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From an Idea to Law: The MSBA Legislative Process

by Sherri Knuth

iStock_000025672666_SmallThis week the 2016 Minnesota Legislative session gets underway. Legislators and visitors will navigate a Capitol filled with sawdust and machinery as a multi-year restoration project continues.

As usual, the MSBA will be at the Capitol pursuing legislative changes. The changes the association seeks are the result of a process that begins with MSBA sections and committees.

Members of MSBA sections and committees see how laws operate in the real world and sometimes see that changes are needed. After discussing and reaching a consensus internally, a section or committee may bring a proposal to the Legislative Committee for adoption as position in the name of the MSBA. The committee or section is asked to vet the proposal within the MSBA and externally before bringing it forward, meeting the requirements described in the Legislative Proposal Form (available on the Legislative Committee webpage). 

Proposals are typically due in October of each year. The Legislative Committee meets in December to hear each proposal and make recommendations to the MSBA Assembly as to whether the proposal should be adopted as an MSBA position. The Assembly decides at its December meeting whether it will adopt each recommended position.  A position is adopted for a period of six years, at which time a committee or section may seek renewal if needed.

The number of proposals typically exceeds the lobbying capacity of the association. In addition, immediate action may not be necessary on some proposals. The Legislative Committee therefore makes recommendations to the MSBA Council regarding lobbying priorities for each legislative session, and the Council establishes priorities before the session begins.

This year, the MSBA’s priorities are:

  1. An amendment to Minn. Stat. §290.01 subd. 7 to prevent the Department of Revenue from the using the location of an individual’s attorneys, CPAs, or financial advisors as a factor in determining residency, pursuant to a position approved by the Assembly in 2014. (This is a continuing priority from last session, contained in a tax bill expected to move forward in the 2016 session.)
  2. Amendments to Minn. Stat. §524.2-301 to clarify inheritance rights between spouses who have been unintentionally omitted from an estate plan, pursuant to a position approved by the Assembly in 2012.
  3. Amendments to Minn. Stat. §576, §577, and §559 to make technical corrections clarifying receiverships and assignments for the benefit of creditors, pursuant to a position approved by the Assembly in 2013.
  4. Statutory changes to Minnesota’s parenting expense adjustment for child support calculation in order to reduce or eliminate drastic changes in child support awards based upon small differences in parenting time schedules, pursuant to a position approved by the Assembly in 2015.

Watch for updates on these positions in the Capitol Connection, delivered to members in-boxes weekly during the legislative session.

Next article:  What is a Section-only Position?