May 1, 2020


Governor Walz Extends Stay At Home Order*

Governor Tim Walz announced yesterday that he will extend Minnesota’s “Stay at Home” (SAH) order another two weeks, until May 18th, but with some adjustments.

The latest SAHorder allows all retail stores to provide curbside pick-up and delivery and encourages Minnesotans to wear masks when they leave their homes. It also spells out requirements that all non-critical exempt businesses must abide by in order to resume operations, including a preparedness plan and training employees about that plan - more information on those requirements can be foundhere.

Restaurants, bars, salons, gyms and similar establishments must remain closed, but the Governor said there could be further allowances made between now and May 18 for other types of businesses.

Walz also said his administration was working with Minnesota hospitals on a plan to bring elective health care procedures back online and hoped to have an announcement on that in the next few days.

Minnesota Legislature

On Wednesday, House and Senate DFLers held a press conference to outline their economic security agenda to assist Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. With the end of session (May 18th) quickly approaching, they are focused on the following priorities:

  • Keeping Minnesotans safe in their homes with a $100 million investment in housing assistance
  • Providing economic security for our education professionals by ensuring full pay for hourly school employees
  • Providing economic security for the personal care assistants who care for vulnerable Minnesotans through a wage increase
  • Keeping Minnesotans connected by ensuring all Minnesotans have access to the broadband they need to go online
  • Helping families make ends meet by using available federal funding to boost payments for low-income working Minnesotans in the Minnesota Family Investment Program

The House and Senate have agreed they would like a bonding bill this session. However, getting to a target may be a challenge with the House starting around $3.5 billion and the Senate closer to $750 million.

Yesterday, the Senate approved a tax bill (S.F. 3843) on a 40-27 vote, that would postpone the due date for roughly $1 billion in state taxes, expand a number of tax credits and cut rates for charitable gambling.The House majority is not in agreement with the Senate majority on these tax provisions.

Provisions of the bill that would help businesses during this time include:

  • Full conformity of Section 179 business expensing provisions to help encourage investment in Minnesota operations by small businesses and farmers
  • Tax payment extensions for income taxes and property taxes
  • Clarification that taxpayers must not claim the benefit of both the exclusion from gross income of paycheck protection loans under the CARES Act and deductions ordinarily claimed for employee expenses used to reduce tax liability.

The legislature started the session with a projected $1.3 billion surplus. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out the budget reserves. Next week, Minnesota Management and Budget is expected to provide an update on the state’s finances. Senator Tom Bakk (D-Cook) spoke on the floor asking to wait until after the next fiscal update was released as they do not have accurate numbers for this tax bill.

Click here for a summary of the Senate tax bill.

MBA-Sponsored Senior Financial Exploitation Bill Passes Out of House Commerce Committee

On Monday afternoon, the MBA-Sponsored bill (H.F. 2475/S.F. 2466), authored by Representative Jennifer Schultz (D-Duluth) and Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), to address financial exploitation of seniors and vulnerable adults was heard in the remote House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.There are no new requirements placed on banks, but it would allow them to delay a transaction if the bank reasonably suspects financial exploitation is occurring.

Tess Rice, MBA’s General Counsel and Director of Government Relations, testified before the committee stating that bankers do not take delaying these transactions lightly. Bankers take these situations very seriously and try to do what is best for the customer.

Here is a summary of what is included in the bill:

  • The bill would allow a financial services provider to delay a transaction if they reasonably believe that it may result in financial exploitation of a person 65 years of age or older or a vulnerable adult. The delay or hold would expire when the bank has a reasonable belief that it won’t result in financial exploitation or 15 days after the attempted transaction. The hold may be extended for an additional 10 days.The bank and its employees would be immune from civil, administrative, or criminal liability if acting in good faith.
  • The bill would also authorize a financial services provider to notify a third party associated with the customer of suspected financial exploitation. The bank would be immune from liability for notifying the third party.
  • If a bank, in good faith, places a hold on a transaction directed by an attorney-in-fact, the bank will not be considered to have violated the power of attorney statute
    (Minn. Stat. 523.20).

The bill passed out of committee and is now headed to House Judiciary and Civil Law where it will receive a hearing on Monday, May 4th at 8:00 a.m. The Senate version had been stuck in the Senate State Government Committee and was expected to be heard in March before everything got shut down. Yesterday on the Senate Floor, Senator Housley made a motion to withdraw the bill from the committee and send it directly to the Floor. That motion passed. We expect the bill to be debated Monday on the Senate Floor.

