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Legislative Update w
January 26, 2007
Governor Pawlenty presented his two-year budget proposal earlier this
week. Overall, the plan calls for no new taxes,
and more funding for roads, schools, health care, and property tax
relief. The budget would increase state spending by nearly $3 billion,
a 9.3 percent increase, to be financed through growth in state revenue.
The eventual two-year budget that will be passed in late May will more
than likely be larger than the $34.3 billion proposed by Pawlenty. Yet,
the Governor's plan sets the stage for serious debate
of the next budget, with the next milestone coming at the end of
February when the
economic forecast will cause Legislators to fine-tune their revenue
Watch for Legislative Updates from the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce
every other week
during the session to help you stay connected with what's happening at
money for funding improvements for electronic medical records and offers
to pay providers on the basis of quality. Talk at the Legislature
continues to focus on improving access, with the House focus on covering
all kids, while the Senate is looking more towards universal coverage
for all Minnesotans. A constitutional amendment has been proposed in
the Senate that would guarantee comprehensive, affordable health care
for all Minnesotans, but is silent on the details of what that would
entail, or who will pay for such coverage. The House has introduced
legislation that would exempt all generic and brand-name prescription
drugs from the state's predatory pricing law, which prohibits the sale
of items below cost. The bill would allow pharmacies to price about 50
generic drugs at $4 each, but could harm small-town drug stores that
cannot compete with large retailers.
The Governor's spends the largest portion of his
budget on education. K-12 would receive the largest chunk of money,
with funding tied to results. Business is interested in a well-trained
and well-prepared workforce. Education Commissioner Alice Seagren spoke
to MACC members earlier today, and shared additional information about
Pawlenty's plan for education.
to download more information on the Governor's intiatives.
HF131 would place additional restrictions
on the use of Social Security numbers to help reduce identity theft.
Unfortunately, the bill could have some unintended consequences,
including making it more difficult to process workers comp claims, and
making it more difficult to transfer funds between accounts at different
Governor Pawlenty recommended
accelerating the sales-only apportionment for corporate income
taxes by three years, taking effect in 2011 instead of 2014. This law
was originally passed in 2005, and bases corporate income tax on a
percentage of the company's sales to Minnesota customers, and provides
an incentive for companies to expand in Minnesota while selling
globally. His proposals also call for converting the capital
equipment sales-tax refund program to an up-front exemption for
small businesses with sales under $1M or with fewer than 20 employees.
Weekly magazine offered free
A free magazine, Session Weekly, from the
House can help to keep you up-to-date on bill introductions, in depth
stories and more. To subscribe, visit
www.house.mn/hinfo/subscribesw.asp, or call toll-free
HF 18 / SF 48 would allocate the distribution
of the motor vehicle sales tax between highway and transit projects 60 %
to highways and 40 percent to transit. Discussion continues over
further breakdown of the transit funding between metro and out-state
interests. HF 23 /SF5 presents a long-term funding package to includes
multiple tax and fee increases, such as a wheelage tax, 10-cent gas tax,
and a half-cent metro sales tax, called a "Cadillac plan" by many. The
Governor also proposed $1.7 billion in transportation bonding projects.
Clean Water Legacy would be funded with
$20 million from the general fund according to Pawlenty's proposal.
Start up funding was passed by the Legislature in 2006, but the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency estimates that it will take $80
million annually for at least the next 10 years to clean up Minnesota's
"impaired waters". This is crucial to Minnesota business as discharge
permits will be denied for new and expanding businesses unless a
clean-up plan is in place. The Ewaste issue continues to be discussed,
and the House introduced a manufacturer's responsibility model that has
the support of retailers, county government and the MPCA.
The House and Senate seen to be on
separate tracks on three energy issues, including renewable energy,
conservation and efficiency and global warming.
