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Past NFIB/Minnesota Legislative Victories

Author: Tony Malandra Date: November 05, 2012

From the 2009-2010 Session

Defeated a bill to create a new 9-percent top income tax rate and capital gains rate
NFIB helped defeat a large income tax hike that would have raised Minnesota’s top individual income tax rate to 9 percent, which would be the fourth highest in the nation. Because Minnesota taxes capital gains at regular income tax rates, this would have given us the third highest top capital gains rate in the nation also and both would have been very damaging to the Minnesota economy. 

Passed legislation to expand health-care options for small business
NFIB led the coalition for passage of Senate File 2839, which significantly expanded the Small Employer Flexible Benefit Plan law to companies of 51 to 100 employees and to individuals who buy their own health insurance. The original law, passed in 2005, was only available for companies with two to 50 employees. Now, when the new law takes effect in January 2012, the expanded target group will also be able to purchase health insurance with new cost-saving options they currently don’t have access to. The inclusion of individuals was also a significant step, and, over time, this may be where the law offers the most choice for consumers.

Protected private property rights, by helping win stringent eminent domain reform
NFIB fought to protect small business property rights by helping pass one of the most stringent eminent domain reform laws in the country. NFIB also helped secure mandatory attorney’s fees (typically $10,000 to $50,000) for property owners in eminent domain cases where the property owner receives 40 percent or more than the condemning authority’s final offer.

Defeated nine new mandates that would have increased the healthcare premiums of small businesses and some individuals--large businesses exempted
NFIB helped defeat nine new mandated health insurance requirement during the 2009-2010 session. Had they passed, they would have increased health insurance premiums of small businesses and individuals. The autism mandate alone could have raised premiums by up to 21 percent per year – the largest increase allowed under law for business that have an autistic child on their health plan. Autism is typically treated for several years in a row, and affected businesses would likely have experienced these increases for multiple years. Some of these businesses that have an autistic child on their insurance plan would likely drop coverage.

From the 2007-2008 Session

Won expansion of companies and individuals allowed under the Small Employer Flexible Benefit Plan healthcare law
NFIB led the coalition for passage of Senate File 2839, which significantly expanded the Small Employer Flexible Benefit Plan law to companies of 51 to 100 employees and to individuals who buy their own health insurance. The original law, passed in 2005, was only available for companies with 2 to 50 employees. Now, when the new law takes effect in January 2012, the expanded target group will also be able to purchase health insurance with new cost-saving options they currently don’t have access to. The inclusion of individuals was also a significant step, and, over time, this may be where the law offers the most choice for consumers.

 

Defeated a bill to create a new 9-percent top income tax rate and helped defeat a 30-percent surtax on businesses
NFIB helped defeat a large income tax hike and an unworkable 30 percent surtax that would fall on businesses that earned more than 15 percent in interest per year on open accounts or loans. Businesses that are regulated by IRS regulation “Z” would be affected by the surtax. The new 9-percent income tax rate would have given Minnesota the fourth-highest top individual income tax rate in the nation. The unworkable surtax would have had all sorts of negative side-affects on the Minnesota economy.

Defeated nine new mandates that would have increased the healthcare premiums of small businesses and some individuals--large businesses exempted
NFIB helped defeat nine new mandated health insurance requirement during the 2009-2010 session. Had they passed, they would have increased health insurance premiums of small businesses and individuals. The autism mandate alone could have raised premiums by up to 21 percent per year – the largest increase allowed under law for business that have an autistic child on their health plan. Autism is typically treated for several years in a row, and affected businesses would likely have experienced these increases for multiple years. Some of these businesses that have an autistic child on their insurance plan would likely drop coverage.

Defeated legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage
NFIB helped defeat a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $7.75 per hour with automatic increases and to eliminate the training wage for teenagers. The automatic escalator provision would put Minnesota’s minimum wage law on auto pilot and the wage would increase each year along with changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Protected private property rights, by helping win stringent eminent domain reform
NFIB fought to protect small business property rights by helping pass one of the most stringent eminent domain reform laws in the country. NFIB also helped secure mandatory attorney’s fees (typically $10,000 to $50,000) for property owners in eminent domain cases where the property owner receives 40 percent or more than the condemning authority’s final offer.

