Each week during the Minnesota legislative session, the Minnesota Farm Bureau will highlight its work with elected officials to support our members and agriculture. While we advocate for our members on a wide variety of topics, our Board of Directors set six priority issues for the 2022 state legislative session, and our efforts to advance those issues are highlighted below.
Recap: Week of May 2-6
The Minnesota legislature is closing in on adjournment in just a few weeks. They are wrapping up their work on passing omnibus bills out of each chamber and meeting in conference committees to negotiate the differences to see if there can be agreement on a variety of issues before the legislature adjourns. Next week will see a handful of conference committee meetings on Farm Bureau priorities.
A few things that happened at the state legislature this week:
House Tax Bill
The Minnesota House passed their tax bill on May 4 by a vote of 69-62. This now awaits conference committee with the Senate. Overall this bill would result in $1.65 billion in tax reductions and credits in the 2022-23 biennium and $1.6 billion in the next biennium, according to the Department of Revenue.
Provisions MFBF supported in the House bill include:
- Extending the Beginning Farmer Tax credit to include the sale of agricultural assets to family members;
- Allowing for portability in the estate tax;
- Increasing the Ag2School tax credit to 85% for property taxes payable in 2024;
- Exempting fencing materials from sales tax by adding them to the definition of farm machinery;
- Classifying hemp as an agricultural product; and
- Calling for a special review of costs to counties for the provision of child protective services.
Senate Higher Education Bill
On May 4, the Senate passed their version of the Higher Education bill authored by Chair David Tomassoni, I-Chisholm, and Vice-Chair Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, which establishes a skills path program for high school students to pursue careers in skilled work and trades. Specifically, the Office of Higher Education would award grants of up to $50,000 to ten high schools to help students develop skills in trades facing workforce shortages.
The higher education bill will be forwarded to a conference committee, where differences between the Senate and House versions will be addressed.
Unemployment Insurance and Front Line Workers
On May 2, Governor Walz held a ceremonial bill signing of the legislative agreement to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and provide hero checks to the workers who continued to work during the early days of COVID-19 pandemic.
The law allocates about $500 million to provide bonuses of up to $750 to approximately 667,000 eligible workers. The measure also includes $2.7 billion to pay off the federal debt in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and replenish the fund to near-pre-pandemic levels, Without the measure, Minnesota businesses would have seen a significant increase in payroll taxes.
Details of the frontline worker pay program, including the application process and timeline, are still being finalized. More information can be found at https://frontlinepay.mn.gov/.
Detailed information for businesses regarding unemployment insurance tax payments and refunds is available online at https://mn.gov/uimn/employers/employer-account/news-updates/tax-changes-affect-you.jsp.