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May 4, 2016

With less than three weeks to go, the Minnesota Legislature has many unresolved issues. The DFL-controlled Senate and GOP-controlled House are miles apart on what to do with the state's $900 million budget surplus, the infrastructure projects they should invest in, and numerous policy provisions. So far, no discussions have occurred to move the sides closer together. Capitol insiders are divided on whether 2016 will be a "do-nothing session" when the gavel drops on May 23.


Inside this Edition:
 

House Passes Export Bill

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives unanimously passed MADA's top legislative priority, H.F. 2954, on a vote of 128-0.  The bill, authored by Representative Jen Loon (R-Eden Prairie), prohibits carmakers from taking adverse actions against dealers who sell a new vehicle to a customer that resells it for export.  Discussion was minimal with both Republicans and Democrats speaking in support of the legislation.

The Senate is expected to act on the bill next week.

When to Implement Real ID Debated

Earlier this session, the Legislature passed a bill removing the prohibition against Minnesota's Department of Public Safety (DPS) from planning for the implementation of Real ID, needed to make Minnesota driver's licenses comply with security requirements for access to federal buildings and domestic airline travel.  With the prohibition lifted, DPS has made recommendations to legislators on the steps and costs to make Minnesota IDs compliant. 

The Senate has drafted a bill that largely reflects the agency's suggestions.  They are proposing that Minnesota driver's licenses meet the requirements of Real ID by January 1, 2018, adhering to the federal timeline and allowing DPS to incorporate the requirements into its conversion to MNLARS, which is scheduled to come online for driver's licenses in 2018.

The House, on the other hand, is pushing for an implementation date of October 1, 2016.  According to DPS, this aggressive schedule will require them to make programming changes to both MNLARS and the agency's soon-to-be-obsolete legacy database, costing upwards of $6 million.  Additionally, the compressed timeframe will require them to pull staff off of MNLARS development in the short-term, delaying release of the titling, registration, and dealer functions of MNLARS by at least six months.


Speaking of MNLARS
The previous MADA Legislative Bulletin reported that DPS was seeking an extension of the $1 techonology surcharge for three years to support decommissioning of its legacy database.  The Senate has chosen to honor the agency's funding request in its supplemental budget bill;  the House did not.  In fact, the House did not put forward any supplemental budget provisions for transportation.

Revisiting Issues from 2015

As lawmakers put together their supplemental budget bills, consideration has been given to a couple of provisions that MADA supported during the 2015 Session that have not yet been enacted:

"Getting to Work" Program
Last year, the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition, a coalition of social service providers, came forward with the “Getting to Work” bill, which appropriated $4.5 million to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to distribute through a competitive grant process to fifteen nonprofit organizations that provide vehicles, vehicle repair, or vehicle loans to eligible workers and job seekers. The goal of the program is to help low-income Minnesotans have access to a reliable automobile to help them maintain employment.

This year, the Senate has included a scaled-back version in its omnibus supplemental budget bill, which allocates $300,000 to seed the "Getting to Work" program. MADA supports this initiative, as it reinforces that automobiles are a critical component for individuals seeking to better their lives and stay employed.

Electric Vehicle Incentives

Senator John Marty (DFL-St. Paul) and Representative Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) are both attempting to promote the sale of electric vehicles, but their diverging strategies to do so have prevented any forward progress.  Last session, the House passed an electric vehicle rebate as part of House File 843, its Omnibus Jobs and Energy Bill, which was never enacted.  Representative Garofalo has been hoping to revive a conference committee on H.F. 843 in order to bring back the rebates, but a number of other controversial provisions in the bill have prevented the Senate from conceding to Garofalo's plan.

Knowing of the opposition in the Senate to re-opening the conference committee, Senator Marty attempted to move a new electric vehicle bill in 2016, Senate File 2405.  However, opposition to the rebate provision from his colleagues on the Senate Environment Committee caused Senator Marty to scale the bill back to only allow for Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power to plan their own electrical vehicle promotions. The bill awaits a vote on the Senate floor, but no action has been taken on the House companion.

Look to future editions of the MADA Legislative Bulletin for updates from the Capitol.  In the meantime, if you have questions about legislative activity, don't hesitate to contact MADA Director Government Affairs Amber Backhaus at amber@mada.org.
Copyright © 2016 Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, All rights reserved.


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