DFL majorities move to adopt liability shift language in labor omnibus bill

Following more than a week of closed-door negotiations between members of the Jobs, Economic Development, and Labor Conference Committee, the language of the agreement between the House and the Senate was released Friday morning and adopted by the committee that night.

Energy code chaos

The House version originally contained language that would have created a new process of adoption for the residential energy code. The language would have introduced new concepts such as “mitigating the impact of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing and optimizing energy efficiency and improving resiliency of new buildings.”

Housing First Minnesota expressed serious concerns with the language throughout the committee process. The conference committee did not accept this language, instead limiting the scope of the language to the original intent of the bill with changes to the commercial energy code.

Electric vehicle charging

The conference committee report includes language to require the state building code to require a minimum number of electric vehicle-ready spaces, electric vehicle-capable spaces and electric vehicle charging states within or adjacent to new commercial and multifamily structures. It is important to note that this requirement exempts residential structures with fewer than four dwelling units.

Adding solar contractors to the contractor recovery fund

Moving forward, contractors who install solar panels on roofs will be obligated to contribute to the contractor recovery fund. The original language of this bill would have allowed harmed solar consumers to utilize the fund despite solar contractors never previously paying into the fund.

Liability shift within the construction industry

Despite hundreds of industry members contacting their legislators with concerns about this language, the conference committee moved to adopt it. The language imposes joint and several liability on all general contractors for the actions of their subcontractors. Generals cannot hold onto funds from subcontractors until employee payments are verified. This can result in paying for the same work twice and legal action, even if unaware of any wrongdoing.

Additionally, there are multiple provisions that may impact all businesses in Minnesota related to the safe and sick time provisions.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Senate debated the conference committee report for hours and is likely to adopt the report along party lines. The House of Representatives passed the language Tuesday night.

The bill now heads to Gov. Walz’s desk for his signature.