Here are some bills that affect Rochester at the State Legislature. Do you have any feedback for me? These are draft city positions, so I am just looking for input.
Listed below are a number of bills that the City is following in this legislative session. I will list them briefly and if you need or want any additional information on the City views on these bills please contact me and I, Councilmembers or other staff will be happy to discuss them with you. It is only my intent at this time to flag some of the bills of main interest for the City and not provide all the details and arguments pro and con for the bills. Many of the bills most beneficial to the City have been introduced by or have authors from Rochester. We sincerely appreciate your support.
The City is a member of the League of Minnesota Cities and Coalition of Greater Minnesota cities organizations. We are in contact with those organizations and have been working with those organizations throughout the session. To date I do not believe the City of Rochester has any positions on bills that are contrary to the positions being taken by those organizations Thanks to all of you for your help and work on behalf of the City this session.
- MCC Bonding (HF `185 Norton, Liebling, Hausman SF 342 Senjem Nelson) and Lodging Tax Change (HF 297 Liebling, SF 1406 Senjem). We appreciate and request your support on these bills. In addition to the City, both these bills are supported by the RCVB, Chamber and Mayo. The expanded MCC is an anchor facility for the DMC Initiative.
- DMC Legislation (HF 409 Norton, Davids, M Benson, Liebling, Quam, Mahoney, Daudt and 6 others, SF 343 Senjem, Skoe, Nelson, Schmidt, Sparks). The City has been in close cooperation and coordination with Mayo on this vitally important legislation throughout this session. This is a critical bill for Minnesota and the Rochester Area.
- LGA. HF 1608. Recently all the various City organizations (LMC, CGMC, Metro Cities) and Minneapolis and St. Paul, have reached agreement on a revised LGA formula for the distribution of LGA funding including the Governor’s recommended $80 million in additional funding. It is believed that this revised formula could work and be applied for at least several subsequent years. The impacts of this formula and the requested $80 million in new LGA funding, after many years of reductions, are very favorable for the cities in Senate Districts 25 and 26. You will be receiving letters and resolutions of support for this new formula and the $80 million in funding from many of those cities. For Rochester it would mean an increase of $1.8 million over our 2013 LGA amount of $5.1 million. We would note that Rochester was scheduled to receive over $11 million in LGA in 2003. We ask your support of the new formula and for the $80 million in additional LGA.
- CGMC Economic Development Bills. The CGMC has worked with Senate and House Authors to introduce several bills that would increase economic development and jobs in Greater Minnesota. These bills include:
-the Angel Investment Tax Credit bill (SF 285 Sen. Carla Nelson, Koenen, Rosen, Rest, Gazelka HF 1228 M. Benson, Gunther, Abeler), which the City is very interested in for future biobusiness and other business start-ups in Rochester;
-a Jobs Training bill;
-HF 331 Norton, Davids, Dorholt, Mahoney, et al SF 241 Eken, Sheran, Tomassoni, Miller, Fischbach. A bill to provide a tax credit equal to 40% of the internship for Minnesota college students.
-a new Economic Development Bill that provides a modified replacement for JobZ (HF 1578 Savick, Dill, Howe SF 1451 Jensen, Schmidt, Koenen, J. Pederson), which is scheduled to expire in 2015.
- Energy Bills – Impacts on Municipal Electric Utilities. There are some provisions included within the omnibus energy bills that are very concerning to municipal electric and coop electric utilities. Some of the provisions of concern include a solar mandate, a 1% fee to subsidize solar installations anywhere in the State, and the State setting the rate paid for solar. RPU and the City are concerned about the impact of these provisions and, if you have questions, we would be happy to discuss the bill with you. Larry Koshire and Joe Hensel of RPU are the best contacts on these bills.
- Election Bills – Removal of Deceased Candidates Name (SF 90 Senjem, HF 122 Norton, Sanders, Simon). The City has worked with the LMC and local authors to introduce a bill to enable the withdrawal of a deceased candidate’s name within certain time periods. It is my understanding this provision is moving forward successfully to date and will be included in the Omnibus Election bill.