Past Years

Protected small-business property rights by helping pass eminent domain restrictions
NFIB/Minnesota co-led a coalition that passed significant restrictions on the use of eminent domain, which will prevent local governments from removing small businesses from their property purely for economic development. Under the new law, properties can only be taken if it can be proven there is a significant amount of blight or contamination.

Helped secure attorney's fees (typically $10,000-50,000) in eminent domain cases where property owners receive substantially higher purchase prices than the condemning party's offer
NFIB co-led a coalition that enacted a mandatory attorney fee and court cost provision for any eminent domain victim who receives 40 percent or more than the condemning authority's final offer, which could save between $10,000 to $50,000 in a typical case. Additionally, a property owner can also request fees from the courts if they receive between 20 percent and 40 percent more than the condemning authority's final offer.

Enacted major joint and several liability reform
NFIB/Minnesota gave strong support to the grassroots effort to pass legislation that significantly revised our joint and several liability law, commonly known as "deep pocket rule." Under the revised law, a party now must be at least 51 percent at fault before they can be forced to pay for the whole award. Additionally, in Minnesota any defendant who is less at fault than the plaintiff cannot be sued.

Health Savings Accounts
Helped achieve state conformity to the federal tax code for health savings accounts, bringing additional savings to members who use the plans. In the 2005 session the state fully conformed to the federal HSA law and employer-paid premiums for HSAs are now fully deductible on state and federal taxes. Prior to the 2005 session, state tax deductibility was not allowed. This provision will increase the benefit and appeal of these new plans.

VICTORY: 2003 -- Major Tort Reform Passes, Revision of Joint and Several Liability
After many years of trying, the revision of the Joint and Several Liability law finally passed in Minnesota. This change will shield small business from big liability and potentially large damage awards that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Under the new law, only parties that are 51 percent at fault or more can be stuck paying all the damages if the other co-defendants are insolvent. Under the old law, a party who was as a little as 16 percent at fault could be forced to pay all the damages, which could cause great financial strain or even bankruptcy for a small business.
Additionally, a positive feature of the old law was retained in the new statute, which deals with aggregation of fault. Under Minnesota law, any defendant who is less at fault than the plaintiff is not eligible to be sued. This is a unique provision that exists in only three other states and is an additional benefit to defendants who have very little fault. When you consider our new 51 percent threshold and our aggregation of fault provision, Minnesota law provides significant protections for parties from being sued for large amounts of damages.
NFIB/Minnesota was tireless advocate for tort reform. We have advocated reform on this law for close to 15 years and actively lobbied the legislature and sent out numerous alerts to our members.

VICTORY: In the 2001 session a major property tax reform/reduction strongly supported by NFIB/Minnesota was signed into law, reducing and simplifying Minnesota's convoluted property tax system. Business property's share of total property taxes paid has been reduced from 30 percent to approximately 24.5 percent.

VICTORY: In 1999 the largest tax cut in state history, strongly supported by NFIB passed. The measure will cut income taxes a record $1.4 billion dollars. The top rate of 8.5 percent was reduced to 8 percent, the middle rate of 8 percent was reduced to 7.25 percent and the bottom rate of 6 percent was reduced to 5.5 percent. The average reduction was 9 percent, and a family of four earning $50,000 received a 17.8 percent reduction.
In the 2000 session another large tax rebate of $635 million was enacted. Additionally, income taxes were reduced slightly and the average reduction was 2.8 percent.

VICTORY: Last session the Equal Access to Justice law was expanded to cover more small businesses and a greater amount of their court costs. The new law increases reimbursable attorney's fees to $125 per hour and expands other reimbursable costs to include costs of studies, analysis, engineering reports, tests and projects, none of which were previously covered. Additionally, the definition of small business was expanded to include companies as large as 500 employees and $7 million in annual revenues. A prevailing small business would have to meet both criteria.
 

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