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Viewing posts categorised under: Advocacy & Public Policy

The Government Affair

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

What’s in Store For You…
It’s no secret… This four-part educational series will commence this September and is perfect for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of civic affairs. Whether your experience with government is limited to voting for elected officials or you lobby your representatives on a weekly basis, this program will walk you through a comprehensive, non-partisan, grassroots experience at the local, state and federal level. This program will challenge participants to stretch their knowledge on all levels of government while learning from and networking with other business people and influential leaders.
How Can I Benefit?
  • Individual Benefits: Develop a great network of individuals who play an active role in the business community; become a more effective and influential leader at work by understanding the process of civic affairs; and learn transferable tools for your professional tool box.
  • Employer Benefits: Gain company exposure; and develop a strong employee who understands civic affairs and increases their leadership talent within the organization.
  • Community Benefits: Support active participation in the community; and further engage the local talent in grassroots initiatives on all levels of government.
Series Investment: $199

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Statewide Policy Tour Makes First Stop in South St. Paul to Deliver 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul (June 2017) – As a member of the Minnesota Chamber Federation, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce was proud to have long-time member, Waterous Company, host the first stop on the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Statewide Policy Tour on May 31st in South St. Paul.

A little history about our host: Waterous has been making quality, American-Made firefighting related products since 1886. Waterous made complete apparatus including horse-drawn, steam-driven hose carts until 1929 when the focus changed to manufacture fire pumps. NOW – Waterous still builds revolutionary fire suppression systems and holds true to the philosophy “Cast, Machine, Assemble and Test our pumps in America.” You can count on Waterous to provide you with the utmost in quality products and customer service.

Statewide Policy Tour: The tour included 25 business representatives from Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul, Eagan, Bloomington, St. Paul and surrounding communities who got to hear from Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Director of Environmental Policy and Director of Education & Workforce Development from the Minnesota Chamber, first-hand (days after the special session concluded), on results of the Federation’s legislative priorities that have weighed on businesses and families in our communities over the past year and prior.

The Minnesota Chamber lobbying team noted, “The Minnesota Chamber clearly delivered on your priorities this year. All the top priorities were signed into law except for one – the Uniform State Labor Standards Act – and that passed both the House and Senate, only to be vetoed by Governor Dayton. Our legislative victories will better position your company, and all of Minnesota, to be ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.”  They added, “The Legislature went into special session to avoid a government shutdown. Governor Dayton signed all the budget bills and tax bills, but more negotiations may be coming. He line-item vetoed the House and Senate legislative budgets in an attempt to force leadership back to the table to undo provisions he already signed into law: the repeal of the automatic inflator on the statewide business property tax levy and cigarette taxes; the increase in the estate tax threshold; teacher licensing reforms; and rulemaking prohibitions on drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants. His vetoes are headed for a court challenge.”

The conclusion of this legislative session highlighted significant progress on a range of business needs stated below. Our successes are at the foundation of your success.

  • BUSINESS TAX RELIEF: We delivered biggest tax relief for all Minnesotans since 2001
  • TRANSPORTATION: We delivered largest investment in roads and bridges since 2008 – without increase in taxes or fees
  • HEALTH CARE: We delivered more options for small businesses to provide employee coverage
  • LAWSUIT REFORM: We delivered protection for businesses targeted with abusive lawsuits
  • ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS: We delivered reasonable and responsible improvements to state environmental review and permitting
  • EDUCATION/WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: We delivered on workforce needs including K-12 reforms, early learning, housing and childcare funding
  • LABOR/MANAGEMENT: We preserved the effectiveness of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council process
  • ENERGY AND TELECOM: We delivered savings on energy costs and improved communications infrastructure

UNIFORM LABOR STANDARDS
Our biggest disappointment was the Governor’s veto of the Uniform State Labor Standards Act that would have explicitly prevented local governments from mandating local wage and benefit packages on private employers. We adamantly oppose government interference – at any level – in private-sector employee benefits, especially a local patchwork of mandates,” added the Minnesota Chamber.

Our lawsuit continues against the city of Minneapolis. The Minneapolis and St. Paul paid sick and safe time ordinances are scheduled to go into effect July 1. The Hennepin County District Court has ruled that Minneapolis may not enforce its ordinance against “any employer resident outside the geographic boundaries of the city of Minneapolis” until there’s a decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals. As a result, St. Paul is imposing its ordinance only on those businesses with a physical location within its boundaries. Our lawsuit is scheduled for a July 11 hearing before the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which then must issue a decision within 90 days.

