Committee: Legislative Committee

Contact: BJ Jungmann, Chair –  [email protected]

2023 Mission: The mission of the Legislative Committee is to provide focus, representation, and visibility for the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association (MSFCA) in legislative activities. This is done 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.

2023 Report:  
The Minnesota Legislature concluded the 2023 legislative session on May 22, after passing all required budget bills and a $2.6 billion bonding and infrastructure package. This is the first time they have finished on time in 10 years, and they will meet again in February 2024.

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

The Minnesota Fire Association Coalition (MNFAC) has an alliance with the Minnesota State Fire Department Association (MSFDA), Minnesota Fire Marshals Association (FMAM), and the Minnesota Chapter of the International Arson Investigators Association (IAAI). This alliance 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 issues and discuss legislative strategy. It is also worth noting that we do not represent the Minnesota Professional Firefighters. However, 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. LGN secured its placement in the House and Senate on omnibus bills. We continued strengthening our relationships with the Governor’s Office, the legislature, key staff members, and agency heads.

We worked with Representative Larry Kraft (DFL-St. Louis Park), Senator Judy Seeberger (DFL-Afton), and the House and Senate Public Safety Chairs to advance the request for a .15% increase to the Fire Safety Account surcharge. We secured a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee on this request. We engaged members of the House Public Safety Committee. They could have opposed this measure prior to the hearing, so the hearing went very well. We succeeded in having the provision that included both the Senate and House public safety omnibus budgets and survived conference committee negotiations. This .15% increase means the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education (MBFTE), and the Statewide Response Teams will receive an additional $5.1 million in annual funding. The Governor signed this bill into law on May 24.

We maintained strong relationships with the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) members in pensions. The legislature passed an omnibus pension budget bill and an omnibus pension policy bill. They both have been signed by the Governor and passed by both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support. The policy bill contained an increased audit threshold for fire relief associations, a Hamel and Loretto provision, and other small, noncontroversial changes relating to vesting and joining the Statewide Volunteer Firefighter (SVF) plan. The budget bill contained $5 million for incentives for volunteer fire relief associations to join the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) SVF Plan. Incentive program details are still forthcoming and will be determined by the end of this year.

After working with the Department of Revenue, House and Senate Tax Chairs from two separate bienniums, Chief Authors Representative Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield) and Senator John Jasinski (R-Faribault), the updated Fire State Aid article was included in this year’s final tax agreement. That article contained fire definition language agreed upon by several stakeholders. We are pleased to help push it across the finish line after a multi-year effort.

The lobbying team at Taft Advisors worked with MNFAC to introduce legislation this year that received a hearing in the House Health Committee. As expected, there was a lot of opposition to this bill. Legislators would like more work done with stakeholders to find common ground before passing any bills. We are currently working to get stakeholders together to meet before the 2024 session to do exactly that.

After three years of stakeholder discussions and work, the 2023 Legislature passed duty disability reforms toward the end of the session. We were involved throughout the process and offered input and support, working closely with the LCPR and Retirement Chair Representative Kaohly Her (DFLSaint Paul). A compromise reached by employers, labor groups, and the PERA was signed into law by Governor Walz after receiving bipartisan support in both chambers.

The final omnibus tax bill included $300 million in a one-time public safety aid for cities, counties, and tribal governments. These funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including community violence prevention, intervention programs, community engagement, mental health crisis responses, victim services, training programs, first responder wellness, equipment related to fire, rescue, and emergency services, or to pay other personnel or equipment costs.

On January 17, we held the annual Fire Service Day at the Capitol event in person for the first time since 2020. Our guest speakers included Governor Walz, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson, State Auditor Julie Blaha, Senator Judy Seeberger (DFLAfton), and Senator Zach Duckworth (R-Lakeville). We had a spectacular turnout with more than 150 participants and dozens of legislative meetings where we discussed MNFAC’s legislative priorities. It was a very impactful day with many new faces at the Legislature.

The 2023 legislative session was extraordinarily fast-paced and busy, with an unprecedented surplus and control by one political party. We made significant progress on our legislative priorities and look forward to continuing our efforts next year.

In addition to the issues we advanced, our team at LGN monitored issues important to the fire service, like 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 plan to stay vigilant.

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

2023 Legislative Committee Members:

  • Chair: BJ Jungmann, Fire Chief, Burnsville

  • Jeremie Bresnahan, Fire Chief, Savage

  • Jesse Buhs, Fire Chief, Cloquet

  • George Esbensen, MnFIRE

  • Patrick Farrens, Fire Chief, Rogers

  • Jared Gapinski, Captain, Sauk Rapids

  • Erik Jankila, Fire Chief, Hibbing

  • Mark Juelfs, Fire Chief, South Metro

  • Eric Kerska, Fire Chief, Rochester

  • Wayne Kewitsch, MnFIRE

  • Steve Koering, Fire Chief, St. Louis Park

  • Dan L’Allier, Deputy Public Safety Director, Lino Lakes

  • Jim McCoy, Fire Chief, Austin

  • Mike Meyer, Fire Chief, Lakeville

  • Mike Mondor, Fire Chief, Maplewood

  • Mike Nelson, Captain, South Metro

  • John Piper, Fire Chief, Coon Rapids

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

  • Ryan Schroeder, Assistant Chief, Maplewood

  • Andrew Slama, Fire Chief, Edina

  • Dale Specken, Fire Chief, Hopkins

  • Bryan Tyner, Fire Chief, Minneapolis

  • John Vance, Fire Chief, Minnetonka

  • James VanEyll, Fire Chief, Orono

  • Kevin Wold, Fire Chief, Oakdale

  • Jay Wood, Assistant Chief, Plato

Legislative Committee File Library

Legislative Bill Tracker File Library

EMS Transcripts File Library

Public Legislative Resources

Town Hall Presentation from Representative Rasmusson