DAILY UPDATE FROM ST. PAUL
April 30, 2020
Dear Friends, the TCE bill was passed off the Senate floor today with a 66-1 vote. I am thankful that after many months we were able to find compromise in this legislation between all interested stakeholders. Everyone, I mean everyone, compromised and came together to get this very difficult legislation drafted correctly. I am hopeful that Rep. Wazlawik will get this to the House floor for a vote.
I am glad the governor has decided to relax the stay at home order today. Opening up more businesses and getting more Minnesotans back to work safely is important for the security of those families who need paychecks, for the recovery of our economy, and for our collective ability to clear the psychological hurdles that will get us through this pandemic. The first steps are always the hardest, but I’m glad the governor is helping us move forward. An announcement was made today that there will be a modification on elective procedures in the coming days.
MDH posted the draft guidance April 30 through noon May 2 to solicit feedback and input before final guidance is issued. The draft guidance and public comment survey can be accessed here: https://mn.gov/covid19/business-orgs/resources/elective-surgeries.jsp.
You can always reach me by phone (651.296.1253) or email.
Senate approves Chamberlain bill to prohibit most TCE use
(St. Paul) – The Minnesota Senate today took a significant step in the state’s effort to curb the use of trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic and dangerous chemical some companies use during their manufacturing processes. By an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 66-1, the Senate approved legislation compelling companies to stop using TCE and switch to safer alternatives. The bipartisan agreement is the result of inclusive negotiations involving the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, local business groups, and concerned residents of the community.
“Manufacturers use all sorts of chemicals in their manufacturing processes – some more dangerous than others. We understand these chemicals play an important role, but if there are less-toxic options that will accomplish the same goal, then we have a responsibility to public health to use those safer choices,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), the bill’s author. “We know there are safer alternatives to TCE. Companies should use those instead, if at all possible.”
The most notable use of the chemical was by Water Gremlin, a manufacturer of battery post terminals and fishing sinkers located in White Bear Lake. An investigation into that company found they failed to report accurate TCE emissions data for more than 15 years, and their actions exposed surrounding neighborhoods to dangerous levels of the chemical.
The MPCA is empowered to grant exemptions in limited circumstances, including:
For facilities that use TCE in a closed system and thus there are no emissions
For facilities that are holding products containing TCE for distribution to a 3rd party
For hospitals or academic facilities
For research and development or other laboratory or experimental purposes
For facilities that use TCE in waste disposal
According to the MPCA, there are 113 facilities in Minnesota that have been found to use or generate TCE. Of those, 26 use TCE in their industrial processes. The remaining 87 generate TCE emissions as a byproduct of a manufacturing process or from a landfill. Of those facilities, there are eight that are top priorities for action. Four of those no longer use TCE and three are already reducing their use.
Since last May, facilities have removed more than 174,000 pounds of TCE emissions from their processes, more than 80% of which was a result of compliance actions taken against Water Gremlin.
Senate Coronavirus Economic Recovery Act targets help to small businesses, farmers, schools
(St. Paul) – The Minnesota Senate today approved with bipartisan support a major Republican-led Economic Recovery Act to help small businesses battling financial hardship caused by the coronavirus and the stay-home order. The $330 million bill emphasizes three elements that will benefit impacted businesses and their workers: liquidity to preserve cash flows, stability to give businesses some level of confidence moving forward, and recovery aid to help them push through the pandemic.
“Even with emergency federal and state assistance programs, we are still getting large volumes of calls every single day from small businesses and workers who are right on the edge of survival,” said Senate Tax Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), the bill’s author. “Businesses badly need cash flow and stability if they have any hope of retaining workers and eventually rebuilding when this over. The economic destruction of the coronavirus and the stay-home order has made this recovery package more urgent than ever.”
Small businesses struggling with cash flow due to the crisis will be able to keep more money on hand thanks to delayed tax payments for S-corporations, partnerships, and C-corporations; delayed installments of estimated tax payments; delayed accelerated sales tax payments, and delayed general statewide business property tax payments.
“The bill today aims to target relief to those who need it. Over half a million Minnesotans are at home when they could be working and small businesses are shuttered without consideration of their ability to keep people safe,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “We need to do something to get the economy open again and as soon as possible. These provisions will do just that.”
The bill provides full, retroactive conformity to Section 179 of the federal tax code, which will allow farmers and other small business owners to deduct large equipment purchases.
More families with children in school will be eligible for the K-12 tax credit, thanks to a higher qualifying income threshold.
Other provisions in the bill include:
A fairer school equalization aid formula, so districts with low property wealth will get more revenue
An elimination of sunset and continued funding for the Angel Investment Tax Credit
Charitable gaming tax relief to keep more tax dollars in local communities
Making federal Paycheck Protection Program loans non-taxable on Minnesota taxes
A reduced tax rate for low-income qualifying low-income class 4D rental property
Federal and state governments have already authorized extensions of income tax payments, sales and use tax payments, MinnesotaCare and Provider tax payments, and occupation taxes paid by mining companies.
COVID-19 INFORMATION RESOURCES
MN COVID-19 website