Members of the business community shared the following items they would like to see the Minnesota Chamber Federation continue to work on and advocate for in the 2018 Legislative Session: create uniform labor standards, create more health care cost solutions for small businesses and individual plans, secure social security tax relief and education reform for ensuring effective teachers and funding for early childhood education.

For more detailed information on each priority’s results, please visit the River Heights Chamber’s website here.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Stay Connected with the River Heights Chamber on our social media sites FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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How to Contact Your River Heights Area State Legislators

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy

Reach out to your local legislators on legislative issues important to you – they want to here from you!
Find the Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul District Senators and Representatives contact information here:

District 52:
Senator Matt Klein, M.D.
95 University Avenue West
Minnesota Senate Bldg., Room 2409
Saint Paul, MN 55155
(651) 296-4370
www.senate.mn/senatorkleinemail
www.senate.mn/senatorklein
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MattKleinMN
Twitter: @MattKleinSD52
Learn more here

District 54:
Senator Dan Schoen
95 University Avenue West
Minnesota Senate Bldg., Room 2413
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 297-8060
sen.dan.schoen@senate.mn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SenatorDanSchoen/
Twitter: @danschoenmn
Learn more here

District 52A:
Representative Rick Hansen
247 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) -296-6828
rep.rick.hansen@house.mn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rick.hansen.90
Twitter @reprickhansen
Learn more here

District 52B:
Representative Regina Barr
553 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-4192
rep.regina.barr@house.mn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RepReginaBarr
Twitter: @RepReginaBarr
Learn more here

District 54A:
Representative Keith Franke
567 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-4342
rep.keith.franke@house.mn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/keith.franke.984
Twitter: @teamfranke
Learn more here

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Fighting Workplace Mandates on Two Fronts

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials

Column By: Doug Loon, President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

The Minnesota Chamber continues to challenge workplace mandates at the Legislature and in the courts. A recent court ruling underscores the importance of our parallel efforts.

A Minneapolis ordinance is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017, that requires businesses to provide paid sick time to employees. St. Paul has a similar ordinance scheduled to take effect the same date. Duluth is considering enacting its own set of workplace regulations. It’s only time before similar measures come to a city near you.

In October 2016, the Minnesota Chamber brought a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis asking the court to do two things: No. 1, issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing its “paid sick and safe time” ordinance on any businesses; No. 2, permanently rule the ordinance unlawful.

The Hennepin County District Court delivered a mixed ruling on January 19. Judge Mel I. Dickstein said Minneapolis may not enforce its ordinance on employers “resident outside the geographic boundaries of the city of Minneapolis.” He also ordered that, for now, the city could enforce the ordinance against employers within the city. We are appealing the decision.

The judge’s mixed ruling underscores the importance of our efforts at the Capitol to pass the Uniform State Labor Standards Act, which would prohibit local governments from passing their own mandates on wages, benefits and scheduling. The Act would keep Minnesota’s laws uniform, our communities open for business, and our economy thriving for all.

The legislation is being spearheaded by the United for Jobs Coalition, a broad-based coalition of local chambers of commerce and business associations led by the Minnesota Chamber.

We do not believe the state should dictate private-sector employee benefits. The only thing worse than state government dictating one-size-fits-all mandates on all employers is for local governments to do so, thus creating a patchwork of local laws for businesses to navigate across the state. Minnesota’s economic strength is due to a diverse business landscape. Distinctive operations and workplace needs require that employers have the flexibility to develop wages and salaries, benefits, policies and procedures that best serve the mutual needs of employer and employees.

Borrowing a sports phrase, the best defense is a strong offense. Minnesota employers consistently receive national recognition for providing tremendous workplace environments. We will continue to challenge workplace mandates. At the same time, legislators also need to hear about the voluntary wages and benefit plans employers use to attract and retain employees in this competitive marketplace. Minnesota businesses increasingly are offering leave plans that meet the needs of employees such as offer paid maternity and paternity leave, paid sick and safe leave, and other benefits– without state or local mandates. Please share your best practices by contacting Jennifer Byers at 651.292.4673 or jbyers@mnchamber.com.

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Minnesota Legislative Priorities Update Video

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy

Check out the latest video from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce regarding the 2017 legislative priority to reform health care. Bentley Graves, director, Health & Transportation Policy, gives a progress report on our 2017 Health Care Policy.

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