January 6, 2015
Want more info?
Call MADA: 651-291-2400
Scott Lambert
Executive Vice President

Amber Backhaus
Government Affairs

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

MN House: 651-296-2146

Legislative Session Begins Today
At noon today, the 89th biennium of the Minnesota Legislature will get underway in St. Paul.  For the first time since 1985-1986, Republicans will control the House of Representatives and Democrats the Senate and governor’s office. Despite having divided government, legislative leaders Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) are promising to work on issues where there is consensus and room for compromise.
Fostering the situation and sense of bipartisanship is the fact that the state is anticipating a $1 billion budget surplus, which makes setting the state’s two-year budget much easier than if large deficits were forecast.  With regard to the extra revenue, both Daudt and Bakk have expressed an interest keeping a lid on new spending.  They also share an interest in improving the plight of greater Minnesota and encouraging policies that promote economic development, such as expanded broadband access and removing regulatory barriers for farmers and major mining and pipeline projects.
For MADA, divided government should slow the breadth and scope of anti-business and expensive new tax bills that proliferated during 2013-2014.  Instead of playing lots of defense, we anticipate focusing on just a handful of issues on behalf of our members:
Transportation Funding
Across the political spectrum, there appears to be consensus that Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure needs increased investment, but that’s where the agreement ends.  How to fund maintenance and new construction and where it should be applied depends on whether you are Republican or Democrat; metro or rural; bus rider or car driver.  Whatever proposals are put forward, MADA will continue to advocate that taxes and fees on new vehicle sales are already substantially higher than in the surrounding states and should not be increased further.
Sunday Sales
Over the weekend, Speaker Daudt opined to the Star Tribune that his new year’s resolution is to be able to buy beer on Sundays in Minnesota.  His statement of support for Sunday liquor sales is a stark contrast from past sessions, where legislative leadership has not weighed in on the issue.  New Republican legislators inclined to support the free-market and less government regulation may give the issue of Sunday alcohol sales new life this year. Additionally, the Minnesota Beer Activists have amped up their lobbying and public relations in support of authorizing Sunday liquor sales with the launch of new websites and advertising on political blogs.
MADA staff is keeping close tabs on the issue and continues to work to ensure Sunday auto sales do not become part of the legislative conversation.  To date, neither the chief authors of the proposals nor legislative leadership have indicated their support of lifting the ban on Sunday car sales to the debate.  MADA will continue to educate and impress upon legislators the distinction between alcohol and autos and how they are sold.
Undoubtedly, other issues will arise that impact Minnesota’s auto dealers.  Please continue to look toward the Legislative Bulletin to keep you abreast of the latest from the Capitol.  And if you ever have questions or concerns about what’s happening in St. Paul, don’t hesitate to reach out to MADA Director of Government Affairs Amber Backhaus.
Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association Legislative Bulletin