Senator Mark Koran’s 1.8.21 Legislative Update

Greetings Senate District 32 Constituents

I want to take a moment to share information about recent developments at the capitol and some exciting news from the past few weeks. 

On Tuesday, December 1, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released its November 2020 forecast projecting a $641 million dollar surplus. This is an improvement of $2.955 billion dollars in comparison to deficit estimates published at the end of October. This change is driven by a $1.912 billion dollar increase in forecasted revenues and a $1.058 billion dollar decrease in forecasted expenditures. However, a $1.273 billion-dollar budgetary shortfall remains for FY 2022-23. Although I believe Minnesota should use this surplus to provide tangible relief for every Minnesotan as we grapple with COVID-19, our government must still realize the dangers that are present in the future and adjust accordingly. That means no tax increases, decreasing the size of government, and eliminating ballooning waste. These efforts, coupled with reforms that help our residents, will ensure that we best prepare Minnesota for a future that is financially uncertain.

COVID-19 Relief

On Monday, December 14 the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to provide relief for businesses that have been closed or impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. The bill provides emergency assistance in three tiers.

1. $88 million is allocated for businesses in industries directly impacted by the executive order, including bars, restaurants, and gyms. These businesses will receive a check mailed directly to them, with no need to apply. Assistance will be broken down as follows:

Businesses that are down 30% in revenue and have 0-20 employees will receive $15,000
Businesses with 21-100 employees will receive $25,000
Businesses with 101-300 employees will receive $35,000
Business with more than 300 employees will receive $45,000
2. $14 million is approved for small business relief grants available through DEED. These grants are aimed at businesses like convention centers and movie theaters.

3. $114.8 million in relief grants will be distributed to counties based on a per capita formula. Counties will then allocate that money to small businesses directly or indirectly impacted by the executive order. Counties will have wide latitude, but funding must be distributed by March 15.

All relief funds must be used to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses in the regular course of business. In addition, the legislation provided a 13-week extension of unemployment benefit payments to applicants that exhaust the balance of regular state benefits or federal benefits between December 19, 2020 and April 3, 2021. This bill is a start, but we know that the only long-term solution is for the Governor to allow businesses to open. They have shown that they can open safely, and it is past time for them to be allowed to do so.

Committee announcements 

Finally, I’m proud to announce that The Minnesota Senate Republicans have announced committee structures and Chairs for the upcoming session. I was given a Chairmanship position for the newly formed Senate Technology and Reform Committee. This committee will serve a vital role in the legislature through reviewing how Minnesota is using your tax dollars to fund state operations. Our objective will be to push all our state agencies to review how they deliver critical services to Minnesotans and how they can operate more effectively. Now more than ever, our state should be focused on improving the quality of services while cutting costs, and we should be able to attain this end without asking Minnesotans to give more of their duly earned income. 

In addition, I was assigned to the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee, and Aging and Long-Term Care Policy committee. Each of these committees are interrelated and will give my office the opportunity to serve the vast interests and needs Senate District 32 constituents have. Below is a link to a video in which I discuss my committee assignments in depth.

Senator Koran Committee Assignments

In Closing

Now that the 2021 legislative session is upon us, my office looks forward to serving your interests and needs while also supporting and furthering our shared values. If you ever need assistance, please reach out to us at 651-296-5419. 

All the best
Mark Koran