March 5, 2021

Don’t Forget to Register for ABA’s Virtual Washington Summit: March 16-17!

Minnesota Legislature – Weekly Recap*

The legislature is one week away from the First Committee Deadline, when all policy bills must be heard in the body of origin. Policy committees will be meeting in the House and Senate day and night to assure all the bills get heard before the deadline. With the pandemic, it adds another layer of complication to meetings. In the past, committees’ hearings would run long or meet in smaller committee rooms wherever they could find a free one. This year, the House and Senate both have a limited number of zoom accounts that they are utilizing for committee hearings and their normal 90 minutes time frame cannot run over. This will limit the number of committees that can meet next week, which will lead to fewer bills making First Deadline this year.

A bill that doesn’t make First Deadline is often believed to be dead. However, a bill can be moved through the Rules Committee, added to another bill, or even placed in an omnibus bill. No bill is officially dead until the May 17th adjournment day.

GovernorTim Walz(D) will deliver the State of the State on March 21 live from a classroom at Mankato West High School where he used to teach.

Senate Moves Conformity on PPP Loans to Floor

On Tuesday, the Senate Tax Committee, again, heard S.F. 263, authored by Senator Tom Bakk (I-Cook), that would adopt full federal conformity with PPP loan forgiveness and expensing and provide an election for pass-through entities to pay taxes at the entity level (SALT cap). There is a large revenue impact for full PPP conformity of $437 million. Click here to see the cost of the legislation. With the February forecast announcement last week showing a surplus, the Senate Tax Committee doesn’t want to wait any longer to help small businesses and conform on these provisions.

The Committee passed the bill out and sent it to the Floor. The full Senate could take the bill up next week.

Farmer-Lender Mediation Heard in House Commerce Committee

On Wednesday, the House Commerce Committee heard the Farmer-Lender Mediation bill (HF80). The current version in the House would extend ALL mediations an additional 30 days. The bill would also push the sunset out to 2027. The sunset was not set to expire until June 30, 2022. Representative Todd Lippert (D-Northfield) claimed that he has heard from University of Minnesota-Extensions that the timeframe isn’t long enough, so followed up with farmers and they said the same.

The MBA and ICBM each had a banker testify at the hearing with concerns about a 30-day extension without a thorough discussion of the current mediation process. At this time, the University of Minnesota-Extensions has a no in-person policy, which impacts the timeline and we have heard they are lacking in their remote access. Mary Nell Pressler, who runs the program confirmed the mediators cannot meet in person and that many are not set up with Zoom.

The Minnesota Farmers Union also testified with complaints about the timeline not being long enough and that the lenders are not always local. Many of the stories from the testifiers were to blame the process not being long enough, even though we know that lenders are working continuously with the farmers.

Mark Miedtke, Citizens State Bank of Hayfield and former MBA Chair, once again testified at the hearing. Miedtke served on the 2016 Farmer-Lender Mediation Task Force and spoke of the extensive conversations with all the stakeholders that resulted in changes and a longer push out of the sunset date of the law. Miedtke reiterated at this hearing that the bankers are working with their customers before, during and after the mediation and that to say that 90 days is not enough time is untrue. He expressed support of the legislature pulling together another group to study the mediation process, especially in light of COVID, and how to better the program.

Many Republicans on the committee spoke with concerns, most notably Representative Brian Pfarr (R-Le Sueur), who is also a banker with First Farmers & Merchants. Rep. Pfarr spoke of his experience with Farmer-Lender Mediation and of all the work communicating prior to mediation. Mediation is a last resort that no one wants.

Farmer-Lender Mediation has been in law since 1986 with very few changes, it really is time to re-evaluate what is needed. The bill passed and was sent back to the House Agriculture Committee. The House Ag Committee will be taking up an Ag Policy bill next week that will become the Omnibus Policy bill, where this language could be included. Click here for the bill summary.

