At The Table – 2020 Legislative Year In Review

December 22  

Key 2020 Takeaways  

  • Despite the truly historic disruptions that shaped the 2020 legislative session, the Medical Alley Association (MAA) worked diligently to connect the skills and expertise of our health technology and care industry with Minnesota’s policy makers.  
  • Throughout the health and economic crisis, Medical Alley has continued to advocate for policies that support businesses. We have also helped legislators understand deficiencies in policies that would have hindered Minnesota’s competitiveness during the pandemic.  
  • Medical Alley ensured passage of all three capital investment priorities. 

For more highlights and takeaways from the past year, check out our 2020 State Legislative Wrap Up.

2020 Highlights 

Medical Alley’s Response to COVID-19  

From the onset of the pandemic, our Medical Alley Association (MAA) team has worked tirelessly to draw on the expertise of our members, providing connections that make a difference, and taking fast and decisive action to assist the medical community.  

We provided input on key issues, including efforts to have biotech research and development operations deemed “essential” under the stay-at-home orders this spring, so they could continue their critical research and clinical trials. We also ensured that manufacturing companies essential to producing equipment in the fight against COVID-19 had the necessary PPE to keep workers protected. 

Throughout the 2020 State Regular Legislative session, the MAA advocated for tax items that would aid innovation during the pandemic. We testified before the House and Senate Taxes committees in favor of provisions that would support businesses. This included funding the Angel Tax Credit Program, making the first tier of R&D tax credit refundable, fully confirming to federal equipment expensing, and delaying tax payments for individuals and businesses. Our team also helped legislators understand the deficiencies in several other policies that would have hindered our business environment and the state’s competitiveness amidst the pandemic.  

One of the less visible effects of the pandemic was serious supply chain disruption. We were able to respond quickly to needs identified by Governor Walz’s office by establishing the Medical Alley Supply Chain Group, a collective composed of experts from our membership that helped the state procure necessary supplies.  

The pandemic affected nearly every aspect of life and work for Minnesotans and MAA was consistently communicating with policymakers on how members were addressing these challenges. From calls with Governor Walz to roundtables on genetic medicines with numerous legislators, we worked tirelessly to connect policymakers with the world’s most innovative healthcare community and put forward solutions to not only address COVID-19, but also the myriad of other healthcare issues facing the world today.  

By collaborating with members and nonmembers alike, Medical Alley was able to source talent from different industries and regions across the state to solve problems presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our response to these challenging times has solidified our state as the Global Epicenter of Health Innovation and Care™.  

Read our COVID Report to learn more about the incredible collaboration within the Medical Alley community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capital Investment Projects 

Throughout the 2020 regular session, Medical Alley advocated for capital investment projects that would help Minnesota remain competitive with peer states long term. 

In addition to the Clinical Research Facility at the University of Minnesota, Medical Alley supported the runway improvements at Rochester International Airport and the Highway 610 Corridor Project. 

Rochester International Airport is a key local asset with a global impact, providing fast and safe transportation for patients seeking care from all over the world and for key components for Mayo Clinic’s world-class researchers. Similarly, we advocated for the Highway 610 Corridor Project, since the health technology and care industries have a strong presence along this corridor and these firms rely on high-quality supply chain networks to transport their life-saving products.  

Legislators negotiated the bill for over a year. Throughout all these negotiations, we reminded them of the importance of these three projects for the health technology and care industries. We tirelessly advocated for the inclusion of these projects, highlighting the importance for our supply chain and future innovation, and ensured they were included in the final passage. 

Facts to Know About 2020 Bonding Bill  

In October of 2020, the Minnesota Legislature passed a $1.87 billion public infrastructure bill that included tax and spending provisions. The large spending bill passed both bodies with broad bipartisan support. Please see below for specific information on provisions in the bill. 

  • 2020 bonding bill had $1.87 billion price tag 
    • Of that, $1.36 billion went specifically to general obligation (GO) bonds 
    • $300 million went to trunk highway bonds 
    • $100 million for housing infrastructure bonds (HIBs) 
  • Tax provisions included in 2020 bonding bill 
    • Full section 179 conformity, this measure will greatly benefit farmers and small business 
  • New General Fund spending for fiscal year 2021 
    • Some of the larger spending items included in the bill were support for the Department of Human Services’ direct care and treatment services ($16.03 million) and support for the Department of Corrections for staffing costs ($7.5 million) 

MAA was pleased with the inclusion of the U of M Clinical Research Facility design financing, Rochester Airport development, and Highway 610 improvements in the final bonding bill. These were important projects that Medical Alley Association consistently supported and helped bring across the finish line. 

2021 Legislative Priorities and Landscape Forecasting 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Minnesota legislature pivoted from meeting in-person to almost fully virtual during the 2020 legislative session. The Minnesota House majority caucus announced their intention to have another virtual session in 2021.  

We are watching what the Minnesota Senate majority plans to do in this regard, but we expect that the Senate will be at least partially virtual as well. This poses both challenges and opportunities for MAA. We look forward to connecting with legislators in this virtual space and elevating our members’ contributions to the fight against COVID-19. 

2021 is a budget year for the Minnesota legislature. This means that the legislature must pass a balanced two-year budget this upcoming session. There is currently a modest budget surplus available to the legislature to address COVID, fund government, and pass other legislation. In the end of February, Minnesota’s budget agency (Minnesota Management and Budget) will release another economic forecast. At that point it will become clear what financial position Minnesota is in at this stage in the pandemic. 

Due to the virtual nature of session and the pressure of passing a two-year state budget, we anticipate fewer bills and legislative priorities from legislators and the Walz administration. Additionally, we expect COVID-19 and the state’s continued response to rise to the top of the agenda for the House, Senate, and Governor. The fight against COVID continues and the state has been consistently responding to needs of individuals and industries. 

Policy items to watch in 2021: 

  • Legislative responses to COVID-19 
  • Additional telehealth policy changes, improvements 
  • Changes, improvements to the opioid legislation passed in 2019 
  • Addressing needs within the childcare industry 
  • A legislative response to COVID-19 infections in long-term care facilities 

Check out our Telehealth Policy Framework.

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