The Minnesota Chamber's annual Session Priorities event was hosted on Monday night, and your Chamber public affairs team was happy to be back in person for this annual event. Special thanks go out to Board Chair Marcia Droege and Representative Keith Franke for joining our table.
The program included a panel discussion with the four legislative leaders: House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, Speaker Melissa Hortman, Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen, and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller. The four leaders have some major and minor differences over policy (paid family leave, recreational marijuana, size of the bonding bill) but also seemed to agree on quite a few topics, including two that are top priorities for our Chamber: public safety and the need to refill the Unemployment Trust Fund without putting a tax increase on our member businesses. All four agreed that the UI issue should be fixed "soon."
Governor Walz was interviewed by KSTP's Tom Hauser on a laundry list of topics. I found the Governor's remarks to be candid. When asked about looking back on the decisions he made in the first year of the pandemic, he defended the decisions, but also expressed regret for things that could have been done to support businesses. “In retrospect, if we were asking businesses to close in the name of public health, we absolutely had the responsibility to make sure we try to offset some of that revenue loss. And we didn’t. That said, in Minnesota, we struck a pretty decent balance. Across the 50 states, MN ranked among the top 5 states in terms of mortality rates, hospital capacity, days in the classroom, and economic activity. We made our decisions based on the best knowledge we had at the time.”
All in all, I thought the discussion was positive, and there seem to be places for the legislature to work together. We'll see if that goodwill gets extended into the session. With every member of the legislature and the Governor on the ballot this year, the stakes are bound to be a lot higher. Your Chamber team will be engaged throughout the session, so if you have a question on an issue, feel free to reach out to me, Shannon or JP.
See you in the trenches.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.