Capitol Watch Session Preview

02/02/2010 / Government Relations Group


Editor’s Corner
by Julie L. Perrus

Welcome to this edition of Capitol Watch.  The 2010 legislative session officially kicks off on February 4, but for most of us who spend time at the capitol, it feels like we are already underway.  The House and Senate, both under DFL control, are planning to pass a bonding bill with projects totaling close to a billion dollars in the first week or so of the legislative session.  Hearings on the proposals have happened over the past several weeks.  Whether Governor Pawlenty, who presented his own $685 million dollar bonding package in mid-January, will sign the legislature’s bonding package is unclear.  Continue

Environmental Update
by Peder A. Larson

The 2010 legislative session will include significant discussion of environmental issues.  Passing significant legislation, however, looks unlikely.  Legislation to limit mining of nonferrous minerals (like copper and nickel) or impose strict requirements on the nonferrous mining companies will dominate the environmental discussion.  Bipartisan support exists for new mining in northern Minnesota and also exists for efforts to impose strict “financial assurance” requirements to ensure that the mines set aside sufficient money to fund long term care obligations once mining ceases.  Continue

U.S. Supreme Court Opens Door to Corporate, Trade Association and Union Involvement in Political Campaigns
by Peter J. Coyle

In the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations, trade associations and unions are on equal footing with individuals when it comes to advocating for or against federal candidates for election.  Previously, spending for contested elections was restricted to regulated political committees, though spending on non-partisan issue campaigns was allowed for corporations and other groups.  The Supreme Court ruling does not invalidate the ban on direct contributions to candidates themselves by business and union organizations.  Nor can such spending be coordinated with a candidate but instead must be pursued independently.  The effect of the Court’s ruling on Minnesota’s state election process is unknown, but many Minnesota-based organizations already are gearing up for the upcoming November elections.  Continue 

Home Warranty Task Force Recommends Fix
by Peter J. Coyle

Amidst the wreckage of last year’s end-of-session skirmishing over budget-balancing legislation, multiple bills dealing with Minnesota’s residential construction industry were approved by the DFL-controlled legislature, but then vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Of the six bills under consideration, only one relating to warranty disclosures was signed by the governor; the rest were deemed unnecessary, burdensome or counterproductive.  The residential construction industry resisted the legislation during the legislative hearing process, but in the end, it took the governor’s veto pen to fend off an avalanche of new legislation which would have exposed the housing industry to more litigation and significantly higher costs, including attorneys fees in some cases.  Continue

Contact Our 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.