Minnesota Government Shutdown: What It Means To You

Here in Minnesota, the immediate future for our state is, shall we say, troubled. Due to an inability for Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-led Legislature to come to a state budget agreement, government workers and businesses all over the state are preparing for a government shutdown, which is scheduled to begin on July 1st if an agreement is not made.

As a small business, what does this mean for you? At this point, it’s difficult to say.

The Attorney General has petitioned for a core of services to remain unaffected by the shutdown, including services of the Secretary of State, but ultimately, this needs to be decided by the courts. Nothing is certain.

So, if the shutdown does occur, and the Secretary of State is not given the funds they need to ride it out, what could this mean to business?

  • No business filings. This includes new business registrations, annual renewals (even online), certificates or certified copies—all of it.
  • No notary services
  • No substituted service of process on businesses
  • No Uniform Commercial Code document filings
  • Funds allocated for nonprofit organizations halted

With no new businesses able to be formed, and existing businesses with reports and other documentation that they find themselves potentially unable to file by the deadlines, a government shutdown could have devastating effects on Minnesota businesses.

But how likely is this to actually happen? Dayton and the Legislature are surely bluffing…right?

Not necessarily—and it’s dangerous to assume that they’ll come to an agreement by June 30th simply because they should. A look back at 2005 reminds us that Minnesota, under Governor Pawlenty, partially shut down for eight days before an agreement was finally reached.

Was there a political reason for the 2005 shutdown? Probably (isn’t there always a political reason?)—Pawlenty’s upcoming 2006 election was looming, and DFLers likely didn’t shed any tears over Pawlenty’s apparent inability to get things done. But current Governor Dayton is a relative newcomer. What can we expect when the dust settles? The bottom line: no one knows for sure how (or when) this will end, but as of this morning, the situation isn’t pretty.

”]Minnesota State Capitol

If there’s any lesson to be had here, it’s that sometimes, despite your best intentions with your business, things just don’t go as planned and there are larger forces working against you (or, at least, not exactly with you). If you have any business filings, take care of them now (and pay for expedited filing, if you want to be sure your documents aren’t spending the government shutdown floundering on an empty desk in a dark office somewhere). If you have any government needs, take care of them now. And in the meantime, follow the proceedings with Minnesota Public Radio‘s excellent coverage of the events.

Hopefully, our government leaders can come to an agreement before the deadline and Minnesota businesses (and schools and nonprofits and nursing homes) can continue growing and flourishing. Hopefully, the Governor and the Legislature can pull back their focus and see what a shutdown is doing to their constituents and reach a compromise that works for everyone. Will this actually happen—in time? Only time will tell.

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