- Special Services District and Housing Improvement Districts Expiration Removed (SF 212 Franzen, Senjem, Nelson, Rest, Scalze HF 350 Yarusso, M. Benson, Nelson, Bernardy, Laine). This bill is progressing in the House and Senate and is an LMC effort. The City currently has and has had a special services district in the downtown to provide funding for the activities of the RDA (additional funding is provided by the City and Mayo) since 2006. No new special services districts can be established under current law after 2014. This language is somewhat ambiguous and may apply if the City later wants to extend the life of the existing district beyond its current expiration in 2015. There are provisions in the current law that will remain for annual hearings and notifications to affected property-owners for each year of the district. The Downtown Special Services District has been, as you know, very effective and beneficial in joint marketing and the creation of events in the downtown that have increased business activity. At the annual hearings since 2007 there have been no property-owner objections to the Special Services District and the additional tax payment for those RDA services.
- Exemption of City/County From State Sales Tax Bill (SF 329 Senjem, Ortman, Nelson, Benson HF295 Zerwas Hertaus and 5 others). City and County Governments became subject to paying the State sales tax in about 1991, as budget deficit revenue raising idea. Prior to that local governments were exempt based on the belief that it did not make a lot of sense for one layer of government to pay a tax to the higher layer. Several years ago the City calculated the annual sales tax cost paid by the City organization to the State at over $1 million annually.
- Street Improvement District Bill (SF 607 Carlson, J Pederson, Senjem, Dibble, Rest HF 745 Erhardt, Hornstein, Gunther, Thorkelson, Bly). This is an LMC supported bill which the City also supports. If enacted it would provide an additional and improved method to undertake road construction, reconstruction and maintenance to address this critical infrastructure.
- Highway 14 4 Lane Construction Owatonna to Rochester (HF 1107 Quam, Norton, Liebling, M. Benson, Petersburg SF 808 Senjem). Requests $160 million in trunk Highway Bonds to construct Highway 14 as a four lane.
- Transportation Economic Study Related to the DMC (HF 1234 M. Benson, Quam SF 1047 Senjem). Would provide $175,000 for a MNDOT/ROCOG study of transportation needs related to the DMC
- Online Homework Help Bill (SF 781 Hoffman, Johnson, Stumpf, Nelson, Jensen HF 1145 Brynaert, S. Erickson). On line help can be provided by public libraries, school libraries and other libraries. Supported by City of Rochester Library. Cost $750,000 2014, $600,000 2015.
- Funding for 3rd Judicial District Drug Court HF 810 Norton, Liebling, M. Benson, Quam, SF 1020 Senjem, Nelson. Funding provided to start a drug court in District Court.
- Funding for Local Roads and Bridges of Statewide Significance (HF 226 Norton, SF 295 Tomassoni, J. Pederson, Dibble, Rest, Senjem. Would provide $84 million for these improvements.
- Annexation Bills. The City is not seeking nor supporting any annexation law changes this session.
- Email Addresses Privacy Bill (SF 60 Scalze HF 20 Frieberg). The LMC has sponsored a bill that would protect citizens who contact the City to be on lists for crime alerts, or project information or emergency alerts from having their email address and phone numbers disclosed to third parties that use that information to contact them. Several cities, including Rochester, had individuals who contacted the City to request all the emails addresses and phone information that the City system had received. These contacts were thousands of email addresses per community. This bill would prevent that and the City supports that as it is an intrusion on citizens who did not anticipate that their contacting the City would disclose their email and phone data to others and it is very costly and time consuming to provide this information.
- Non Profit Properties Exempted from City fees and service charges HF 781 M. Nelson , Marquardt, Davids, Loon, Dill – SF 1050 Eaton, Rest, Senjem ). This bill is opposed by the LMC and city organizations. It would exempt public charity institutional property from a broad range of potential fees such as storm water, street light utility, potentially assessments and others shifting those costs to other property-owners. It would create inequity in applying City costs and fees by favoring one group of property-owners. The bill would apply broadly to any fees or charges of the City.