Now is the time to advance your priorities with legislators to ensure the vitality of our state’s manufacturers. The legislative pace has picked up another notch as omnibus bills are being compiled. All of the Manufacturers Coalition priorities are in play. All the omnibus bills will be voted out of the House and Senate floors by March 31, and then will head to conference committee for negotiations with the Governor.

Manufacturers’ priorities include:

Enact meaningful business tax relief:
The House has released its omnibus tax bill, and we expect the Senate to do so any day. Manufacturing Coalition priorities are included in one or both bills including business property tax relief; enhancing the research-and-development tax credit; repealing the estate tax, or, at minimum, conforming it to the federal threshold; and Section 179 federal conformity.

Ensure affordable, quality health care:
Health care reinsurance (HF 5, Davids, R-Preston/SF 720, Dahms, R-Redwood Falls): 
This bill would create a reinsurance program to help stabilize the individual market over the long term. We support a reinsurance program as long as it is done without adding to the already significant tax burden paid by premium payers in the fully insured market, which is accomplished by these bills. Both bills were passed in their respective full bodies. The bills now go to conference committee.

Minimize workplace mandates and support the free market:
Uniform State Labor Standards Act (HF 600, Garofalo, R-Farmington/SF 580, Miller, R-Winona):
The Uniform State Labor Standards Act would explicitly preempt local governments from enacting their own wage and benefit mandates on private employers and underscores the importance of having uniform, statewide laws governing employee wage and benefit packages. The House bill has passed, and the Senate bill is awaiting floor action.

Ensure certain, predictable regulatory environment:
Environmental permitting (HF 1291, Fabian, R-Roseau/SF 1087, Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria

This legislation requires specific schedules and timelines for expedited permitting and clarifies rulemaking by state agencies. The bills are advancing in both bodies.

On the K-12 front, legislation reforming the “last in, first out” policy protecting teachers with the greatest seniority is included in the House omnibus K-12 education bill (HF 890, Loon, R-Eden Prairie). The bill also includes a measure to simplify the current structure for teacher licensing.

Representative Barb Haley, R-Red Wing, and Senator Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth, introduced legislation (HF 2374/SF 2045) that provides a scholarship program aimed at students attending MnSCU two-year campuses and are enrolled in programs of high employment need in the state, including agriculture, advanced manufacturing, health care services, and information technology. The grants are $2,500 a year, divided equally between two academic terms ($1,250 a semester). There is no income testing or last-dollar nature to the program. The intent is to provide incentive to students and to help ensure retention/graduation from students entering these programs.

MPMA’s youth skills training bill (HF 631/SF 474) designed to provide work-based learning for students age 16 and older has been included in both the House and Senate omnibus job bills.

Finally, on a related note, compounding today’s worker shortage is the lack of affordable child care. Legislation appropriating money for child care grants in communities with documented shortages has been included in the House omnibus jobs bill.