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Conference committee agreement meets target — but millions short of original House bill

With a General Fund target of $37 million compared to an ask of $460 million, there’s no doubt funding for workforce, economic development and energy would fall short of many House member’s hopes.  

But conferees for those three areas met their target and more or less its deadline, approving a conference committee report 9-1 Saturday night.

Sponsored by Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), the report on HF4355/SF4091* now awaits action by the House and Senate, where there is a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Sunday for business to be completed.

The final agreement appropriates $36.75 million from the General Fund and uses a similar amount from special funds such as Workforce Development Fund for a variety of programs, including some to help new immigrants participate more fully in the economy. 

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Conferees had agreed to many policy provisions in the final report earlier in the week, including provisions that would prioritize high-wage, high-demand jobs in grants, modify pay for performance in jobs programs and put requirements on homeowners associations to communicate fines and remedies. 

The agreement does not include provisions from the House bill that would establish paid family leave, require earned sick and safe time, allow some hourly school workers to receive unemployment insurance benefits or regulate social media algorithms targeted at children.

Nor does it include a change to wage theft laws as was in the Senate bill.

Climate and energy

The bill also includes $40.8 million in appropriations related to energy and utilities for fiscal year 2023. Of that amount, $22.8 million would come from the General Fund and $18 million from the Renewable Development Account, a state-administered fund designed expressly for the purpose of developing renewable energy sources in Minnesota. Xcel Energy pays into it with annual fees of between $350,000 and $500,000 for each cask of nuclear waste it stores at its Prairie Island and Monticello facilities.

The largest climate and energy appropriation would be $22 million for a competitiveness fund designed to unlock federal monies available via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Also among the bill’s outlays for fiscal year 2023 would be:

  • $4.1 million for the Solar for Schools program outside the Xcel service area;
  • $3.5 million for community energy transition grants;
  • $3.5 million for a solar array at the National Sports Center in Blaine;
  • $3 million for a solar contingency fund at the former Ford site in St. Paul;
  • $2.3 million for the state’s weatherization assistance program; and
  • $2.3 million for a Granite Falls hydropower project.

It would also allow Xcel Energy to withhold from the Renewable Development Account $5 million per year in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 and another $10 million in fiscal year 2026 for its Solar Rewards incentive program, and $8 million for its Solar for Schools program within its service area in fiscal year 2025.

The bill also contains policy language on a decommissioning and demolition plan for a coal-fired plant in Oak Park Heights, and establishes a tribal energy council on energy.

Session Daily writer Rob Hubbard contributed to this story

 


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