15-Minute Advocate: Watch for League Action Alerts in Coming Weeks

The Legislature has four weeks left in the session with major budget, bonding, and tax bills still on the table for conference committee and floor action.
(Published Apr 21, 2014)

1. Get Informed.
The Legislature must adjourn by May 19, and can take no legislative action on that last day of session. Use the remaining four weeks to keep up to speed on legislative activity that affects cities. The bonding bill, supplemental appropriations, and tax bill are each moving through the legislative process, as well as other omnibus policy bills and individual bills containing provisions that cities care about.

Conference committees have been appointed and will begin meeting this week on the supplemental budget omnibus bill and the tax bill.

Supplemental budget bill
Conferees have been appointed and conference committee will begin convening on April 22.

The conferees are: Sens. Dick Cohen (DFL-St. Paul), David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), Charles Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), and Reps. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal), Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis), Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth), and Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth).

Broadband funding, SCORE funding, pothole funding, railroad and pipeline safety, workers’ compensation fixes, disaster assistance, airport assistance, waiver of fees on stormwater projects, and the creation of a legislative water commission will be part of conference committee discussions as the differences between the House and Senate versions of the supplemental budget bills are worked out. See related articles about the supplemental budget bill and about broadband.

Tax conference committee
Conferees have been appointed and differences between the two omnibus tax bills will be worked out in conference committee, which is expected to start meeting this week. See related articles on the Senate bill summary and House bill summary.

The conferees are: Reps. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington), Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), Greg Davids (R-Preston), Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), Linda Slocum (DFL-Richfield), and Sens. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis), Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City), and Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa).

A few items of city interest in the bills include:

  • Sales tax exemption cleanup. For information on the differences between the House and Senate sales tax exemption clean-up language, see related story.
  • Local government aid (LGA). The House tax bill includes an appropriation growth adjustment for the LGA formula that was omitted from last year’s final omnibus tax bill. The Senate tax bill leaves the small $1.5 million increase in the appropriation for each of the next two years.

Bonding bill
The Senate’s bonding proposal is expected to be released this week or next, triggering further negotiations between the House, Senate, and governor. The bonding bill is typically one of the last bills to be passed. Transportation, wastewater, and housing are among the issues of statewide city interest to be discussed as part of a bonding bill. See related article.

Other bills to watch
The status of items that were highlighted in last week’s session update have been updated with new information the League has received. This includes notice that the Senate is expected to take up the Women’s Economic Security Act on Wednesday and the recent media coverage on street improvement districts.

2. Take Action.
The League will continue to use the legislative listserv (sign up here, select “IGR: General Legislative”), Capitol Updates (sign up here), and targeted email lists to communicate with cities when specific time-sensitive contact with legislators is needed.

Communicating with your legislators via email or phone, including contact with a legislator’s staff, can still have an impact toward the end of session. When contacting your legislators, be sure to share your name, title, and city affiliation. Upcoming long floor sessions can be a good time to email with legislators about issues being discussed. Be sure to convey gratitude to legislators for their service, especially in the long days toward the end of the legislative session.

3. Stay Involved.
Don’t hesitate to contact the League’s IGR staff with any questions or for an update on legislation.

Stay tuned to League resources for more information:

  • Subscribe to the League’s Capitol Updates email alerts for the latest information on these legislative issues.
  • Follow IGR staff on Twitter for updates on these bills as they move through the legislative process.
  • Follow #lmcleg on Twitter to stay in touch with the latest legislative action on these issues.
  • Contact the League with questions or feedback that you may get from legislators.

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