Economic development bills introduced at the Capitol

The legislative session does not start until Feb. 25, but last week the Minnesota House of Representatives offered 280 new pieces of legislation in pre-session introductions. Among the bills are several that are of interest to the GMNP. Some of these bills are ones we can and will support, while others show the uphill battle we may have. Here are three pieces of legislation worth highlighting:

H.F. 2059 – Rep. Jay McNamar (DFL-Elbow Lake) introduced this bill which asks for $25 million in bonding money for the Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant program. This bill doubles the amount of money available to cities using the BDPI grant from $1 million to $2 million and would allow cities to use the funds for rebuilding infrastructure within industrial parks. This legislation is supported by both the GMNP and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC).

H.F. 1932 – Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plain) and a team of Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to slowly eliminate the statewide business property tax by 2019. The property tax issue was discussed at the GMNP’s regional meetings this fall, but it did not appear to be among the top issues facing economic development. If properly administered, a program like this could help retain some struggling businesses, as property tax is due whether or not a business is profitable. While it is unlikely this bill will pass, we appreciate the discussion that will be come from it.

H.F. 1985 – Rep. Shannon Savick (DFL-Wells) told the CGMC that in some areas, economic development is impossible because there is no fire protection. To help remedy this, she has offered a bill that provides a tax credit to volunteer firefighters. The GMNP does not have an official position on this issue, but it is something we will address at future board meetings.

If you have any comments, questions or insights on any of the legislation mentioned above, please send them to Mike Miller at mjmiller@flaherty-hood.com.