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Legislative Update - 6/28/2022

June 29, 2022

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MAT Legislative Update - 6/28/2022

 

MAT STATE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (Print or Download the .Docx format here)

June 28, 2022

 

Happy summer everyone! 

 

As we all know now, there will be no special legislative session in the near future. After a month of behind-the-scenes conversations amongst the Governor’s Office, legislative leaders and state agency officials, there was no agreement to hold a special legislative session after the regular legislative session wrapped up on May 23. But every effort was made to reach an agreement on items big and small, and MAT was definitely in the mix!

 

Over the period of a month that these negotiations were happening, MAT was in regular contact with various stakeholders – the Governor’s Office, MnDOT, Senate Republicans, House DFLers, other lobbyists, etc. – to specifically push for an agreement on increased, dedicated, ongoing transportation funding for town roads. Several MAT officials also assisted in reaching out to Sen. Miller and Sen. Newman (thank you Gary Burdorff) to apply some local grassroots pressure.

 

At the beginning of session, Sen. Howe and Sen. Newman were proposing 13% of auto sales tax on parts and repairs be dedicated to town roads. That’s roughly a $38 million annual increase!!! By the end of the session (and into the post-session negotiations), the Senate had lowered their proposal to 7% (or $22 million) and the Governor/MnDOT/House DFL proposal was 6% (or $18 million). As they say up at the Capitol, “half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.” Unfortunately, in the end, townships and many others were left with no loaf at all.

 

Hypothetically, there could be a special legislative session after the August Primary Election. That happened in 2022 in October with the passage of a bonding bill. But right now, I don’t see that happening. So now it’s time to follow-up work on our 2022 session success and start working on the 2023 legislative session including:

 

  • Transportation
  • MAT officials have already been talking with other stakeholders which share similar funding needs as MAT, specifically the Small Cities association. There is consensus to start asking for a 15% dedication of ongoing auto sales tax for township (and small city) roads. Since the Senate started with 13% this past session and general costs have gone nowhere but up (eg; gas, constructions costs, etc.), MAT feels justified in asking for more than $40 million in ongoing, dedicated funding for town roads. If an additional $40 million was added to the $50+ million that towns received annually, this gets us close to that $100 million goal mentioned in a recent MAT Board Meeting.

  • MAT will be meeting with MnDOT officials next week. The purpose is to ask MnDOT to forward a budget recommendation of 15% auto sales tax dedication for town roads to the Governor for the next biennial budget. 

 

  • MAT will also discuss with MnDOT logistics around the new Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) Advisory Council position for townships. As you recall, MAT got legislation passed creating this position which is to be appointed by MAT.

 

  • Speaking on LRIP legislation, I recommend that MAT recognize/thank Sen. Julia Coleman and Rep. Luke Frederick for their efforts to pass MAT’s LRIP member legislation. My recommendation is to have them Zoom in at the fall annual meeting to be recognized with a plaque sent to them in advance.

 

  • Annexation 
  • MAT officials will be reaching out to city organizations (LMC, CGMC, Small Cities) in the near future to begin negotiations on key annexation issues. The question is whether there can be agreement on key issues. Stay tuned! 

 

In closing, I was recently up in Itasca Township in Clearwater County doing some kayaking and camping and experienced firsthand some of the town road conditions. If you want me to come check out your roads and bridges, let me know. In the meantime, everyone have a safe and Happy July 4!

Shep Harris
Government Relations Practice
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
200 South Sixth Street, Suite 4000
Minneapolis, MN 55402-1425
Direct Dial: 612.492.7849
Main Phone: 612.492.7000