Here is an update on what’s happening at the Capitol:
Session ended on a flat note May 22 at midnight after it became apparent Senate Republicans had no interest in finishing our work.
By way of brief background in the final days, the House Education Finance Committee, of which I chair, made multiple compromise offers in an effort to find compromise with the Senate on a supplemental education funding plan to get our students and schools back on track after a tremendously difficult two years. Unfortunately, Senators walked away from critical mental health investments to secure more school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses. They refused to allocate any funds from our $1 billion education framework agreement to help our schools slash special education and English language learning deficits or cross subsidies. They shut down any discussion around the strategies we could enact to help close racial disparities and the opportunity gap.
The House crafted a compromise Higher Education funding bill with the Senate after completing their conference committee work to find common ground; unfortunately, the other chamber decided not to take the bill up for a full vote, essentially blocking it from moving forward to full passage.
To say this is frustrating is an understatement. Regardless of your politics, when you give someone your word and sign an agreement, you honor that agreement. Integrity matters to Minnesotans.
Speaking of signed deals, the tax committee was able to find compromise and shared the outline of their bill publicly on the last Saturday before we adjourned. They urged lawmakers to use their bill as an example to find common ground to get the job done.
I held a press conference shortly after their announcement, calling Republicans serving on the Education negotiating team back to the table to complete our work, which was met with silence.
Other budget items on the “to-do” list are transportation; long-term care; health and human services; public safety; state government finance; higher education; housing; and workforce development. While I’m not holding my breath, I remain cautiously optimistic Senators will come to their senses to finish the job Minnesotans elected us to do.
Here’s a look at what did pass:
The House approved a compromise Legacy budget to invest $159 million to invest in the Outdoor Heritage Fund to restore, enhance, and protect an estimated 80,929 acres of wildlife habitat and 127 miles of shoreline throughout Minnesota. Activities include native prairie protection, wetland restoration, trout stream enhancement, public wildlife land enhancements, shallow lake enhancements, forest fragmentation prevention, and strategic land acquisition in fee and conservation easement.
The governor recently signed into law the compromise Veterans & Military Affairs finance bill following a bipartisan agreement with the House and Senate. This bill invests significant new funding to address veterans homelessness, provides additional funding for Minnesota’s new veterans homes, and offers service bonuses to those who served during the post-9/11 Global War on Terror. You can read more about what we’re doing for veterans from the nonpartisan office of House Public Information Services here.
Ag and Broadband
Near the end of session, the Minnesota House approved a compromise supplemental Agriculture budget investing $15 million over the next three years in farmers and food production in Minnesota. The bill also included a package of relief for farmers and communities impacted by last year’s drought conditions. Notably, the package includes a total of $210 million worth of new investments in broadband. Zero Republican in the House voted for the bill.
We also passed today the compromise conference committee report on liquor law updates. I’m glad we’re helping Minnesota craft breweries and distilleries grow and thrive by modernizing our state’s liquor laws. Under the compromise bill, breweries under 7,500 barrels per year will be able to sell up to 128oz per person per day for off-site consumption (six and four packs to go). It also frees the “Growler Cap” and will allow all breweries in the state to sell beer directly to consumers. Additionally, our distillers will have the option of selling their spirits in a larger bottle directly to customers. You can read more details about the compromise legislation here.
Keep in Touch
Please continue to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-0173. Although I’m not running for re-election, I will continue to represent you and serve our South Minneapolis community until January.
Thank you for the opportunity to work with you on the issues that matter most to us.