spread of COVID-19 and slowly build herd immunity; protect those working on the front lines by increasing access to personal protective equipment; ensure our health system can care for all who require care; gradually allow more Minnesotans to return to work; and safely and slowly resume in-person contacts and other activities that are critical for our well-being.
Starting May 4, retail businesses and other non-critical businesses may begin offering curbside pick-up, with potentially up to 30,000 Minnesotans being able to go back to work in a safe, coordinated way. Businesses must:
- Develop and publicly post a plan for how to open safely.
- Use online payment whenever possible.
- Employees and customers should wear masks and protective equipment.
- In curbside pick-up scenarios, social distancing guidelines apply. If possible, customers should not leave their vehicle.
- In delivery scenarios, items should be deposited outside a customer’s residence.
Governor Walz said that Minnesotans should also continue to telework whenever possible, wear face masks in public, screen for symptoms and regularly check their temperature, and maintain physical distance from each other.
“Listening to Minnesota business and labor leaders on how to ensure the safety of workers and customers is at the core of our decision-making process,” said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “Today’s announcement is the right next step to help more Minnesotans safely return to work and to reopen more businesses to get our economy ramping up again.”
Federal Legislative Update
Legislation introduced to strengthen workforce programs as a response to COVID-19
The Association of Community College Trustees reported today that Congressman Bobby Scott, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, along with many other House members, including Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02), introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act (RAWA) to authorize $15 billion in additional funding for workforce programs critical to helping workers affected by the CIVOD-19 crisis and the recovery of the U.S. economy.
Senators, including Tina Smith (D-MN), also introduced a companion bill today. The bill authorizes $2 billion dollars through fiscal year 2024 for a new Community Colleges and Industry Partnership Grants for the creation and expansion of community college workforce education programs. Under the program, community colleges will partner with businesses, state agencies and other stakeholders. The grants will assist individual institutions and consortia of community colleges working together to train workers with the skills they need to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic and reignite the U.S. economy.
The bill also authorizes funding for several programs under WIOA and CTE Perkins, including:
- $500 million for the National Dislocated Worker Grants
- $2.5 billion for the State Dislocated Worker Grants
- $2.5 billion for Youth Workforce Investment Activities
- $2.5 billion for Adult Employment and Training Activities
- $1 billion for Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service
- $500 million for Job Corps
- $150 million for Native American Programs
- $150 million for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers
- $250 million for YouthBuild
- $350 million for Reentry Employment Opportunities
- $500 million for Registered Apprenticeships
- $1 billion for Adult Education and Literacy
- $1 billion for Career and Technical Education
All hearings can be viewed remotely by clicking HERE.
Monday, May 4
House Education Finance
Chair: Rep. Jim Davnie
HF 4542 (Davnie) Forecast adjustments made to general education, education excellence, teachers, special education, facilities, nutrition and libraries, early childhood, and community and lifelong learning; Departments of Education and Labor and Industry responsibilities clarified for construction and skills trades career counseling services; and base appropriations adjusted.
*Note: During this hearing the committee will walk through and mark up the delete everything amendment to HF 4542. This is the DE 2 amendment that is attached. No outside testimony will be taken.
House Ways and Means
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
SF1098/HF 1246 (Morrison) Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act established, drug manufacturer price information submission to health commissioner required, civil penalties provided report required, and appropriations modified.
HF4498 (Hansen) Environment and natural resources trust fund funding provided, previous appropriations modified, and money appropriated.
HF4180 (Hansen) Dry cleaner fees modified, and report to legislature modified.
Other bills may be added.
Senate in Session
House in Session
Tuesday, May 5
House Agriculture & Food Finance and Policy Division
Chair: Rep. Jeanne Poppe
Agenda: Final Action on HF 4490 (Poppe) Supplemental Ag Finance bill
HF 4599 (Lippert) Farmer-Lender Mediation Act time period in 2020 modified.
House Government Operations
Chair: Rep. Mike Freiberg
HF4257 (Moller)Teacher license renewal requirements amended to include mental illness training, and rulemaking required.
HF4527 (Bahner) MN.IT office renamed to Department of Information Technology Services.
HF4536 (Bahner) Legislative Commission on Cybersecurity established and legislative appointments provided.
HF4605 (Freiberg)Counties, cities, and townships authorized to accept documents and signatures electronically, by mail, or fascimile.
House Higher Education Policy & Finance Division
Chair: Rep. Connie Bernardy
HF 3089 (Koegel) – Addiction medicine graduate medical education fellowship program funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF 3232 (Pelowski) – Career and technical education teacher training pilot project created, and money appropriated.
HF 3392 (Bernardy) – Office of Higher Education policy changes provided, including financial aid, institutional approval, and Minnesota college savings plan; and report required.
Wednesday, May 6
House Ways and Means
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
Agenda:Presentation by MMB on interim budget projection
– Commissioner Myron Frans
– Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, State Economist
– Britta Reitan, State Budget Director Other bills may be added to the agenda.