Public Benefit Corporations

Public Benefit Corporations were created in 2015 to create business to help people and their communities. For details See below.

New for Minnesota in 2015: Public Benefit Corporations 
by Senator John Marty
December 31, 2014
Beginning this January, Minnesota entrepreneurs and investors will be able to go into business as Public Benefit Corporations. These benefit corporations will be accountable to their owners or shareholders, like all other businesses, but they will also be committing to serve other stakeholders in their business – including employees, customers, the health and well-being of the community and the environment – as well. 

After a decade of pushing for this alternative business structure, I was pleased to see the legislation pass with strong bipartisan support last session. 

Many businesspeople want to look out for the public interest, but they are concerned that under traditional corporate law, their fiduciary responsibility to stockholders precludes them from paying better wages or protecting the environment if profit margins are affected. Some of those businesses hire attorneys to draft customized legal documents to allow them to commit company resources to meeting a social purpose, but this legal work can be expensive and risky. 

Additionally, it can be challenging for companies who do create a customized legal frameworks to educate consumers, vendors and investors on how their social purpose fits into their business model.

Recognizing that there was a need for this new corporate structure a team of top lawyers from the corporate law section of the Bar Association volunteered their time to re-draft and refine this legislation. They created a system that is simple enough that a small start-up business should be able to form a benefit corporation on their own, without hiring a lawyer. With this carefully crafted legislation, and strong support from many business owners and entrepreneurs, Minnesota joined the growing number of states that enable formation of benefit corporations. 

The new law gives businesses the option of incorporating under the traditional corporate structure or under this alternative Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) model that acknowledges their responsibility to other stakeholders as well as shareholders. Those who choose to become PBCs will spell out, in their charter, their corporate mission. They will either commit to a general benefit, where the corporate mission will aim to serve the broader community, or to a specific social purpose.

These benefit corporations will file an annual benefit report describing how the company pursued and created public benefits each year. The state will not evaluate the social value of PBCs; the market will. Because these reports will be publicly available, investors, consumers, and the broader public will have the information to evaluate the good these businesses perform, and can reward companies accordingly. 

Business owners recognize that it is a very real asset to have a positive reputation and public trust. It creates loyal customers. Similarly, many employers recognize that good compensation for their employees results in happier, more productive workers.

Benefit corporations move beyond philanthropic and government financial support and tap into the resources of the private sector to make a positive impact.

Many business people have always understood the importance of protecting the environment, ensuring public health and safety, and treating workers fairly. The Minnesota Public Benefit Corporation Act is not a miracle cure to our society’s problems, but it is another tool to help those businesses accomplish that mission. 

In these days when corporate scandals and corporate greed regularly make headlines, benefit corporations are a step in the right direction.

Minnesota Sex Education Bill

In our 2/25/2020 local caucus, we had a spirited discussion about the proposed Sex Education Bill HF 1414 sponsored by Rep. Todd Lippert, DFL-Northfield. This bill would require sex education to be medically accurate and age appropriate. In addition, curriculum would be expected to cover a wide variety of topics, including gender-based violence, affirmative consent and contraceptives, and would be required to be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, it has rules stipulating procedures for detecting and reporting sexual predators employed by the school.

Nowhere in the bill is there a list of books that the school must adopt. Directly from the bill:

(1) respect community values and encourage students to communicate with parents or 
guardians; faith, health, and social services professionals; and other trusted adults about 
sexuality and intimate relationships;

(2) respond to culturally diverse individuals, families, and communities in an inclusive, 
respectful, and effective manner;

(3) provide students with information about local resources where students may obtain  medically accurate information and services related to sexual and reproductive health, dating  violence, and sexual assault.

I think there is confusion because on the House floor, Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, cited the book “It’s Perfectly Normal” as an example of what he believes sex education could look like if the new guidelines are approved. This book was taken to several meetings around the state to promote the defeat of the bill.  “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie H. Harris, first published in 1994, is intended to teach children 10 and older about sexual health. The book includes cartoon depictions of naked people engaging in acts of a sexual nature. Many school libraries across the nation have banned or restricted access to the book, but a limited number of Minnesota districts have it in their collections.

I personally would not want this book taught in schools. If parents want their child to have access to this book, it should be done in the home with a parent. That doesn’t mean I am against Sex Education, but as a concerned parent (now grandparent) I would certainly make sure that the school board adheres to my moral values. 

Caucus Sites 2020

DFL Caucus Sites, February 25, 2020  Time: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. 320-533-0801

  1.  Bertha:  310 Central Ave S, Bertha-Hewitt High School Cafeteria.  Cities of Bertha and Hewitt; townships of Bartlett, Bertha, Germania, Stowe Prairie
  2.  Eagle Bend:  Hilltop Kitchen meeting room, 405 Main Street West.  Cities of Clarissa and Eagle Bend; townships of Burleene, Eagle Valley, and Wykeham
  3. Browerville: High School & Elementary Library, 620 Park Ave. N.  City of Browerville; townships of Hartford, Iona, Little Elk, Turtle Creek and Ward  
  4. Long Prairie:  LPGE Middle School (Old High School by Courthouse), Door E 2.  For Handicap entrance, use door E 1, go down. City of Long Prairie; townships of Bruce, Long Prairie, and Reynolds.
  5. Staples: City Hall meeting room, 122  6th Street. City of Staples; townships of Fawn Lake, Moran, Staples, and Villard
  6. Osakis: Galeon meeting room, downstairs, 410 W. Main Street.  Cities of Osakis (Todd County part); and West Union; townships of Gordon, Kandota, Leslie, Little Sauk, and West Union.
  7. Grey Eagle:  GE Housing Association, 303 Cedar Street N, (apartments) meeting room.  Cities of Burtrum and Grey Eagle; townships of Birchdale, Burnhamville, Grey Eagle, and Round Prairie. 

2020 Caucus Sites & Townships

DFL Caucus Sites, February 25, 2020  Time: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. 320-533-0801

  1.  Bertha:  310 Central Ave S, Bertha-Hewitt High School Cafeteria.  Cities of Bertha and Hewitt; townships of Bartlett, Bertha, Germania, Stowe Prairie
  1.  Eagle Bend:  Hilltop Kitchen meeting room, 405 Main Street West.  Cities of Clarissa and Eagle Bend; townships of Burleene, Eagle Valley, and Wykeham
  1. Browerville: High School & Elementary Library, 620 Park Ave. N.  City of Browerville; townships of Hartford, Iona, Little Elk, Turtle Creek and Ward  
  1. Long Prairie:  LPGE Middle School (Old High School by Courthouse), Door E 2.  For Handicap entrance, use door E 1, go down. City of Long Prairie; townships of Bruce, Long Prairie, and Reynolds.
  1. Staples: City Hall meeting room, 122  6th Street. City of Staples; townships of Fawn Lake, Moran, Staples, and Villard
  1. Osakis: Galeon meeting room, downstairs, 410 W. Main Street.  Cities of Osakis (Todd County part); and West Union; townships of Gordon, Kandota, Leslie, Little Sauk, and West Union.
  1. Grey Eagle:  GE Housing Association, 303 Cedar Street N, (apartments) meeting room.  Cities of Burtrum and Grey Eagle; townships of Birchdale, Burnhamville, Grey Eagle, and Round Prairie.