April 3, 2015
In this issue:
 
 
 
 
 
Want more info?
Call MADA: 651-291-2400
 
Scott Lambert
Executive Vice President

lambert@mada.org
 
Amber Backhaus
Director,
Government Affairs

Contact Your Legislator:
 
 
MN Senate: 651-296-0504

MN House: 651-296-2146
 


Halftime at the Minnesota Legislature
Where Things Stand for MADA
Minnesota legislators are in the midst of their annual Easter and Passover break.  Activity is on hold until senators and representatives officially reconvene in St. Paul at noon on Tuesday, April 7.  Before they recessed, legislators concluded committee work on policy bills; the focus after the break will turn to budget issues. 
 
Budget Plans Emerge
Minnesota is anticipating a budget surplus of $1.869 billion for the next biennium due to higher tax revenues and lower state spending.  Governor Dayton, Senate Democrats and House Republicans have all announced their spending targets and priorities for dealing with the excess revenue.
 
Due to statutory requirements, Dayton was the first to unveil his budget recommendations in late January, which allocated 75% of what was then an anticipated $1 billion surplus to new investments in education and health and human services. With the announcement of another almost $1 billion in excess revenues after the February budget forecast, Dayton further expanded his spending suggestions with more dollars for tuition freezes at the state’s higher education institutions and services for vulnerable children and senior citizens. 
 
House Republicans are looking to spend less than the governor, with just under $40 billion allocated for state programs versus the governor’s $42.8 billion.  The difference of over $2 billion is expected to be provided in tax relief to Minnesotans, although the details of which have yet to be provided.  Meanwhile, the Senate Democrat’s budget aligns more closely with Dayton’s, but spends about half a billion dollars less and provides a couple of hundred million dollars more in tax relief.  With their budget targets now in place, House and Senate finance committees will have just less than three weeks after the break to put together and finalize their budget proposals before the third committee deadline on Friday, April 24.
 
Budget Items of Interest to MADA
 
MADA is proactively working on three initiatives that have general fund monies attached:
All three proposals made policy deadlines and await further consideration in the relevant budget committees. 
Transportation Funding: to Tax or Not to Tax?
Going into the session, Governor Mark Dayton and Senate Democrats unveiled their plans to increase revenues for transportation funding by raising approximately $11 billion over the next decade through a new gross receipts tax on fuel; increases in motor vehicle registration fees; and raises of the metropolitan sales tax rates.
 
In mid-March, the Republican majority in the House countered with its own plan that spends $7 billion on roads and bridges over the next 10 years without raising taxes.  The GOP plan reallocates current tax dollars collected on the sales of auto parts, tires, and rental cars from the general fund to transportation.  DFLers have decried this approach as “shifts and gimmicks” while GOPers believe it’s the prudent approach in times of such a massive budget surplus.
 
Beyond the differences in the sources of new transportation dollars, the GOP proposal only increases transit funding by $16 million per year, while Dayton and Senate Dems raise almost $300 million per year to expand the transit system.
 
Whether the two sides will be able to meet in the middle is the big question – with much dependent on how the larger budget discussions pan out.
  
 
  
MADA Director of Government Affairs Amber Backhaus testifies against increasing registration fees on new car sales during a hearing on SF 87 in the Senate Transportation Committee. Click on the picture at left to view coverage of the hearing from KSTP.
 
Sunday Closings for Autos Remain Intact....So Far
Just prior to the Easter/Passover break, the Commerce Committees in both chambers assembled their omnibus liquor bills (SF 1238/HF 1090), neither of which removes the prohibition on Sunday sales of alcohol.  That’s good news, as without such language, it makes it more difficult for legislators to add language allowing Sunday sales of cars when the bills get to the floors of their respective bodies.  However, an amendment authorizing Sunday sales of both cars and alcohol could still surface during the floor debates, which will occur in the coming weeks.
 
MADA lobbyists continues to keep up the pressure and will be working to prevent passage – and even consideration – of any amendments that would undermine Sunday auto closings.  Our action plan includes having MADA members contact their legislators before the debates and asking them to oppose any Sunday auto sales language if it is offered.  Please be ready to respond to any such legislative calls to action when the time comes.
 
Of course, MADA will keep you informed on all proposals affecting your dealership throughout the Legislative Session with weekly Legislative Bulletins emailed to you and found at www.mada.org
Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association Legislative Bulletin