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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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End of Session Yields Positive Results for Local Businesses

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
On Wednesday, July 13, the Legislature passed the final four bills to end the 2005 session. New laws that passed this session will provide a boost to Brooklyn Park area businesses. Representative Mike Nelson advanced several successful initiatives this session to grow jobs in the Brooklyn Park area. Nelson spearheaded the effort to extend the Urban Initiative Loan Program to Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center. The program provides low-interest loans to businesses that create jobs in low-income areas. "Brooklyn Park is an increasingly attractive location for businesses to start and grow," said Representative Nelson. "These new initiatives will give the city extra tools to persuade developers and entrepreneurs to locate here." In addition, Nelson sponsored successful legislation to extend the Brooklyn Park Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district for an additional year. The TIF district allows the city to provide incentives to developers to construct new businesses and improve buildings and properties. Finally, Representative Nelson was the sponsor of a new law that will ensure fairness for taxpayers and encourage ethical business practice in the construction industry. The new law that passed as part of the Jobs Bill will toughen penalties against construction companies that misclassify workers as independent contractors, or self employed. Real independent contractors must meet certain criteria, including bringing their own tools to the job and setting their own work schedules. By misclassifying workers who should be waged employees as independent contractors, companies get away with not paying payroll taxes, workers comp premiums, or unemployment insurance for those employees. As a result, they are able to underbid their competitors and win more business. "Good companies are being forced to cheat, just to stay competitive," Nelson commented. "This new law levels the playing field." The new law creates a legal remedy for construction workers who are misclassified as independent contractors. These workers can now sue their employers for damages in district court. The court is then required to report the violating employer to Minnesota Departments of Revenue, Labor and Commerce, as well as the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor.