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Conference committee finds common ground on technical issues — but no deal yet on paid family leave, earned sick time

Rep. Mohamud Noor and Sen. Eric Pratt confer during the first meeting of the conference committee on SF4091 — the omnibus jobs, energy and commerce bill — May 12. (Photo by Paul Battaglia)

Though the House and Senate are far apart on issues such as paid family leave and earned sick time, the conference committee on the omnibus climate and energy, commerce, labor and industry, and workforce and business development bill did find some common ground Tuesday.

Although the agreed-to language was more on the technical, industry-specific side, it does start bridging the gap on HF4355/SF4091*, the widely divergent House and Senate bills.

“We made some progress today,” committee co-chair Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Mpls) said. “Hopefully we can make more.”

For spending ideas, the two chambers differ by hundreds of millions of dollars, but they had some similar language on policy provisions.

Areas of agreement include offering new protection from fines levied by homeowner associations, updating language in state code for window cleaning, eliminating the need for an elevator repair license to fix conveyers, and clarifying that federally recognized tribes are eligible for municipal contamination cleanup programs.

Conferees also agreed to a few energy provisions, including making tribal schools eligible for Solar for Schools programs and a decommissioning plan for a coal-fired plant in Oak Park Heights.

Other agreed to language includes:

  • building permit fee reductions retroactive to Oct. 1, 2021 and expiring Oct. 1, 2023;
  • exemptions on inspections exclusively for load control devices on co-ops and other non-public utilities when the work is performed by a Class A electrical contractor. The exemption would end in 2030;
  • asking the Department of Employment and Economic Development to list mandated but unhelpful reports and why they are unnecessary;
  • requiring the department to give priority to programs or organizations that focus on high-wage, high-demand careers when awarding competitive grants;
  • changing pay for performance rules on job programs to require jobs average 32 hours per week; and
  • requiring the department to provide a list of grant recipients that did not satisfy reporting requirements and therefore are not eligible for grants in the next cycle.  

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