House members could meet in session a lot more often and start a few days later.
Those are two provisions in the omnibus state and local government policy bill that, ironically, is headed to the House Floor.
Containing myriad provisions affecting governmental operations across Minnesota, HF1826 was approved, as amended, Thursday by the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee on a nearly party-line 8-4 vote. Rep. Danny Nadeau (R-Rogers) crossed party lines.
The committee’s finance bill for the 2024-25 biennium is scheduled to be unveiled Monday and approved March 30.
“We’ve done a lot of important work this year together; we’ve had lots of great conversations,” said Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth), the bill sponsor.
Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) said many things in the bill are worth supporting, but many other ideas were not included and some incorporated provisions are not good ideas.
One came in the form of an amendment to the delete-all amendment that could result in more floor session gatherings, without counting against the legislative day limit.
A successfully offered Klevorn amendment includes provisions from bills that she said “were not quite ready for us at the time of regular committee.” One would redefine a legislative day to when either body “gives any bill a third reading, adopts a rule of procedure or organization, elects a university regent, confirms a gubernatorial appointment, or votes to override a gubernatorial veto.”
Per the state constitution, the Legislature can meet in biennial session for 120 legislative days; however, a legislative day is not defined. In statute, created in 1973, a legislative day is described as “a day when either house of the legislature is called to order.” So, for example, a brief session where members do nothing more than moving bills along in the committee process uses a legislative day.
The current process, Klevorn said, “delays and slows the process of doing the people’s work. It interferes with the public’s ability to keep up and to follow the work of the Legislature.
“… What this change will do is to free this and future legislatures, which may be controlled by another party, from the scheduling constraints that the present definition imposes allowing this and future legislatures to adopt whatever schedules they desire.”
Countered Nash: “It does effectively create more time for the majority party to do what they feel it is they need to do without having legislative days count against them.”
Calling the proposed change “not trivial,” Nash is upset the provision, introduced Monday as HF3000, was never heard during the committee process. He said it’s “offensive” that, as the committee’s Republican lead, he was not consulted. “We have seen each other on the floor and in committee and it was not discussed at all.”
“That’s why we’re here today, and I’m happy to talk about it fully today. It was posted in time, and you’ve had opportunity to review it. It will stay in the bill,” Klevorn responded.
In addition, the bill would change a session start date to “the first Tuesday after the second Monday in January of each odd-numbered year.”
An amendment successfully offered by Nash would, in part, require Minnesota IT Services to “establish metrics to assess the progress of any cloud computing project for each state agency” and include cloud computing migration metrics in a mandated legislative report.
Unsuccessful Republican-offered amendments include public funds could not be used to promote the state as a destination for receiving abortion or gender reassignment services, and a government entity could not invest in assets that “intentionally exclude Minnesota-based energy or natural resources companies or Minnesota-based agricultural or livestock companies to further the asset's environmental-, social-, or governance-based grade or rating.”
State government changes
The Senate has authority to confirm or reject gubernatorial appointees as agency commissioners, but in recent years that power has been used as leverage in budget negotiations. The bill would require automatic confirmation if the Senate has not acted to reject an appointment within 60 legislative days after receipt of the appointment letter.
Transitioning from Christopher Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day is one of the proposed state government changes, and the bill would change the effective date of a Juneteenth law enacted earlier this session to June 19, 2023.
The state’s “Ban the Box” law would be expanded to state board and commission appointments. It prohibits employers from inquiring into, or considering, an employment applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been selected for an interview or before a conditional offer of employment is made.
Other proposed changes in this area include:
Local government changes
Among the higher profile changes would be elimination of the local official salary cap; to control behavior and protect public safety, a city or town could require hotels operating in their boundary to be licensed by the city or town; and a city could allow a private property owner, authorized agent, or occupant to install and maintain a managed natural landscape. Plants and grasses more than 8 inches tall that have gone to seed would be permitted; noxious weeds would not.
Other local government changes proposed include:
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus state and local government policy bill: