2020 elections - what does it mean for clean energy?

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2020 elections in Minnesota - what does it all mean for clean energy? 

The 2020 election season is over. No matter which side of the aisle you lean, it’s most likely safe to say we’re all glad it’s over. The results of this year’s election at both the state and federal level will impact the potential for clean energy policy progress in 2021. We continue to be engaged. For example, our CEEM members met with candidates for State Senate to provide education on our industry and policy opportunities. We continue to look for opportunities to inform policymakers about how and why clean energy policy matters. 

Federal Elections

Minnesota’s House delegation is now evenly split, Senators re-elected

Minnesota’s Congressional delegation remained mostly intact, with one seat flipping from Democratic to Republican control. With Congressional District 7 switching to Republican control, Minnesota’s districts are now evenly split amongst Democrats and Republicans.

The re-election of Tina Smith is a good sign for the clean energy community. Smith has been elected to a six-year term, and has been a vocal champion for clean energy and energy efficiency measures at the federal level. 

  • District 1 | Jim Hagedorn (R)
  • District 2 | Angie Craig (D)
  • District 3 | Dean Phillips (D)
  • District 4 | Betty McCollum (D)
  • District 5 | Ilhan Omar (D)
  • District 6 | Tom Emmer (R)
  • District 7 | Michelle Fischbach (R) 
  • District 8 | Pete Stauber (R)
  • US Senate | Tina Smith (D)
  • US Senate | Amy Klobuchar (D)

federal capitolWhat do federal elections results mean?

The US Senate and House look to remain in separate majority controls - the House majority remains with Democrats, the Senate with Republicans. The election of former Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a positive sign for clean energy progress. The newly electeds launched a transition website highlighting four policy areas their administration will prioritize. They are as follows: 

  • The pandemic
  • Economic recovery
  • Racial equity
  • Climate change 

Biden has also indicated that potential stimulus bills intended to spur economic recovery from COVID-19 would include significant support for clean energy. Biden will need to negotiate any stimulus dollars with a Republican Senate. A Biden presidency will also  mean significant changes in federal agencies related to clean energy and environmental concerns.

Minnesota State Elections

In January, Minnesota will welcome its Ninety-second legislature. Based on results, status quo is maintained with a House Democratic majority and a Senate Republican majority. However, majority margins changed significantly in the House. Full results are available via the StarTribune.

Minnesota Senate remains with Republicans

The Minnesota State Senate will remain in Republican control by a one- or two-seat margin. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) has been re-elected to his position. Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL) has been re-elected to her position. 

While structure and membership of committees is yet to be determined, it is likely that Senator David Osmek (R- Mound) will continue to Chair a committee related to energy. All Republicans on the Senate Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee gained re-election. One notable change is that Committee Ranking Minority member Senator Erik Simonson (DFL- Duluth) is not returning. 

Minnesota House of Representatives remains with DemocratsMinnesota State Capitol Rotunda

Democrats were defending a 16-seat edge in the House, but that majority is now likely to be six seats. Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL) has been re-elected to her post. Similarly, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL) has also been re-elected to his position. On the Republican side, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R) has been re-elected to serve as the leader of House Republicans. While structure and membership of committees is yet to be determined, all members of the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division won re-election. Of note, Committee Chair Representative Jean Wagenius (DFL - Minneapolis) has retired.

What do state elections results mean?

Minnesota continues to be the only divided legislature in the nation. The COVID response and Gov. Walz exercising executive powers appear to be in question. Gov. Walz must continue to hold special legislative sessions every 30 days to renew special executive powers. Those powers can be revoked with a majority vote in both chambers. Based on observation of past votes on those executive powers and incoming House changes, it appears that the legislature could revoke those powers in January. This clears the way for legislative activity to address COVID concerns. 

Between now and January we expect leaders in both chambers to establish leadership, committees and processes for the 2021-2022 sessions. Committee organization will likely change for the next legislature. In 2018, the House established the Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division - the first committee to have climate in the title. The Senate Energy and Utilities Committee addressed clean energy concerns in the Senate. With health precautions due to COVID-19, we expect the 2021 session to look very different. We expect to see fewer House committees to simplify the legislative process.. New procedures and technology are expected to be put in place to ensure transparency and the ability for public participation while maintaining appropriate health precautions. 

In conclusion...

Clean energy is one of many topics of priority for all levels of government. We will work with our CEEM members to watch and inform federal proposals, including any federal stimulus. At the state level, the legislative branch and the Walz/Flanagan administration will be forming legislative agendas in the coming weeks. Policy certainty at all levels creates an environment for investment and growth in our clean energy industries. Stay tuned to our newsletters for updates!