Chamber releases 2019-2020 Legislative Voting Record
By Laura Bordelon
Senior Vice President, Advocacy
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s 2019-20 Legislative Voting Record reports key votes on priority business community concerns. Because of the election year, we felt it important to include both sessions in the biennium to enable readers to view the entirety of votes scored.
The 2019 session, defined by a newly elected governor and the only politically split legislature in the nation, saw a record number of bills introduced culminating in a one-day special session to finalize the state’s budget. Governor Walz presented his priorities based on the “One Minnesota” theme established during his gubernatorial campaign. House majority Democrats advanced their “Minnesota Values Project,” which included legislation to improve education opportunities, make affordable health care a reality and increase economic prosperity for all Minnesotans. Senate majority Republicans advocated for simplifying tax laws, caring for and protecting families, investing in infrastructure, and growing Minnesota’s economy. These differing policy priorities and approaches generated considerable activity and debate. Divided government requires compromise, however. As a result, many issues were unresolved setting up a full agenda for the 2020 session.
The 2020 session, with many policy items set up for election year votes, was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency on March 13, allowing for use of sweeping executive powers exclusive of legislative involvement. Over 70 executive orders were issued between March and July, including the closure of businesses and schools, stay at home orders, and appropriation of federal COVID-19 assistance dollars. The legislature met sporadically and remotely. They ended the regular session on May 18 without a bonding bill, tax bill or appropriation of federal CARES Act funds. At the time of publication, two special sessions were held due to the governor’s extension of his emergency powers.
Disappointingly, there was no progress on enacting the Minnesota Chamber’s number one priority, federal tax conformity with section 179 business expensing which has languished for years.
In this report, we also acknowledge the work of legislators who were champions on key business issues. Their actions helped positively impact policy proposals that would have accelerated or hindered economic activity in our state. We are grateful for their work on behalf of Minnesota employers and their employees.
Taxes and Budget (page 4)
Includes 2019 budget proposals and negotiations, tax bills in both sessions.
Health Care (page 8)
Includes reinsurance, the provider tax, debate over a public option, direct primary care and the Pharmacy Benefits Managers bill.
Workplace Mandates (page 10)
Includes proposed mandates to paid leave, wage theft and the COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Fund.
Transportation (page 12)
Includes a 2019 proposed gas tax increase, other increases to transportation taxes and fees.
Workforce Development (Page 14)
Includes state workforce scholarships, child care provider grants and regulatory relief and early learning scholarships.
Energy (Page 16)
Includes proposed sustainability policies and the Renewable Development Account.
Environment (page 18)
Includes the Environment and Natural Resources Finance bill.