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2021 Legislative Agenda

With the State of Minnesota facing a projected deficit, continued Covid-19 mitigation, an ongoing peacetime emergency as declared by the Governor, a newly-formed Senate caucus, and a number of new members in both legislative bodies, there are many “unknowns” as we prepare for the quickly approaching 2021 session (scheduled to gavel-in on January 5, 2021). 


For instance, we do not yet even know how session business will be conducted ... in person? ... virtually? ... only time will tell. 



Either way, MN Small Cities continues to proceed with our agenda as we would in any "normal" legislative season by identifying top priorities, making introductions, conducting meetings (virtually for now) ... and so on. 


The following topics are what we planning for and hoping to address in the coming months: 


LGA

MN Small Cities will be working to guard against any cuts in LGA - as this has been a typical target in years with a budget deficit. Additionally, there is the possibility of change to the LGA formula, which typically happens every decade or so.
BROADBAND

MN Small cities will continue to support efforts to fully fund the Border to Border program but if this is reliant on general funds it could be challenged this session. The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funds the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved.

TRANSPORTATION

  1. 2021 is a budget year and MN Small Cities will once again ask the legislature to dedicate funding to the Small Streets Assistance Account.
  2. We will also continue our collaborative work with the Minnesota Transportation Alliance.
  3. The Alliance is proposing the dedication of a current rental cars tax - to that account.
  4. This would create a fund of $20 Million per year for small cities. 
  5. With the drop in both gas tax revenue and the state budget this will be a challenge but ...
  6. Prior to the election this proposal had bi partisan support and we hope that variable will not change.  

FEDERAL CARES ACT FUNDING (CRF)

  1. It's likely there will be another round of Federal Cares Act Funding with new requirements and guidelines that will be interpreted by the state.
  2. MN Small Cities was instrumental in making sure the 2020 round of funding was fairly allocated to even Minnesota's smallest cities.
  3. As we did before, MN Small Cities will advocate for direct allocations in the next round - HOWEVER ....
  4. In the 2021 round we will also advocate for more CLEAR guidelines for use of the funds, and for important spending flexibility for small cities.

WATER and WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE

The Rural Water Association and the MPCA have asked MN Small Cities to help with legislation that supports greater training and best practices education for small cities’ wastewater treatment facilities. This would be a continuation of a previous program that was funded through the LCCMR as a pilot program and would have a cost of about $1.5 million.

HOUSING


Housing First (formerly the Builders Association) will once again make a big push to reduce city authority on new housing developments. 
MN Small Cities will work with other cities organizations to oppose these measures. Additionally, we will try to work with MN Housing Finance to create more opportunities for workforce housing support in small cities.


Please feel free to contact MN Small Cities Executive Director, Cap O'Rourke if you have questions on these or other issues that affect our small cities. If you would like to receive MAOSC’s monthly newsletters, weekly legislative updates during the legislative session, and other timely announcements, please CLICK HERE to find out how to become a member of MN Small Cities.