The 2021 legislative special session ended July 7 with Minnesota lawmakers passing a $52 billion budget for the two-year spending plan, avoiding a government shutdown.
Many crucial aspects of the final budget bills directly affect large and small businesses in the state, including local ones. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce compiled a breakdown of the top issues that will affect businesses. The Minnesota Farmers Union also weighed in.
The final tax bill included full conformity with the federal tax law on Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans, which provides employers and employees with tax relief and no tax increases.
A new tax reform passed to provide options for owners of pass-through entities to pay taxes at the entity level, which will lower federal tax burden.
A new health insurance mandate for review and reinsurance passed. It requires a cost/benefit analysis of any new health insurance mandate.
Reinsurance was extended until 2022. The extension will help continue to lower premiums by 20% for individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses that use coverage bought in the individual market.
Workplace management and development
The Senate focused on economic recovery through programs that seek to address workforce development. The goal is to eliminate barriers to workforce entry and participation.
More funding for a freight optimization tool passed, which will maximize the movement of freight and investments of their infrastructure around Minnesota.
Energy and sustainability
A few energy policy proposals were agreed upon by lawmakers to help with the transition to cleaner energy across the state. The Natural Gas Innovation Act and Minnesota Efficiency Technology Accelerator were two programs passed to support carbon reduction.
The act will help natural gas utilities move forward with development of innovative clean energy resources and technologies, including made-in-Minnesota renewable natural gas and green hydrogen, according to CenterPoint Energy.
CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota’s largest natural gas utility serving more than 890,000 residential and business customers, proposed the act.
“Natural gas is indispensable to meeting Minnesota’s energy needs,” said Brad Tutunjian, CenterPoint Energy vice president-Minnesota region. “This new law will help promote new Minnesota-produced, low-carbon or zero-carbon gas resources that can diversify the state’s energy supply, improve waste management and support new economic development.”
The law creates a state regulatory policy that offers new opportunities for a utility to provide customers access to renewables and innovative technologies that reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission must review and approve a utility’s “innovation plan,” with a limit on the cost impact for ratepayers.
The Minnesota Efficient Technology Accelerator will help utilities to “seed the future” for energy efficient and innovative technologies, working with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The goal includes having a skilled and equitable workforce to install and maintain them.
Legislators set aside $70 million for the statewide broadband development program in 2022 and 2023, which is the largest one-time investment to date.
Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program funds will be split evenly over the next two years. The money will come from the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund and the Office of Broadband Development at the Department of Employment and Economic Development must apply to receive the funds from the federal government.
“Broadband infrastructure is critical to people who live in rural areas,” said Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish. “Whether it’s farmers using GPS and other precision technology in their operations, attracting customers to your on-farm store, attending online school or accessing your doctor through a virtual appointment, all Minnesotans need access to high-quality, reliable internet service.”