Two Year Process: In 2020, Minnesota is in year two of the legislative biennium. Legislation introduced last session is still active. It does not need to be re-introduced, can be picked up again by committees, or if passed through part of the two chamber process can continue in that process. This means that legislation we addressed last year could still be passed.
2020 State Priorities: The LA-MN Policy Council decided early on that brand new issues should not be considered, but rather that work started on unfinished issues should continue.
1) Affordable Housing, Homelessness & Related Services: Although 2019 was not a bonding year, bonding for affordable housing was passed and was really the only issue that got significant attention from both parties and both chambers. However, the legislature was and remains behind on what needs to be passed to catch up with the statewide housing crisis.
For that reason, as part of the Homes for All coalition, we are calling for $500 million in bonding for the creation of new housing and rehabilitation of existing stock. While that may sound (including to legislators) like a huge amount of money, it is really only a down-payment on what is actually needed. Other states in similar situations with similar sized budgets have passed $900 million to $1.4 billion in bonding for housing. We will also be working to continue to address aspects from last year’s Minnesota Housing and Human Services agenda, and to make policy improvements to help bring tenants more rights in a system significantly weighted toward landlords. While these changes won’t impact good landlords, they will help prevent abuses by slumlords.
2) Clean Energy, Clean Air, Climate, and Jobs: Minnesota surpassed early the Renewable Energy Standard set in 2007 of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 for electric energy and 30 percent for Xcel Energy. Last year, the House of Representatives passed significant legislation for 100% clean energy by 2050, but it went nowhere in the Senate. Both chambers debated “Clean Energy First” provisions, which we support, with the idea that if clean energy (renewables and efficiency savings) are less expensive than energy from fossil fuels, they should be considered first. The senate version has lots of loopholes.
Much of our work on clean energy in 2020 will be focused on the senate – a) educating regarding remaining misunderstandings about the climate crisis, b) calling generally for 100% Clean Carbon Neutral Energy by 2050 and Clean Energy First (without debating every detail within the various 100% bills), and c) calling for transition provisions to help communities where fossil fuel jobs will be lost (while supporting the rapidly growing clean energy economy & jobs), and d) working for adaptation and resilience for those most impacted already by the climate crisis, especially low-income communities and farmers.
Federal Priorities: LA-MN will continue to partner with ELCA Advocacy to aggressively protect programs important for vulnerable people and our vulnerable earth, with special focus on protecting and welcoming vulnerable immigrants.