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With finish line in mind, ways and means committee melds eight supplemental spending bills into three

Rep. Liz Olson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, presides over a packed hearing room April 25. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
Rep. Liz Olson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, presides over a packed hearing room April 25. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

(Updated 4:42 p.m.)

There was a lot of merging traffic at Thursday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

With less than four weeks remaining in the 2024 session, the agenda was designed to create a smooth road to the finish line by reducing the number of bills that will be heard on the House Floor.

Merging eight supplemental budget bills into three was among the actions the committee took during the three-hour meeting.

“Since I’ve been on the ways and means committee, we’ve done it this way, just because, every year, there’s different ways the budget lines up with the Senate,” Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), the committee chair, said. “We want to make sure different elements of different budget bills match up when they go to conference.”

Here are the supplemental funding bills that were combined and approved at Thursday’s meeting:

Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) objected to the veterans bill being merged into the state and local government bill, saying that the veterans bill could be unanimously passed if it stood alone. Nonetheless, the merger was approved by the committee.

House Ways and Means Committee 4/25/24

[MORE: View committee budget targets]

Not every bill is subject to a merger, however. Finance bills that look to be flying solo as they move through the process include three approved by the committee Thursday: legacy, environment (as amended) and pensions.

Olson said that the committee will take up the bills for taxes, elections, economic development and workforce development on Monday, with another meeting planned for Tuesday.

There will probably be more merging afoot in the coming days, as the Senate’s committee structure combines health and human services, as well as judiciary and public safety. The House has separate committees for each of those subject areas.

Republican members advocated strongly for pursuing a bipartisan approach in modifying the bills going forward. One subject of agreement emerged when Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) spoke glowingly of the potential for a large helium deposit in northern Minnesota that’s addressed in the environment and natural resources bill. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) concurred.

“This could be the most important thing we deal with this session,” Hansen said.

— Session Daily editor Mike Cook contributed to this story.


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