Smoking Ban introduced
This long anticipated bill was introduced
and will be heard next week in the House. Insiders indicate it is
likely to pass in the Senate but have some problems in the House, but
Governor Pawlenty has said that he would sign the bill if it makes it to
The US House of
Representatives passed a $2.10 increase in the minimum wage. The Senate
moved to a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour
over 26 months and provide $8.3 billion in offsetting tax breaks. In
the meantime, in Minnesota, HF 91 would increase minimum wage for large
employers from $6.15 per hour to $7.95 effective on August 1, with the
wage rate indexed to inflation annually. Wages paid by small employers
would increase to $7.50 an hour at the same time. A debate will
continue over keeping the state's wages in line with federal levels.
for Seifert emails
Representative Marty Seifert provides weekly
emails for his constituents. To sign up to receive the free updates,
Conference Call series starts -
Just a reminder that our conference call series is free to federation
partners. The Minnesota Chamber hosts 8 conference calls with local
chambers during the Legislative Session. Our policy staff gives a
quick, up to the minute status report of action at the Capitol and we
also provide ample time for questions and input from you and your
volunteers. Many local chambers host their government affairs committee
meetings in conjunction with the calls The calls run from 7:30 – 8:00
a.m. on the following Fridays: Jan 26; Feb 19; Mar 9 & 30; April 20;
May 4, 11 & 18.
Business Day at the Capitol set for March 14
Join us in discussing your business priorities face to face with
legislators state-wide on Wednesday, March 14. The Marshall Leadership
Academy will attend, and we hope to have a large contingent of Marshall
area business leaders participate as well. Watch for more details, or
call the Chamber at 532-4484 to indicate your interest!
The Bottom Line on
||By Thomas J. Donohue,
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
January 23, 2007
The old saying "if you
don't like the weather in Chicago, just wait five minutes and it
will change" is now applicable to health care policy. If you don't
like the latest proposal from the president or the physicians
association, wait a few minutes and another one will pop up.
In the last week or so, President Bush, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen.
Ted Kennedy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rep. John Conyers, the
American College of Physicians, a handful of coalitions, and a slew
of state officials have all unveiled their own proposals, ranging
from mandating universal health care to changing tax incentives to
plans for covering the uninsured.
What are we to make of
all of this? First, health care is an extremely challenging and
complex issue. Second, there is no silver bullet solution--if there
were, we would have discovered it by now and quickly implemented it.
Third, unable to affect change individually, politicians, trade
associations, and companies have banded together in coalitions to
leverage their political power and draw more attention to their
The Chamber is a central
player in the health care debate. We have backed specific proposals
we think will help, such as expanding health savings accounts,
creating small business health plans, curbing frivolous medical
liability lawsuits, and encouraging the use of technology to improve
care and reduce costs, to name a few. In addition, we've joined
coalitions when it makes sense for us to do so. For example, we have
worked for two years as a part of the Health Coverage Coalition for
the Uninsured and support a mix of public and private sector
solutions to expand health care coverage to a significant portion of
America's 47 million uninsured.
In a world of competing
interests, proposals, and viewpoints, where proposals fall from the
sky like snowflakes during a blizzard, and when each might have a
single idea we could endorse, how does the Chamber move forward on
health care? Here is the bottom line--we will support proposals that
meet our fundamental criteria for reform. Those criteria are: Do
they strengthen the successful employer-provided system that
currently insures 136 million people, or does it begin to weaken and
dismantle it? Does it employ market-based approaches that allow for
flexibility and innovation, or is it one-size-fits-all mandate that
will do more harm than good? And finally, does it make sense, is it
cost effective, and does it have a reasonable chance of succeeding?
Forging consensus on
health care solutions and mustering the political will to implement
those solutions will be a difficult and time-consuming challenge.
But it helps when you have a prism from which you can separate the
good from the bad, and apply all of your resources to advancing the
Information from the
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Retailers Association,
Representative Marty Seifert's Update, The Political Insider, BIPAC, the
US Chamber of Commerce.
This Legislative Update is intended to be informational only.
Looking for Internet
links to the Legislature, state agencies and Federal resources as well?
Visit www.marshall-mn.org, and
follow the "Government" links, or
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