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Election 2018: What it means for CPAs and Minnesotans


Geno Fragnito, MNCPA director of government relations | December/January 2018-19 Footnote

Elections are hardly boring. The 2018 general election results illustrated that perfectly.

Democrats maintained control of the governor's mansion with a win from retiring Congressman Tim Walz. Republicans won the sole Minnesota Senate special election and maintained control of the upper house. Democrats took control of the Minnesota House of Representatives, changing a 77--57 Republican advantage to a 75--59 Democratic majority.

The election results also usher in an ever-changing demographic makeup of Minnesota lawmakers, with many first-time candidates taking office. When the 2019 session begins Jan. 8, there will be 39 new members of the Minnesota House and one new member of the Minnesota Senate. Twenty of the newly elected House members are men, and 19 are women. The House DFL caucus is split 40 men to 35 women, and the Republican caucus is split 46 men to 13 women.

Interestingly, Minnesota is now the only state in the nation that doesn't have one party controlling both chambers of the Legislature. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this is the first time this has happened since 1914.  

Other statewide races

Democrats will also lead the other three constitutional offices. Incumbent State Auditor Rebecca Otto didn't seek re-election; Julie Blaha was elected the next auditor. Incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson also chose not to seek re-election, and retiring Congressman Keith Ellison was elected the next attorney general. Incumbent Secretary of State Steve Simon was re-elected for a second term.

Federal election shakeup

Minnesotans re-elected Sen. Amy Klobuchar and elected Sen. Tina Smith after she was appointed in January to fill a vacancy created after the resignation of Al Franken.

The U.S. House of Representatives races resulted in the election of five new people to the Minnesota congressional delegation.

Democratic candidate Dean Phillips defeated Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen in Congressional District 3. Congressional District 2 was a rematch between Democrat Angie Craig and Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, with Craig winning in 2018. In Congressional District 1, which Walz represented for the past decade, Republican candidate Jim Hagedorn came out on top. In Congressional District 8, retiring Rep. Rick Nolan left a vacancy, and it switched from a Democratic-held district to Republican, with candidate Pete Stauber's win. Democrat Ilhan Omar, who was the first Somali-American elected to the Minnesota House two years ago, won the Congressional District 5 seat to replace Ellison. Elsewhere, Republican Tom Emmer in Congressional District 6, and Democrats Collin Peterson in Congressional District 7 and Betty McCollum in Congressional District 4 won their re-election bids.

That's five new federal lawmakers the MNCPA will continue to develop relationships with as they transition from candidates to representatives. It also -- when combined with the U.S. Senate -- gives us an even split of five men and five women for representation in Washington, D.C., the first time an even balance has existed in Minnesota.

Where CPAs come in

Legislators and Walz will need to hit the ground running to develop a new two-year state budget, but they will also need to address unfinished business from 2018. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed two tax bills in 2018, resulting in a very complex and confusing set of tax laws for Minnesotans.

Legislators will look for guidance as they debate what tax laws to change and which priorities to focus on for the 2019 session. For most of the newly-elected legislators, this will be their first conversation about federal conformity, transportation, health care, education and many other issues.

The MNCPA will continue to advocate for simplicity and serve as a resource to help all legislators understand the implications of tax law changes they are considering. CPAs can also serve as trusted advisers to help elected officials better understand how your business or clients will be affected. You are in a great position to bring individual, client and business perspectives to the conversation.

Find all Minnesota elections results on the Minnesota Secretary of State's election website.