2019 Minnesota Legislative Session Results

As one of the only divided legislatures in the country, legislative leaders and Governor Walz worked through a series of negotiations to forge compromises on a host of issues. Leaders came to an agreement on the state budget for the next two years, and a special session was called to pass the agreed upon bills. There are a number of tech issues that were included in the final agreement:

Omnibus Jobs Bill: Link

  • SciTechsperience—lines 18.22-19.9 SciTech was funded at $1.75 million over the next biennium. This long-standing successful program remains in place to serve STEM employers and students alike. Funding at this level will help connect 400 STEM students with paid internships at small businesses across Minnesota.
  • Minnesota Innovation Collaborative (renamed Launch Minnesota)—lines 50.7-56.10 The Minnesota Innovation Collaborative, an initiative designed to support a series of programs designed to accelerate the growth of startups and innovative companies, was renamed Launch Minnesota and funded at $5 million over the next biennium. A state matching grant program at $50,000 per recipient per biennium for Phase 2 SBIR/STTR recipients is included (lines 54.18-54.24) as part of the innovation grant programs.

Omnibus Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Bill: Link

  • Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program—line 145 The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is designed to provide state resources that help make the financial case for new and existing providers to invest in building broadband infrastructure into unserved and underserved areas of the state. The program is funded at $20 million/year for the next two years. This is the first time that the program has received biennial funding.

Omnibus Tax Bill: Link, Details

  • Angel Tax Credit program— lines 57.13- 68.22. $10 million has been allocated for the Angel Investment Tax Credit Program. This program is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2018 and before January 1, 2020; and taxable years beginning after December 31, 2020 and before January 1, 2022. While no funding is available in 2020, MHTA is excited to have secured funding for 2019 and 2021. There were some other changes, such as including veteran-owned businesses in the category of targeted businesses (women, minority-owned, and greater MN businesses). The investment threshold was also lowered to $7,500 for these targeted businesses.
  • Data Center Sales Tax Exemption— lines 226.3- 228.26. The Data Center Sales Tax Exemption, which provides incentives for companies to build data or network operation centers in Minnesota, saw no changes this session after being under threat from the Department of Revenue.

MHTA will continue to educate legislators and advocate for policies that will strengthen Minnesota’s science and technology ecosystem. The legislature has adjourned until noon on Tuesday, February 11. 2020.

2019 Minnesota Legislative Session Details

State government in Minnesota has a new look in 2019 following elections last year. The 2019 Legislative Session began on Tuesday, January 8 as the House and Senate were called to order. The Democrats took control of the House and Republicans maintained a majority in the Senate, and Minnesota became the only divided legislature in the country.Tim Walz was sworn in as the 41st Governor of Minnesota following Mark Dayton’s 8 years of service.

With all these changes, it is important for the Minnesota High Tech Association to speak for the technology community and educate legislators by advocating for public policy that strengthens Minnesota’s technology-based economy and positions Minnesota as a global leader through the development and use of advanced technologies.

MHTA’s Public Policy committee passed its Legislative Agenda with those tenets in mind, and believes that strong, consistent, focused leadership from the private sector, working in collaboration with academic, nonprofit and government partners, is the critical link in driving our state’s development and recognition as a global technology leader.

As the 2019 session develops, we want to keep you up to date on the work of MHTA staff and partners at the Capitol, and flag important items as they come up. MHTA will advocate for policies that strengthen Minnesota’s science and technology workforce, as well as those that leverage technology to increase government efficiency and improve and sustain Minnesota’s infrastructure.

MHTA will sponsor, support and/or respond to legislation that furthers these principles. Additionally, MHTA will respond to issues and potential legislation that affect member companies and technology businesses in Minnesota as they arise.

MHTA Testimony

Policy Director John Dukich Testifies before a Senate Committee in 2019.

Public hearings are held early in the session so that legislative committees can collect public comment on the bills they are considering. These public hearings are an important opportunity for people to speak directly to the committee about issues that are important to them.

MHTA staff are active participants in this process, testifying about the impact of legislation on the technology community as issues arise. Thus far, MHTA staff and member companies have testified in relation to the following prospective legislation:

  • Feb. 12: House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division (HF369)—Federal research and development support program created, and money appropriated
  • Feb. 20: Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee (SF788)—Provides Angel Tax Credit program with $20 million in ongoing funding
  • Feb. 21: Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee (SF1264)—Establishes a state legislative cybersecurity commission
  • Feb. 27: Senate Tax Committee (SF996)—establishes a state simplified alternative R&D Tax Credit
  • Feb. 27: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance (SF9 and SF1231)—provides $35 million in annual funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.
  • Feb 28: House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division (HF955)—provides $3.47 million in funding for the SciTechsperience Internship Program.
  • March 11: House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division (HF7)—Broadband Grant Program Money Appropriated (support)
  • March 12: House Jobs & Economic Development Finance Division (HF1268)—Small business investment credit (Angel Tax Credit) made permanent, and technical and conforming changes made (support)
  • March 13: House Committee on Taxes (HF2125)—Governor’s omnibus tax bill (support Angel Tax Credit provisions; oppose provisions related to changes to qualified data center tax incentive)
  • March 21: House State Government Finance Division (HF136)—Internet service providers serving Minnesota customers and those under contract to the state or political subdivisions prohibited certain activities, and monetary fines authorized (oppose)

For a full calendar of legislative committee hearings, click here.

The Governor’s Budget Proposal

Governor Tim Walz submitted his budget proposal on February 19. Here are the 6 key areas outlined in his budget that will affect science and technology in Minnesota:

  1. Data Center Software Sales Tax Exemption Modification
  2. Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program
  3. Minnesota Innovation Collaborative
  4. Angel Tax Credit Program
  5. Minnesota IT Services (Cybersecurity)
  6. Department of Commerce (IT Modernization)—Potential Contract Opportunity

More details on the above budget items are available here.

2019 CompTIA DC Fly-in

In February, MHTA’s Policy Director, John Dukich, traveled to Washington, DC as part of the annual CompTIA DC Fly-in. Along with the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), CompTIA provides associations like MHTA the opportunity to influence technology policy at the federal level. The Fly-in is a two-day event, with the first day focused on various technology policy issues, followed by an award ceremony recognizing federal policymakers, and the second focused on visiting with Minnesota’s congressional delegation on Capitol Hill. This year’s policy issues included:

1.       Building the Cybersecurity Workforce Through Apprenticeships
2.       Prioritizing Emerging Technologies Within an Infrastructure Package
3.       Now Is the Time for Federal Privacy Legislation
4.       The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Moving from Automated to Autonomous

Summaries of the discussion on each policy area can be found on the agenda tab here.

On the second day of the event, attendees heard speeches from a number of people, including Commissioner Brendan Carr from the Federal Communications Commission and former member of Congress Lamar Smith. Following the speeches, attendees set off for Capitol Hill to meet with members of congress to discuss issues of importance to our technology industry. This year, CompTIA’s policy focus is prioritizing emerging technology within an infrastructure package; an infrastructure package is something that Congress and the White House might be able to work together on this year.

CompTIA publishes a briefing book each year, where you can find details about the issues that CompTIA advocates for on Capitol Hill. MHTA’s state legislative agenda can be found here.