Capitol Watch, March 1, 2010

03/01/2010 / Government Relations Group


Editor’s Corner
By Julie L. Perrus

March begins with better weather, although you probably won’t find many at the Capitol who have been able to enjoy it.  While no official legislative deadlines have been set, the legislature is operating on an unofficial first deadline of March 12.  This means that all policy bills must be through all necessary policy committees in either the House or the Senate or be considered “dead” for the session.

A Chicken in Every Pot… and Broadband Service for All
By Peter J. Coyle
Over the past several years, rural legislators have been working to draw attention to a growing disparity in the availability of telecommunications technology that many, if not most, urban consumers take for granted—reliable access to competitive wireless phone service and high-speed Internet connections.  Most readers likely assume availability of this technology which is becoming ubiquitous in our work life and personal life.  For rural communities and consumers, however, access to any form of high-speed Internet service is closer to a dream than reality—for them, dial-up service remains the norm which is very slow and not capable of supporting data-intensive service requirements.  A task force empanelled last year by the legislature has proposed far-reaching recommendations to change this reality for accessing high-speed broadband services; pending legislation would establish the goal that every Minnesota community have such access by no later than 2015.  Continue

Governor and Legislature at Impasse on Capital Spending Bill
By Peter J. Coyle
Facing an almost-certain veto, the leadership of the Minnesota House and Senate have elected to withhold submitting their approved proposal for capital bonding to pursue off-line negotiations over its provisions.  Valued at approximately $1 billion, the House-Senate package would fund transportation improvements, new buildings for colleges and universities around the state and a number of “regional” facilities, such as convention center projects in Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud.  Notably, although the House version of the legislation included $89 million for expanded facilities to treat sex offenders, a provision demanded by Governor Pawlenty, the final version recommended by the conference committee did not include such funding, essentially assuring a confrontation over the bill.  Continue

PACE Financing Will Provide Homeowners with New Options for Energy Efficiency
By Julie L. Perrus
Ever considered adding a geothermal heating system or some solar panels to your home?  Maybe you live in a home that is nearing the century mark with original windows and zero insulation in the walls.  Legislation introduced this year by Senator John Doll and Representative Jeremy Kalin would provide homeowners a new way to access financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

Angel Investor Tax Credit
By Michael W. Schley

Prior legislatures and last year’s session have considered “Angel Investor” tax credits.  These are intended to help spur investment in young businesses by granting the investors a bottom line tax credit.  They would also help keep the Minnesota environment for entrepreneurs competitive with other states, such as Wisconsin, that have similar credits.  The current proposals would focus the credits on businesses that use technical innovations, are engaged in research and development or technical activities, or are involved in specified environmental or similar activities.  The credits would be available for investment in companies meeting requirements such as type of business, location, size, and prior financing.  A flowchart showing the requirements as to qualification of the issuer and of the angel investor under one of those bills is here.

Similar proposals have not passed in recent sessions but, despite tough budget issues, the prospects this year appear brighter.  The Governor specifically urged an Angel Investor credit in his State of the State Address and committee hearings are ongoing regarding multiple pending bills.  As expected, the credit would be available only to certain types of investors and only if the nature of their funding meets certain tests.  There are also proposals to allow investments to be made through an “Angel Fund.”

Contact our Government Relations Attorneys:

Peter J. Coyle
Email 952-896-3214

 Peder A. Larson
Email 952-896-3257
Marnie S. Moore
Email 952-896-3377
Julie L. Perrus
Email 952-896-3308
Gerald L. Seck
Email 952-896-3205

This alert is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates. While the information provided in this publication is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.