Dissent remains regarding key provisions in the omnibus jobs and economic development, energy and climate, and telecommunications policy and finance bill.
As does a vote, as the House adjourned just before midnight, following a two-hour debate, so members could sleep before resuming discussion Wednesday morning.
The bill combines the work of a few different House divisions, including the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division, the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division, and the Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division.
Supporters have praised the bill for the number and range of employment and economic development programs it supports, but expressed disappointment regarding funding limitations.
The program is expected to cost $31.99 million over the 2020-21 biennium, with an additional $533,000 for outreach, education, and technical assistance for employees and employers.
An amendment successfully offered by Mahoney, would provide “a little more flexibility” for businesses that provide private leave options and make other technical fixes, he said.
Rep. Barb Haley (R-Red Wing) unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the amendment that would have made it even easier for businesses to get private plans approved. Business owners warned her the proposed legislation, in its current form, could have “unintended consequences” and compel them to cut other benefits, she said.
Halverson said Haley’s addition was “unnecessary,” as sufficient flexibility for employers had already been built into the program “so that they can offer a private plan that works for them and their employees.”
Republicans also expressed reservations regarding the bill’s sick and safe time provision – as originally outlined in HF11 by Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) – citing the potential financial strain that it could inflict on small businesses.
Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) offered a couple of amendments focused on improving reporting and increasing the oversight of grant programs, which received bipartisan support and were approved. While supportive of the initiatives, Mahoney said that he remains concerned about the House’s ability to secure the additional funding needed to support them.
Other notable finance provisions in the bill would provide:
Many of the programs funded in the bill focus on workforce development initiatives in Greater Minnesota, or are required to use a portions of their funding to serve communities outside the metro area.
Some notable policy provisions would:
Energy would become increasingly renewable under bill
Policies that mandate the use of energy from solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass sources are a central part of the section of the bill devoted to energy and climate. It also promotes electrification as a means toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The sections of the omnibus bill related to energy and climate closely mirror those in HF1833, the omnibus bill approved by the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division. But there would be significant increases in appropriations for some programs under HF2208.
For example, funding for a rebate program for purchasers of electric vehicles would increase by about 50 percent to $10.4 million. The amount allocated to the Metropolitan Council for the purchase of electric buses in Fiscal Year 2019 would increase by 60 percent to $8 million.
Among other energy-related appropriations for the next biennium would be:
Session Daily Writer Rob Hubbard contributed to this story.