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TMCNet:  Minn. Chamber sets priorities for legislative session

[December 17, 2012]

Minn. Chamber sets priorities for legislative session

Dec 17, 2012 (Albert Lea Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- With less than a month to go until the start of the 2013 legislative session, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has announced its legislative priorities for the year.

Jim Pumarlo, director of communications for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said the organization's top goal is to encourage policies that will create more jobs in the private sector.

Pumarlo, and Lou-Rich CEO Mike Larson, met with the Tribune Friday to discuss what issues the chamber plans to lobby during the session.

To create more jobs, both Pumarlo and Larson stressed the importance of strengthening education and workforce development. They also stressed making sure that all high school graduates have practical and academic skills to enter the workforce or a postsecondary education and talked about better aligning postsecondary training with employer demands.

"We're always in need of skilled workforce," Larson said. "We're struggling today to hire skilled people." He said the company has hired 28 people so far this year and would be hiring more if trained people presented themselves to the company.

Spending and tax reform Pumarlo said the chamber board is supportive of reforming spending first to ensure long-term fiscal stability.

"We're saying at all levels of government, look at the programs you have and focus on statewide priorities," he said. Then, he noted, make sure there is a way to measure the outcomes.

After working on spending, Pumarlo said legislators should focus on tax reforms that develop a new tax structure at a revenue-neutral perspective.

Larson said he thinks the state needs to work on becoming more efficient, not only with tax collection and redistribution to local entities but also with regulations.

Heath care The chamber is calling for a Minnesota-made health insurance exchange that facilitates but does not regulate the marketplace.

Pumarlo said the chamber wants health care to remain in the private marketplace, and Larson commented on the importance of making sure that health care is competitive.

Environmental regulations Pumarlo and Larson said they were supportive of timely government regulations for permits.

Pumarlo said the longer it takes to get a permit, the higher likelihood a business will take its jobs someplace else.

Election reform Pumarlo said the chamber is supportive of moving the primary elections to June instead of August to give candidates a better chance to establish a campaign before November.

He said it should also increase voter participation.

___ (c)2012 the Albert Lea Tribune (Albert Lea, Minn.) Visit the Albert Lea Tribune (Albert Lea, Minn.) at www.albertleatribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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