New Laws Effective July 1
The 2016 Supplemental Budget Bill included $35 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which funds the expansion of broadband access to unserved and underserved parts of the state. (H.F. 2749)
An additional $78 million in one-time spending is provided for Minnesota education programs as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. Some notable appropriations for 2017-2019 include:
- $80 million for a voluntary public pre-K grant program.
- $12.13 million for the Support Our Students program aimed at helping schools hire new support staff to address existing shortages.
- $1 million for full service community schools.
- $4.5 million for intermediate staff development aid to fund training for licensed staff and classroom support.
- $10 million to address the teacher shortage crisis across Minnesota.
Environment and Natural Resources
Electronic Waste Laws: An update to the state’s electronic waste recycling laws changes the calculation for a manufacturer’s obligation to recycle, changes screen size definitions to consider the increasing use of smaller screens, and imposes certification for recyclers. The changes are anticipated to significantly increase electronic waste recycling rates. (S.F. 1427)
Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund Appropriations: This year’s Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) appropriations include $38 million from the constitutionally dedicated Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, funded by proceeds from the Minnesota State Lottery. Projects in the bill are wide-ranging – from protecting pollinators, to addressing aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, to restoring various kinds of habitat, to educating about the natural world, to acquiring more parks and trails, and more. (S.F. 2963)
Legacy Outdoor Heritage Fund Appropriations: Keeping the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommendations largely intact, the legislature approved $109.8 million for appropriation in FY 2017 from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, to be spent on 40 projects. (S.F. 2963)
Health and Human Services
As part of the omnibus appropriations bill, the legislature incentivized health care and dental providers to move or expand services in rural Minnesota by increasing their reimbursement rates by as much as 35 percent. The law also provided a 5 percent payment rate increase for ambulance services in rural parts of the state.
Other notable appropriations include:
- $19.678 million to increase staffing at community behavioral health hospitals.
- $6.75 million for a new residential competency restoration program, which will make 20 hospital beds available at Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center and 12 secure beds available at the Minnesota Security Hospital.
- $800,000 to expand the American Indian Child Welfare Initiative
- $66,000 for emergency shelter, transitional, and long-term housing for sexually exploited youth through the Safe Harbor program.
- $33,000 for school-linked mental health grants.
The Office of Higher Education: The omnibus higher education appropriations bill includes $2 million for the state grant program to help low- and middle-income Minnesota students afford in-state postsecondary institutions. The bill also appropriates $500,000 for grants to help underrepresented students prepare and succeed in attaining a postsecondary degree.
University of Minnesota: The U of M will receive $800,000 for health training programs. The appropriation will be split between family medicine residency placements, the mobile dental clinic, and expanding the geriatric education and family programs.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities: MnSCU will receive $570,000 to support and protect affordability at its institutions. (H.F. 2749)
Jobs and Economic Development
Equity Funding: The legislature appropriated $35 million in 2017 to address Minnesota’s racial and economic disparities. The money will be used as grants to support a wide variety of services including community based business grants and incubator services, education initiatives, workforce development programs, and youth programs.
Exonoree Awards: In 2014 the legislature passed the Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act that enabled people who were wrongfully convicted of committing a crime to make a claim against the state for damages suffered. On July 1, the first three people who were exonerated will receive compensation for their time in prison and the portion of the life they lost because of their wrongful conviction. (S.F. 3328)
Community Justice Reinvestment: In May 2016 the legislature passed the first comprehensive drug sentencing reform package in decades. Beginning on July 1, the community justice reinvestment portions of that proposal will go into effect. Money the state saves as a result of the reformed sentencing model will be reinvested in local communities to prevent people from becoming addicted to drugs and entering the criminal justice system. (S.F. 3481)
James Metzen Mighty Ducks Ice Center Development Act: $10 million for Mighty Ducks Grants to refurbish and renovate ice hockey rinks and equipment across the state. The grants are needed to replace or renovate HVAC systems to improve air quality and purchase new ice resurfacers (Zambonis) for ice arenas. (H.F. 2749)
Veterans: The supplemental appropriations bill includes $95,000 to expand the Veterans Voices Program (S.F. 2599), which educations and engages the community with information on the contributions, knowledge, skills, and experiences of military veterans. Additional veterans-related provisions include:
- $150,000 for a veterans’ mental health facility. (S.F. 3217)
- $250.000 for a feasibility study on an interim housing facility for disabled veterans. (S.F. 3149)
- $200,000 for grants through the State Soldiers Assistance Program for housing and health assistance for veterans.
- $100,000 for a grant to the Eagle’s Healing Nest (Cottages of Anoka) for veterans’ housing.
Utilities and Railroad Right-of-Ways: A bill effective July 1 codifies an official process that utilities and railroad companies can follow when a utility needs to cross a railroad right-of-way. The bill creates standard processes, schedules, and fees, while laying out a dispute resolution process to be used when necessary. (S.F. 877)