MN Chamber of Commerce discusses 2018 legislative session

Published 8:09 am Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Members of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce addressed chamber of commerce members from Austin and the surrounding communities about the outcomes of the COC’s 2018 legislative policies during a luncheon on Monday at the Hormel Historic Home.

Laura Bordelon, senior vice president for advocacy and Bentley Graves, director of health and transportation policy, conducted the presentation, which was the first of roughly a dozen similar talks the MNCOC is conducting as it tours throughout the state.

“We had four things that we really wanted to make progress on this year,” Bordelon said. “One was tax reform because of the federal tax law. We wanted to make sure we conformed to a number of those provisions. Another was find additional funding for transportation. We were interested in pursuing a constitutional dedication for transportation, roads and bridge money. One of the other things we worked on was a bucket of issues that dealt with affordability, health care, childcare, housing, those are important issues for our members. And we work every year on environmental permitting.”

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“The legislature passed a number of bills that the governor vetoed, so it was a little bit of a mixed bag,” she added.

Bordelon and Graves broke down the 2018 legislative outcomes by category:

• Tax Competitiveness – the COC advocated “for reducing high tax burdens that continue to rank among the top barriers to economic growth and improvement.” The legislature passed pro-growth tax reforms for both individuals and businesses, but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the overall tax bill, which included conformity to Section 179, immediate expensing for equipment and reductions for the lower individual income tax rates and corporate tax rate.

• Labor/Management – the COC lobbied “for minimizing workplace regulations so businesses can spend more time innovating and creating jobs and less time dealing with burdensome regulations.” The legislature took no action on prohibiting local governments from enacting wage and benefit mandates after Dayton vetoed the Uniform State Labor Standards Act in 2017. Dayton did, however, sign into law legislation that enacted cost-saving reforms to the workers’ compensation system through Workers Compensation Advisory Council. Bordelon referred to this as “the jewel of the session.”

Laura Bordelon, Senior Vice President, Advocacy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, addressed representatives from the Austin Chamber of Commerce the surrounding area at the Hormel Historic Home. Michael Stoll/

• Affordability – the COC supported “measures in health care and education/workforce development to ensure that our talented workforce remains among Minnesota’s greatest assets.” The creation of an Independent Health Policy Commission was passed by the legislature, but vetoed by Dayton as part of the omnibus budget bill. Legislation that provided grants for childcare passed the House, but stalled in the Senate. Dayton signed legislation that would strengthen health care price transparency laws and increase the number of childcare facilities and providers.

• Environment – the COC argued for “sensible environmental regulations that will allow Minnesota to maintain a clean environment and a healthy business climate.” The legislature passed provisions that would have made changes to the wetland mitigation law, established a peer review for new water quality standards, require legislative approval for water quality fee increases and create a 16-year permit for industrial wastewater treatment plants, but the provisions were vetoed by Dayton as part of the omnibus budget bill.

• Transportation – the COC worked “for long-term funding for roads, bridges and transit.” The House passed a proposal that would have allowed voters to vote in November on the opportunity to constitutionally dedicate 100 percent of auto part sales taxes to state roads and bridges. The proposal failed to pass the Senate.

After the tours, Bordelon said the COC plans to conduct polling and focus groups the rest of the year. Information from these will be honed down to create a narrower list of priorities to bring to the legislature in 2019.

“With the election there will potentially be a whole new crop of people,” Bolderon said.