February forecast, tax credit changes on deck for next week

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With the House in the “heart of committee time,” the most significant action taken by legislators this week was closing a loophole in laws governing community notification of sex offenders discharged from the state sex offender program, House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) said at the weekly Republican media availability.

Zellers was referring to the passage of HF2394*/ SF1994/CH123, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Lake Elmo) and Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen). Signed Feb. 23 by Gov. Mark Dayton, the law takes effect today.

Legislators declared urgency measures to swiftly pass the law because of the imminent court-ordered discharge of the state’s first sex offender discharged from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter. Clarence Opheim is due to be released to a halfway house after nearly 20 years in the treatment program. Previously, community notification was not required unless the person was being released from the halfway house.

“That was something that we thought was critically important, but also something that we could agree on bipartisan and work with our Senate colleagues as well … a good thing for public safety,” Zellers said.

Looking ahead to next week, Zellers said the House Taxes Committee intends to hear a bill that would modify the angel investment tax credit program established in 2010. Sponsored by Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina), HF1823 would establish a Minnesota Business Investment Company (MBIC) credit program and change the angel investment credit by:

  • increasing the annual limit on tax credits from $12 million to $20 million;
  • repealing the minimum wage requirements that apply to the businesses that receive the investments;
  • prohibiting businesses receiving creditable investment from making a public stock offering or selling the business within six months after the investment was made; and
  • allowing contact information on the businesses receiving the credit to be disclosed to the public.

Next week also should give legislators a better idea whether to assemble a supplemental budget bill when the February Economic Forecast is released by Minnesota Management and Budget. Zellers said he’s hopeful the budget will show a surplus.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) said he hopes DFL priorities such as paying back funds borrowed from the schools don’t get “lost in the shuffle.” Thissen also commented about this being the season of intensive legislative committee hearings, and wondered when seven key DFL bills that would help get people back to work would receive hearings.