Committee: Legislative Committee

Contact: BJ Jungmann, Chair –  [email protected]

2022 Mission: The mission of the Legislative Committee is to provide focus, representation and visibility for the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association in legislative activities by advocating, supporting, sponsoring, opposing and actively participating in the legislative process involving those issues, areas or proposals as directed by the President of the Association.

2022 Report:  The Minnesota Legislature concluded the 2022 legislative session on May 23 after failing to pass a number of supplemental budget bills, a tax bill, and a bonding bill. In odd years – the first year of the biennium – the legislature is required to pass budget bills no later than June 30 to prevent a government shutdown. For instance, the budget passed by the legislature in 2021 took effect July 1, 2021 and runs through June 30, 2023. In even years, there is no requirement to pass a budget, thus no requirements or urgency to pass a thing. Traditionally, even years are designated for bonding bills, supplemental budgets, and policy bills, but in a divided legislature, it is no easy lift and the biennium may end with nothing to show for it.

Once again, we worked in partnership with our lobbying firm, Lockridge Grindal Nauen (LGN). Their team of 10 lobbyists continue to advocate on our behalf at the Capitol and within agencies in an extremely effective and bipartisan way.

The Minnesota Fire Association Coalition (MNFAC), an alliance with Minnesota State Fire Department Association (MSFDA), Minnesota Fire Marshals Association (FMAM) and the Minnesota Chapter of the International Arson Investigators Association (IAAI), remains united on a legislative agenda and represents the Minnesota Fire Service exceptionally well at the capitol. MNFAC representatives meet bi-weekly throughout the legislative session to address any issues and discuss legislative strategy. It is also worth noting that while we do not represent the Minnesota Professional Firefighters, we do work closely on several legislative issues and Fire Service Day at the Capitol.

Significant progress was made on MNFAC’s top legislative priorities this year, and LGN secured their placement in House and Senate omnibus bills. We continued to strengthen our relationships with the Governor’s Office and the legislature as well as key staff members and agency heads. We were disappointed that the legislature and governor ultimately failed to reach an agreement and the large omnibus bills did not pass. Nevertheless, our legislative agenda was still advanced.

In the area of pensions, we maintained strong relationships with members of the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement. Those relationships were critical in ensuring our interests were represented in the pension omnibus bill passed by the legislature. Notably, a large pension issue emerged earlier this winter and we worked adeptly to respond. A well-meaning legislator sought to change how volunteer fire reliefs interact with the State Board of Investment (SBI). Together, we facilitated an extremely well-attended virtual town hall meeting to discuss the proposal. We appreciate this legislator’s willingness to listen and collaborate with us to alter his approach. We also extend our thanks to those in the fire service who participated in this effort and helped us to successfully defeat the proposal.

Outside of the legislative session, we continue to monitor pension-focused working groups including the ongoing State Auditor’s Volunteer Firefighter Relief Association Working Group and the Supplemental State Aid Work Group that was created by the 2021 pension omnibus bill.

We worked with the Department of Revenue and the legislature to update fire department definitions. We successfully secured inclusion of this language in the House and Senate tax proposals but since the final tax agreement did not receive a vote before the legislative deadline, our work will continue on this issue next year.

Lobbyists at Messerli Kramer worked with MNFAC to lay the groundwork to develop legislation in 2023 to increase local control over Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In February, the Office of the Legislative Auditor released a report on Emergency Ambulance Services. The report found issues with both the management of the EMSRB and the ambulance service license process. During the legislative session, the OLA Audit Commission and the House and Senate HHS Committees with jurisdiction over the EMSRB held hearings on the report. Several committee members expressed deep concern with the findings and expressed a desire to make changes. The report set the stage for conversations with key legislators during the 2022 Legislative Session. We met with several legislators to bring them up to speed on the OLA Report and get their input and thoughts for next steps.

In addition to the issues we advanced, our team at LGN monitored issues important to the fire service like public safety duty disability working group discussions, and they defeated all threats such as the expansion of fireworks, limitations on residential sprinklers, and dangerous changes to the State Building Code. We expect renewed efforts in these areas next year and we plan to stay vigilant.

Finally, we wanted to thank everyone who participated in our Fire Service Day at the Capitol on February 9, 2022. We were pleased to welcome Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, Senate Taxes Committee Chair Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), House Judiciary and Civil Law Committee Chair Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), and State Auditor Julie Blaha. We are looking forward to next year’s Day at the Capitol that will return in-person on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

Please reach out to me or our lobbyists with any questions or comments.

2022 Legislative Committee Members

Chair: BJ Jungmann, Fire Chief, Burnsville Fire Dept. [email protected]

T. John Cunningham, Fire Chief, Brooklyn Park Fire Dept. George Esbensen, MNFIRE

Patrick Farrens, Fire Marshal, Maple Grove Fire Dept.

Jared Gapinski, Captain, Sauk Rapids Fire Dept.

Erik Jankila, Fire Chief, Hibbing Fire Dept.

Mark Juelfs, Fire Chief, South Metro Fire Dept.

Eric Kerska, Fire Chief, Rochester Fire Dept.

Wayne Kewitsch, MNFIRE

Steve Koering, Fire Chief, St. Louis Park Fire Dept. Ryan Knust,

Deputy State Fire Marshal, State Fire Marshal Office

Dan L’Allier, Deputy Public Safety Director, Lino Lakes Public Safety Dept.

Mark Marcy, 2nd Asst. Chief, Windom Fire Dept.

Jim McCoy, Fire Chief, Austin Fire Dept.

Mike Mondor, Fire Chief, Maplewood Fire Dept.

Mike Nelson, Captain, South Metro Fire Dept.

John Piper, Fire Chief, Coon Rapids Fire Dept.

Kevin Schroeder, Fire Chief (Ret.), Cloquet Area Fire District

Ryan Schroeder, Asst. Chief, Maplewood Fire Dept.

Andrew Slama, Fire Chief, Edina Fire Dept.

Dale Specken, Fire Chief, Hopkins Fire Dept.

Bryan Tyner, Fire Chief, Minneapolis Fire Dept.

John Vance, Fire Chief, Minnetonka Fire Dept.

James VanEyll, Fire Chief, Long Lake Fire Dept.

Jay Wood, Asst. Chief, Plato Fire Dept.

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