Tidbits

  • On Tuesday, the House Commerce Committee heard a bill (HF1269) that would exempt government payments for COVID-19 relief issued by the federal, state, or tribal government from garnishment for debts for personal, family, or household purposes that an individual owes. This bill does not exempt the government payments from the collection of child support or spousal maintenance debts that are owed. This section would expire on December 31, 2022. The Governor has a similar Executive Order that is currently in place.
  • On Tuesday, the House Climate and Energy Committee heard a Green Finance Authority bill that establishes the Minnesota Green Finance Authority, a nonprofit corporation designed to strategically deploy its limited public funds in the forms of loans, credit enhancements, and other financing mechanisms to leverage public and private capital to invest in underserved markets for energy conservation and renewable energy projects, agricultural projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate-resilient infrastructure, and projects that reduce water use and enhance water quality. The testifiers claimed there is a gap in financing for clean energy projects and this would help fill the gap. Click here for a McKnight Foundation Report: A Green Recovery for Minnesota. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.
  • Yesterday, the Senate Housing Committee heard a bill, SF1423, that would allow manufactured homes in manufactured home parks that are member owned—such as by a nonprofit or housing cooperative—to have the manufactured home be valued as an improvement to real property. The intent of the author is to help create additional mortgage products for these types of homes. Click on the links for a handout and presentation by Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, which is pushing the bill. The MBA attended meetings on the topic last session to learn more about the intent of the author. We mentioned to the previous author that mortgage products are heavily regulated, and this change may not have the desired result. We commend the legislature for looking for more affordable housing options. We are concerned that if this bill passes, there will be an expectation that financial products will be available, which remains to be seen. The House version was heard last week and laid over for possible inclusion in a future omnibus bill.

Mark Your Calendar

Here are some key dates for the 2021 legislative session:

  • March 12 – 1st Committee Deadline - bills must be out of all policy committees in one body
  • March 16-17 – ABA’s Virtual Washington Summit (more information below)
  • March 19 – 2nd Committee Deadline - bills must be out of all policy committees in both bodies
  • March 21 - Governor Walz’s State of the State Address
  • March 27 – April 5 – Legislative Spring/Passover/Easter Break
  • April 9 – 3rd Committee Deadline - bills must be out of all committees except Finance/Taxes
  • May 17 – Session ends – Constitutionally required adjournment date.
  • May 20 – MBA Minnesota Matters – End of Session Webinar

Next Week (as of Friday morning):

Monday Senate Commerce will hear a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model bill (S.F.1606)regarding privacy and an appraisal bill (S.F.785) and House Education Policy will hear an online personal finance class required for high school graduation bill (HF1617)

Tuesday Senate Higher Ed will hear a bill on licensing for student loan servicers (S.F.1502)

Wed House Commerce will hear the following bills: Checking Account bill (HF1067) that was previously laid over, Student Loan Servicer licensing bill (HF1493), and an appraisal bill (HF737); Senate Commerce will hear additional Department of Commerce technical bills; House Local Government will hear the Street Improvement bill (HF1565– committee ran out of time this week)

Please contact Tess Rice or Therese Kuvaas for any additional information.

For more legislative updates, follow Therese Kuvaas, Government Relations Manager, on Twitter @thkuvaas

Bill Introductions (all introduced on Thursday, March 4):

S.F. No. 1606/ H. F. 1913,:A bill for an act relating to insurance; establishing an Insurance Data Security Law; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 60A; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2020, sections 60A.98; 60A.981; 60A.982.

S.F. No. 1632:A bill for an act relating to taxation; income; allowing pass-through entities to file as C-option corporations; amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, sections 289A.08, by adding a subdivision; 289A.38, by adding a subdivision; 290.01, by adding a subdivision; 290.0132, by adding a subdivision; 290.06, subdivisions 2c, 22; 290.091, subdivision 2; 290.0921, subdivision 2; 290.92, subdivisions 4b, 4c; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 290.

H. F. 1748,A bill for an act relating to economic development; appropriating money for a small business COVID-19 loan program.

S.F. No. 1691:A bill for an act relating to taxation; individual income and corporate franchise; clarifying treatment of section 179 expensing conformity.

S.F. No. 1799: A bill for an act relating to taxation; property; allowing for energy improvement project special assessments; amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, sections 429.011, by adding a subdivision; 429.021, subdivision 1; 429.031, subdivision 3.

Registration Now Open for ABA’s Virtual Washington Summit

Due to the pandemic, the MBA is unable to conduct our normal Washington Visit again this year. However, please consider joining us for ABA’s Virtual Washington Summit.

Registrations are now being accepted for the 2021 ABA Washington Summit, a free virtual event to be held March 16-17. At this year’s summit—which all bankers are encouraged to attend free of charge—attendees will hear from lawmakers and regulators on the top issues of the day, including the pandemic response and relief effort, financial inclusion, cannabis banking, fair lending, AML/BSA reform and nonbank entrants into the financial system. Register now.

*Some of the information provided in the Weekly Recap is reported by Cook Girard - MBA’s contract lobbyists