Allied Charities of Minnesota

Legislative Session review

24 May 2018 08:52 | Rachel Jenner (Administrator)

The 2018 Legislative session in review:

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.  I just watch what they do.  Andrew Carnegie.

The 2018 legislative session is now over.  There were several bills passed in the last days that are now on the governor’s desk.  He has fourteen days to either sign or veto them.  Charitable gaming is not included in any of these bills. 

This year charitable gaming had nine bills in play; 3 tax relief related and 6 policy related.  Not one made it to the governor for his signature.  The house and the senate both have republican majorities.  Watch what they do.

The legislature provided more than one billion dollars of tax relief in the 2017/2018 biennium without one dollar going to charitable gaming.  Not even our sales tax relief of $2 million dollars made it to the governor’s desk.  Governor Dayton did not indicate that he had an issue with sales tax relief for us.  How do I know that?  Because the fiscal note on sales tax relief was realistic.  When a sitting governor (no matter which political party) has no issue with or supports a proposal, the fiscal note is realistic or even low balled.  When the governor does not support the proposal, the fiscal note comes back highly inflated.  That is what happened with the fiscal note on our donations being exempt (HF226/SF419), our fiscal note was double what the real cost would have been.  Watch what they do.

I thank the house, specifically Chair Knoblach for authoring and Chair Davids for putting the sales tax relief in the house omnibus tax bill.  Thanks to Chair Dettmer for all of his support in the house.  You need to ask your senator the reason that they did not put relief for us in their omnibus bill.  What (or who) is the hold up?

Even the task force bill to study our tax structure went nowhere.  Those that do not want change for us could ill afford a study saying that we are being taken advantage of.  Watch what they do.

This was a frustrating session in the sense that we could not get traction on our bills.  Getting authors was difficult and getting hearings was even more so.  I tried repeatedly to find out what was going on and was met with silence.  Eventually I pieced together the story that the republican majority was not pleased with our rabble rousing for tax relief as they believed that we were blaming them for not getting relief.  I was told by the republican majority that the governor was the one stopping relief for us.  I found that hard to believe.  I do believe that the governor would have liked nothing better than to veto one of our bills, but the republican majority never gave him that chance.  It would have been political genius to send the governor a bill (as in HF226/SF419) with tax relief for us knowing that he would veto it.  Think of the hay that the republicans could have made with that this upcoming election cycle.    

The message was that the limited action on our bills and none getting to the governor’s desk was our reward for biting the hand that feeds us.  The inference was that if we would have just kept quiet we would have gotten relief.  If you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I would sell you at a reasonable price.  This behavior is what happens on elementary school playgrounds, it has no place at the legislature.  It is my job to advocate for you and I will do that as long as I possibly can.  I have very few friends among the politicians at the Capitol.  I count you all as my friends, folks that work their tails off for three cents on the dollar to make their communities a better place to live. 

There were three positives that did come out of the 2018 session:

  • 1.       We stopped the Daily Fantasy Sports bill.  Giving the keys to the state to for profit companies based outside of Minnesota did not pass. 
  • 2.       For five years we were told that there could be no relief for us as the stadium bill was locked up tighter than Fort Knox.  We now know that was a big fat whopper. 
  • 3.       We now know that the stadium reserve fund is cash rich and legislators are not afraid to spend it, just not on us to date.    

We made a difference.   We stood up for ourselves.  We did the right thing for our missions and our communities.   While it did not yield tax relief we made progress. 

From a few days after the 2018 legislative session concludes until the day before the 2019 session begins next January there will be hundreds of fund raising events for legislators and their respective parties.  The price to play in this arena is hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars per event.  Lobbyists, PACs and for profit companies will contribute millions of dollars in anticipation of favorable outcomes in future legislative sessions.  ACM will not be at any of these events as it is against the law for us to give money to legislators.  Even if it were legal, we could never compete with for profit companies.  I have never seen a study (and probably never will) that cross references donations with favorable legislative action (either policy, bonding or tax relief), but that would be an interesting piece.

Our greatest strength is also our Achilles’ heel.  We persevere no matter what the odds.  We will cinch our belts a little tighter and lean a little more into the wind.  We will not give in, we will not give up.   Government knows this and uses it against us.  Watch what they do.

A politician’s Achilles’ heel is that once elected they soon come to believe that they are untouchable.  They take to heart what the lobbyists tell them about how smart and above average they are.  Accompany that with money and more money and most of us would also succumb.  Those that inhabit 44.952 degrees north/93.1022 degrees west come to see themselves as something quite special.  Our legislators are not royalty, they are not more important than you or I.  They are there to represent their constituency.  They do not need to agree with everything that you think needs to be done, but they need to be able to articulate a cogent argument as to why not when they don’t. 

I am coming to believe that we are seen by our government as a competitor.  No other explanation for our poor treatment by government makes any sense.  Our legislators stand idly by as our seventy three year old state wide safety net dissolves in front of their very eyes.  Why would legislators keep taking more money from us than is needed when our only reason for existing is to help the less fortunate?  Legislators can tell us all they want that they care about what we do, but giving us no relief for our confiscatory tax burden is the true indication of what they really think of us.  Watch what they do.

We were used in 2012 to get a stadium built.  Our message to government is that the stadium is built, you got what you wanted.  The stadium reserve fund balance shows that it is now time to lighten up on the charities.  Not doing so makes you appear to be mean and spiteful.  Not a legacy to strive for. 

Closed circuit to LBV of BWI.  Time to tell you know who to lighten up.  Cannot believe that this is what you want.  Call me when you are not busy.    

This summer we will work on legislative initiatives for the 2019 session.  I believe that having our donations exempt and changing the combined receipt brackets to 6/12/18/24% are two things that are worthy of our consideration and long overdue.  I hope that you agree.

I would never tell you who to vote for, but you will have the opportunity this November 6 to decide who represents you.  I urge you to exercise that right.

Fate whispers to the warrior “you cannot withstand the storm”.  The warrior whispers back “I am the storm”.  Author unknown.

Be the storm.

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