Legislative Victories from the 2011-2012 Session

Author: Tony Malandra Date: November 05, 2012

Won alignment of Minnesota’s estate tax exemption with the federal exemption
NFIB achieved a huge victory in the July 2011 special session, which ended the state government shutdown. We successfully pushed for legislation that conforms Minnesota’s estate tax exemption to the federal exemption for assets that are held in a small business or a farm. The Minnesota exemption was increased from $1 million per person to $5 million, conforming it to the federal exemption. It is important to note that only assets held in a small business or a farm apply—personal investments and cash do not.

The victory on the estate tax was a very pleasant surprise considering the volatility of the shut down and the very unpredictable nature of the negotiations. There was always hope we would achieve this victory since this critical exemption was in the first tax bill that passed the Legislature and was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Standing strong for small business was Sen. Julianne Ortman (Chanhassnen) and Rep. Greg Davids (Preston) who both chair the tax committee in each house of the Legislature. They pushed hard for this key provision and were thankful that Governor Dayton was willing to sign it. Due to this legislation, the vast majority of small-business owners and farmers will be able to pass on their business or farm to family members more easily and save tens of thousands of dollars in estate taxes or needless life insurance premiums purchased solely due to concerns about the estate tax.

The victory is a very gratifying one for NFIB. We organized the coalition on the estate tax years ago and helped develop this proposal. This critical law change took effect June 30, 2011.

Successfully lobbied against increasing taxes to fix the state budget deficit
Governor Dayton did not get his way on tax increases when the government shutdown in 2011. When the state budget deficit was finally resolved, there were no large income tax increases, even though there was some shifting and borrowing included.

It is being portrayed as a compromise that no one is happy with, but we can all be happy that three destructive income tax hike plans proposed by the governor were soundly rejected and other tax increases did not seem to be considered very seriously, such as expanding the sales tax. NFIB strongly opposed the various Dayton income tax hikes and testified several times in opposition.

Helped secure quicker decisions on environmental permits
For the second the year in a row, Governor Dayton did support legislation to expedite the permit approval process. The 2012 legislation clarifies that the time clock on the 150-day goal to make a decision on permit requests starts the day the company submits the permit application, not after it has gone back and forth between the business and the regulatory authority because it wasn’t completed property. The bill made other changes to try to further streamline the 2011 law.

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