House Ways and Means Hears Small Business Loan Bill that includes Payday Lending Language and Financial Institution Account Opening Change

This morning, the House Ways and Means Committee met to discuss a small business loan bill, H.F. 1507, that would appropriate $50 million in federal funds under the CARES Act and $5 million from a loan guarantee trust fund account in a special revenue fund to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for the Small Business Emergency Loan Program. There is a breakdown within the bill of how the funds need to be allocated to these small businesses.

In a previous hearing, two consumer-related provisions were added to the bill and are still contained in the bill. They are:

  • Language that would remove long-standing language in statute that will not allow a financial institution to open an account for someone that has had their account closed due to NSF activity.
  • Language that addresses small dollar loans (aka payday loans). The language states that for any small dollar loans made after the declaration of a “public health emergency” until February 15, 2021, must extend the repayment period for the loan, including applicable interest, fees, penalties, and charges, to allow the borrower to repay the loan in equal installments over a period of 12 months.

Click here for a summary of the bill. There was significant discussion of additional amendments on broadband for distance learning. After the broadband amendment, there was another amendment that included the eviction/foreclosure/emergency housing funding (details in the next section of this Political Insight) language into the bill. The bill, as amended, passed and is headed to the House Floor.

Additional Hearings on Foreclosure Moratoriums and Housing Funding

This week, the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee (Monday) and the House Ways and Means Committee (today) both held remote hearings to discuss bills that impact renters and homeowners. The bills are different, and there is still no consensus on funding and other details between the two bodies.

The House version, H.F. 4541, as amended today, provides financial assistance to residential tenants, homeowners, and manufactured homeowners to pay for housing costs if they have lost income due to COVID-19.

  • This bill limits landlords from assessing late fees, terminating, or failing to renew leases, and initiating evictions during and after a peacetime emergency related to COVID-19.
  • It also prevents foreclosures from being started during a peacetime emergency related to COVID19. The bill would also prevent foreclosures during additional peacetime emergencies prior to January 15, 2021.
  • The bill provides $100 million dollars in funding to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to administer a grant fund under the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program to provide funding to households to pay rent and mortgage payments. The funds would be sent directly to the landlord or mortgage servicer.

The bill passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and will be sent to the House Floor.

The Senate version, S.F. 4495, as amended during Monday’s hearing, also provides financial assistance to residential tenants, homeowners, and manufactured home owners to pay for housing costs if they have lost income due to COVID-19. The amendment offered in committee removes the mortgage foreclosure moratorium language. Details of the Senate version:

  • The bill provides a 30-day moratorium on evictions beginning on March 24, 2020, which was the effective date of the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order 20-14 related to eviction prohibitions due to COVID-19. The language is similar to the language of the executive order.
  • The bill allows the Governor to extend the eviction moratorium for up to 30 days.
  • The bill provides that providing false information with an intent to defraud under this act is theft and may be punished accordingly.
  • The bill appropriates $30 million for emergency housing assistance grants to households affected by COVID-19 with a reduction in income of 15 percent or more and with a current gross income under 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

The committee passed the bill, as amended, and sent the bill to Senate Finance.

Tidbits

  • A bill (S.F. 4091) was heard and amended on Tuesday in the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. The Department of Commerce’s Technical Policy bill was portrayed as technical and non-controversial, but it was never run past industries impacted by the changes. Many were unhappy when the bill was dropped last week, and the Department did amend the bill to take out sections that were controversial. Included in the bill was language that adjusts the amount certain national banks must deposit in offices located in Minnesota in order to act as a fiduciary. The bill passed out of committee.

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

H.F. 4584A bill for an act relating to civil procedure; exempting property tax refunds from attachment, garnishment, or sale; amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 550.37, by adding a subdivision. (Introduced in House on Tuesday, April 28)

H.F. 4585A bill for an act relating to consumer protection; exempting certain federal pandemic relief payments from creditor processes; amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 550.37, subdivision 20, by adding a subdivision. (Introduced in House on Tuesday, April 28)

H.F. 4596A bill for an act relating to taxation; income; excluding forgiven loans from gross income. (Introduced in House on Tuesday, April 28)

H.F. 4599A bill for an act relating to agriculture; modifying the time period for the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act in 2020; amending Laws 2020, chapter 74, article 1, section 19. (Introduced in House on Tuesday, April 28)

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