The legislative season has been interesting to say the least. Through our public affairs efforts, we have been keeping a close eye on what the Minnesota and North Dakota legislative bodies are working on.
In North Dakota, revenue shortcomings are dictating the conversation. With major belt tightening underway, it seems everyone is feeling the effects. However there are certain areas that seem to be seeing devastating cuts. We are fortunate to have a strong higher education system in the North Dakota portion of the Red River Valley. North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science are not only an integral part of the future of our workforce, but they are also some of the top regional employers. They are facing nearly 20% and 24%, respectively, budget reductions. This extreme of a cut causes organizations to not just tighten the belt but make decisions that may take years to recover from. The Chamber stands by our higher education institutions and we our dedicated to supporting them far into the future.
Minnesota is facing a different set of money issues as they evaluate priorities when it comes to their close to $1.4 billion surplus. Tax cuts for residents and business owners are a top priority with lawmakers. The historic Sunday liquor sales legislation was passed and will take effect on July 2, 2017. Another important piece of legislation, the REAL ID bill ended up failing in the Senate. Currently, Minnesota IDs will not be federally recognized and Minnesota residents will not be able to use them to board an airplane as soon as 2018. This is a hindrance to all Minnesotans. We are thankful to Representative Ben Lien, who voted in support of this bill and we hope this may be revisited before it is too late.
On March 15, we were able to host Ron Eidshaug, vice president of Congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a meeting. He was able to share a brief overview of the U.S. Chamber’s priorities in working with Congress members. Dedicated to regulatory reform, the U.S. Chamber has been urging congress members to streamline agency rulemaking and make it a more transparent and efficient process. We are thankful for the work they do advocating for business on the federal level.
As we do every legislative year, we look forward to hosting our legislative wrap ups for Minnesota and North Dakota. I hope to see you there!
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