Minnesota’s business leaders took to the Capitol on Wednesday, tapping traditional Republican support for a number of priorities that are currently moving through the Legislature.
Minnesota Business Day at the Capitol brought hundreds of members of local Chambers of Commerce and other groups together in front of lawmakers to advance the state coalition’s tax, education, insurance and permitting agenda.
“It does have a big impact when we can put a bunch of us in front of the Legislature in a short period of time,” Minnesota Chamber Board Chairman Jon Campbell, a Wells Fargo executive, told a crowd of about 500 in a St. Paul hotel. “I think this notion of coming together and having a big impact with business speaking really with a single voice … does make a difference.”
And so far, it appears their voice is being heard.
The Chamber’s economic priorities, outlined Wednesday in a session designed to turn regular members into effective lobbyists, have been the hallmarks of the Republican agenda for the past two years: teacher evaluation and tenure reform, a streamlined permitting process, tort reform and business property tax relief.
These proposals, such as “Last in, First Out,” which would strike a blow against teacher tenure, are frequently controversial. Gov. Mark Dayton is likely to veto LIFO after it comes out of conference committee, and he nixed the entire Republican tort reform package earlier this session.
Each week, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and House Speaker Kurt Zellers address reporters describing how these solutions are necessary for Minnesota’s economic recovery. Wednesday was a day for everyday entrepreneurs to flood the Capitol and bring that message to their individual lawmakers.
Each Business Day attendee received a booklet that outlined the Chamber’s priorities and provided talking points for members when they spoke to their representatives.
In a question-and-answer session before one group of attendees left for the Capitol, Chamber President David Olson and Senior Vice President for Advocacy Laura Bordelon coached a room of nearly 100 people about the issues most critical to businesses in the state.
Much in the House Republicans’ “Reform 2.0” agenda is a staple of the Chamber’s policy priorities. Senjem, who spoke to the friendly conference, was deeply supportive of the initiatives.
“As we have gone out to talk to business leaders, it is just like, ‘Get out of our way, let us work, let us do our job, stay out of our lives. We love government in some respects, but there are limits and there are lines, and know where those lines are, Zellers and Senjem, and just stay on the other side,’ ” he said. “And we need to do that.”