Largest business group supports policies to make Minnesota more competitive

Published 7:41 am Friday, February 21, 2020

Minnesota Chamber Federation kicks off legislative agenda

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and its statewide network of local partners launched their legislative agenda at the annual Session Priorities event Feb. 11, outlining initiatives to grow the state’s economy for the benefit of all Minnesotans.

Austin Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Elaine Hansen was among those who attended the event and hopes this is something that Minnesota’s politicians will get behind.

“This was an opportunity to come together with businesses across the state,” she said. “We hope they hear the message. It’s always the balancing act to find out what’s going on.”

Elaine Hansen

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The Minnesota Chamber Federation unites and amplifies the voice of the statewide business community, representing more than 43 local chambers and 21,000 businesses.

“We look forward to a constructive session, working with Gov. Walz and the Legislature advocating for policies that will create economic opportunity for all Minnesotans,” Chamber President Doug Loon said in a press release.

Loon applauded local chambers of commerce for their commitment to a strong economy.

“The Minnesota Chamber Federation speaks with one voice on the critical issues affecting Minnesota businesses in their quest to create economic opportunity across the state,” he said.

Five major priorities will frame the Chamber Federation’s initiatives at the Capitol.

Workplace management: Oppose “one size fits all” state mandates that limit employers’ ability to design competitive benefit packages for employees. Support state legislation that prohibits local government labor mandates.

Tax competitiveness: Support reforms by adopting federal conformity with Section 179 business expensing rules that will help small businesses invest in their future.

  • Environmental sustainability: Support policies that drive private investment and help employers reduce environmental impacts.
  • Health care: Support requiring a cost-benefit analysis as part of any proposed insurance mandate to state law.
  • Education and workforce development: Support private-sector initiatives to increase employer engagement in worker training. Support policies that ensure student readiness for postsecondary education and careers.

The five areas of focus had the familiar topics, including questions of healthcare affordability and high taxes. Education was also an important subject of discussion because it speaks directly to Austin’s own initiatives of not only keeping qualified jobs in town, but drawing workers into Austin as well.

“We have a lot of great things going on in terms of pipeline development when you look at programming through the Austin CEO program, Step Up and the Austin Assurance scholarship program,” Hansen said. “We need to make sure we can attract and retain workers here. We also have to look at ways we can attract more employees into our community.”

Hansen, like others in the state, hopes that by pursuing these initiatives, businesses can find easier accesses forward.

“What are we getting for it?” Hansen asked. “Are we adding more barriers or making more opportunities for businesses in Minnesota.”