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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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