News outlets talked of the unraveling of compromise at the end of the Minnesota Legislative Session. A Republican Senate, a DFL House and a DFL administration couldn’t agree on overall state spending.
Somehow in a one day special session, though, lawmakers were able to put controversy behind them and pass a budget to fund the State of Minnesota for the next two years.
The regular session ended on May 20 as required by law, and since it was an odd year a budget was needed.
That budget was passed at the special 21-hour marathon session ending at 7 a.m. on May 25. Gov. Tim Walz was expected to sign the $48.3 billion budget that will operate the state beginning on July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.
Agriculture had several victories as legislators saw how difficult farming has been in the last few years.
Items passed related to farming included:
- Repeal of the sunset on the provider tax, although lowered to 1.8 percent instead of 2 percent. The provider tax helps fund MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance, the Office of Rural Health and other programs in the health care safety net.
- A $100,000 one time increase for the Farm and Rural Helpline, as well as $274,000 over two years to hire another mental health farm counselor.
- $5 million to invest in a Soy Innovation Campus at the University of Minnesota Crookston to help develop a soybean crush and biodiesel facility in northwest Minnesota. Funding will go into effect in the second half of the budget in July 2020.
- $5 million in the ag budget for dairy relief and $3 million in the jobs bill paid to farmers ($19-$23 cow) for Dairy Margin Coverage rebates.
- $40 million to develop broadband.
- The Ag2School program provides a phased-in 30 percent increase in the school building bond ag credit. When phase-in is complete in 2023, and a capital school construction bond levy is passed, owners of ag lands will be reimbursed for 70 percent of that levy.
- Section 179 equipment expensing was revised to meet full conformity.
- The homestead fix provides ag homestead tax credit when families structure their farm as a dual entity with one party owning the land and another party owning the farm business generally to transition to new ownership.
- Passage of the ag policy bill with requests from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture along with a five year extension of the Organic Advisory Taskforce, greater eligibility for beginning farmer loans, food safety provisions and more.
Some information was provided by Minnesota Farmers Union Legislative Updates.