St. Paul, MN. – The Minnesota House of Representatives advanced the energy and commerce budget bill on a vote of 70-64.
The Climate and Energy portion of the budget puts Minnesota on a path to achieve 100 percent clean energy in the electricity sector by 2040. It improves energy efficiency goals, strengthens the renewable energy preference, and updates state emissions targets to align with the latest scientific projections. The bill delivers critical funding to help reach these ambitious goals, including nearly $20 million to install solar energy systems on school buildings, state-owned buildings, and in state parks; $10 million to create a nonprofit Innovative Finance Authority to leverage private investment in clean energy; and $5.5 million to expand a solar manufacturing plant in Mountain Iron, which would make it the second largest in the nation. These investments will accelerate the transition to clean energy while helping Minnesotans save money on their electricity bills.
“This bill is about ensuring Minnesota is leading the transition to a clean energy economy,” said Rep. Jamie Long (DFL - Minneapolis), chair of the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee. “Seizing our opportunity to make a rapid and equitable transition to clean energy will create good-paying jobs and affordable energy and address the threat of climate change. We do this while making sure all Minnesotans - especially those most impacted by climate change - can access these benefits.”
The budget addresses numerous sources of greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce emissions from transportation, the largest source of Minnesota’s emissions, it invests nearly $20 million in electric vehicle rebates, establishes a clean fuels standard, and delivers funding for electric buses and school buses. To improve building efficiency, the bill establishes a net-zero standard for new commercial buildings, invests in home weatherization, and provides grants to help businesses damaged in last summer’s civil unrest rebuild using efficient and renewable energy sources.
“All Minnesotans deserve a clean energy future and a healthy climate,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Minnesota is one of the fastest warming states in the country, and we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The House DFL budget takes bold action on climate to grow our clean energy economy. Minnesota should be a leader in clean, renewable energy. The time to act is now.”
The budget takes steps to ensure the transition to clean energy is just and equitable and that people and communities who are disproportionately impacted by climate change can access jobs and other benefits created by this transition. Funding is included to build a Clean Energy Training Center in North Minneapolis. The bill also sets a prevailing wage for large clean energy projects and creates an Energy Transition Legacy Office.
The Commerce portion of the energy budget contains several strong consumer protection provisions for Minnesotans.
“Our budget bill takes important, proactive steps to protect Minnesota consumers from bad actors looking to take advantage of folks already enduring financial hardship during the ongoing pandemic,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), chair of the House Commerce Committee. “Minnesotans care about each other and we want to help each other pull through this difficult chapter. This means we must prioritize our people over profits so everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”
To address rising costs of prescription drugs, House DFLers address the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs by establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help drive down prices and increase accountability and transparency in how drugs are priced.
“This pandemic is making it harder than ever for families and workers to get ahead, while big corporations and the rich are doing better than ever,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “House Democrats are advancing policies that protect Minnesotans from price gouging, predatory lending, and those who use their power to profit from people who are suffering. Workers, families, and vulnerable Minnesotans deserve better than Republican politicians who seek to dismantle accountability for the rich and well-connected.”
The budget bill aims to halt the rising cases of catalytic converter theft by creating a statewide catalytic converter theft prevention pilot program, ensuring strict guardrails are in place that make it more difficult for bad actors to make a quick profit. This successful program is currently underway in the City of Saint Paul. In a bold effort to protect Minnesota’s most vulnerable, the Energy and Commerce budget caps predatory payday lending interest rates to 36%. It also provides important new protections for Minnesotans struggling with student debt.
The bill language is available here and the spreadsheet can be found here.