Most of our time in the House at this point in the session continues to be spent in committee hearings as bills are brought into the preliminary stages of the legislative process. One thing that has become abundantly clear is the majority is not allowing anywhere near enough time for questions to be asked about bills.
The routine we keep seeing is the majority brings up a bill, has dozens – yes, dozens – of testifiers expressing support over the course of 30-45 minutes, all but running out the clock. Maybe 3-4 minutes are then allowed for questions before a bill is then approved on a party-line vote. Wash, rinse, repeat.
While this mode of operation may be a convenient method of controlling the discussion, it does a great disservice to the citizens of Minnesota who are being silenced. I look forward to a time the House returns to robust committee discussions and bills receive the due diligence they deserve.
On another subject, I am urging the House to take immediate action to spare businesses throughout Minnesota from owing state taxes on forgivable emergency loans recently issued by the federal government.
The Tax Foundation reports Minnesota is the only state in the Upper Midwest that has yet to exempt forgiven Paycheck Protection Plan loans from state income taxes. These loans were offered as lifelines for businesses to keep employees on the payroll and meet other financial obligations amid COVID-19 restrictions. More than 102,000 Minnesota businesses received them.
It would be a great injustice for our state to skim tax dollars from emergency funding sent to struggling businesses – especially as with the state sitting on a $1.6 billion shortfall.
So many workers can’t afford to write this check to the state and are wondering what the Legislature is going to do about it. I continue hearing from people who are concerned about this issue and cannot comprehend why the state would tax them on forgivable loans when they’ve already suffered so much damage this year.
House Republicans have made it clear they want this done. The Minnesota Senate Tax Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that exempts PPP loans from state taxes. The governor has signaled openness to this legislation and the DFL tax chair has signaled support. So what’s the holdup in the House? Let’s stop delaying and get a clean bill to the governor so we can fix this problem.
Watch for more on this issue as things develop. This needs to be resolved sooner rather than tempting fate by pushing it off until the end of session when all bets are off and things can either be left undone or slip through the cracks.
Until next time, enjoy the balmy weather and stay in touch.