92nd Minnesota Legislature, Olmsted County legislative priorities
Each year, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners approves a set of priorities for advocacy during the state legislative session. If you’d like more information about any of these priorities, please contact Jennifer Berquam.
The 92nd Minnesota Legislature convened on January 5, 2021 and adjourned on May 17, 2021. A special session took place June 14-30. For up-to-date information, please visit the Minnesota Legislature website.
2021 State Legislative Priorities
Resource recovery facilities: Oppose legislation that limits, prohibits, or interferes with a county’s ability to perform its solid waste management responsibilities as required by Minnesota Statutes Chapters 400 and 473. This includes ensuring the viability of resource recovery facilities, which support the state’s solid waste management hierarchy and help provide an effective, efficient, and environmentally focused waste management system for all residents.
Outcome: No legislation passed that would negatively impact the viability of resource recovery facilities.
Health and Human Services (HHS) financing and service delivery: County and state human services programs help meet essential needs of Minnesota residents. Olmsted County urges the legislature to support the following when making HHS budget and policy decisions during session:
- HHS COVID-19 waivers: Policy flexibility may yield positive results, rather than rely on a uniform approach. We have learned through COVID-19 waivers that implementing new practices and relaxing others can improve financial and service delivery outcomes, such as telehealth services.
- Short and long-term COVID-19 response needs: Ongoing local public COVID-19 response requires resources to support activities such as vaccine distribution and continued community outreach. Continued need for county human services programs, such as mental and behavioral health, housing stability, and economic assistance is also expected.
- DHS restructuring: The state must fulfill its foundational, regulatory requirements of an accurate and accountable service delivery system that supports the state and counties as reliable and efficient service providers, funders, developers, and collaborators. A long-range, transformational approach is needed to redesign how the DHS and system partners deliver vital services.
- Modernized technology systems: It is imperative the state modernize the HHS technology environment to support the goals of a person-centered, integrated health and human services delivery system. Equitable access to health and human services through telepresence is a key component of modernized technology systems.
- Racial equities and disparities: All HHS programs should recognize the need for reducing disparities and achieving equity.
Outcome: Legislation passed (1st Special Session, Chapter 7) to enhance health and human services financing and service delivery – specifically codifying four COVID-19 waivers that have proven to enhance service delivery and providing resources to recover from the public health emergency (public health, mental and behavioral health, housing stability, and economic supports).
Broadband investment: Increase investments in broadband statewide, such as through the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program, to address disparities and ensure residents in unserved and underserved areas have access to technology needed for remote participation in domains such as work, schooling, and health care.
Outcome: $70 million investment for broadband over the biennium (1st Special Session, Chapter 10).
Increase affordable housing stock: Support the increase of affordable housing to those at all income levels by investing in both preservation and increasing the supply of new housing. A recent Maxfield housing study revealed the largest housing gap in Olmsted County is for active seniors.
Outcome: Support for programs to increase the affordable housing stock – specifically $100 million in housing infrastructure bonds and $9.9 million for a state housing tax credit (1st Special Session, Chapters 8 and 14).
Transportation funding: Enact a comprehensive transportation funding package that increases constitutionally dedicated sources of revenue for roads, bridges, transit, and active transportation.
Outcome: No new constitutionally dedicated revenues for transportation passed, but the legislature did provide one-time funding for programs important to counties - $14 million for the local bridge program, $5.5 million for the local road improvement program, $5 million/biennium increase for county state aid highways, and $100 million for corridors of commerce in FY2024 and $100 million in FY2025 (1st Special Session, Chapter 5).
County program aid: Maintain county program aid (CPA) at current law levels and, following economic recovery, index the annual appropriation for inflation.
Outcome: No action took place this session to reduce county program aid.
Property tax levy decisions: Ensure local control for counties in property tax levy decisions by not imposing levy limits, property tax freezes, or reverse referendums on proposed property tax increases.
Outcome: The legislature did not impose levy limits or other mandates related to local property taxes.
Tax forfeiture properties clean-up: Support legislation to address the expenses counties incur for the clean-up and maintenance of blighted or environmentally contaminated tax forfeiture properties.
Outcome: Legislation to help counties address costs associated with the cleanup of tax forfeiture properties had success in the Senate, but ultimately did not pass.
Compensation limits: Remove the total compensation limits for positions in local government (MS 43A.17, Subd. 9) to enable local elected officials to govern effectively and carefully manage tax dollars.
Outcome: The House supported a repeal of the local government compensation limit statute, but it was not included in the final legislation and did not pass.
Outcomes of Other Key County Issues
- Passed a technical correction to the CSAH 44/TH 14 interchange 2020 bonding appropriation.
- Child care assistance basic sliding fee (BSF) waitlist was reprioritized through May 2024 and the provision also included a permanent formula change and additional appropriation for BSF.
- The legislature established a new program to help local governments ensure no child is homeless by keeping families from losing housing and helping those experiencing homelessness find housing. $20 million annually will be appropriated to counties from CY2023-CY2028. Olmsted County is estimated to receive nearly $600,000 annually.
- Counties will be held harmless for the Department of Human Services billing error related to Institutions of Mental Disease (Olmsted share is about $350,000).
- Community Corrections Act counties will receive a one-time $2.44 million increase for the biennium. A working group was established to determine recommendations for core supervision practices and new methods for funding the probation system.
- Counties will receive an additional $700,000 annually for SCORE block grants to enhance local recycling programs.