Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

Back to profile

Legislative Weekly Recap - April 27 - May 3, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

Last week we spent many hours on the House floor, a few nights past midnight, passing omnibus bills and individual bills. The omnibus bills now head to conference committees where their differences with the Senate will be hashed out. Traditionally, Conference Committees are made up of members of the House and the Senate who have voted yes on the omnibus bill. Conference Committees have both a House and Senate chair and each day they meet the gavel moves from one to the other. There are side-by-sides put together by House/Senate staff that match up the bill sections that are identical and different. Below is a brief summary of some of the omnibus bills that took the most time to debate last week.

Higher Education Omnibus (SF 5/HF 845)

The House passed the Higher Ed. Omnibus bill last Monday. The bill fails to address escalating tuition and student debt burdens. While the bill provides some investment in our public colleges and universities, it also lays new burdens on community colleges, and doesn’t provide enough to allow both the U of M and MnSCU to continue their freeze on tuition. Not only will the 67,000 students at the University of Minnesota see a tuition hike, but money is taken from the State Grant program for low-income students to make a short-term tuition freeze at MnSCU schools possible. This bill fails to invest in the University of Minnesota Medical School and lacks the administrative oversight provisions that were put in place last year. I couldn’t support the bill.

Health & Human Services (SF 1458/HF 1638)

Probably the most embarrassing bill that has been put forward by the majority this session was the HHS omnibus bill passed through the House last Tuesday. The problems with this bill are myriad, but the most harm comes from eliminating the health care coverage of approximately 100,000 working low-income Minnesotans by doing away with the MinnesotaCare program. MinnesotaCare has been a lifeline for thousands of working families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be able to afford health insurance premiums found on the exchange. The bill also continues the disappointing tradition of budgeting using shifts and gimmicks. MPR fact-checkers confirmed our suspicions on Friday that the majority uses $300 million in “funny money” as part of their HHS budget target. This money doesn’t exist, doesn’t come from anywhere else in the budget, and likely wouldn’t appear with the auditing that is proposed. It is hard to believe that the majority would decide to cut $1 billion from the safety net for our most vulnerable Minnesotans to then spend $2 billion on the Tax bill. I opposed the bill.

Taxes (HF 848/SF 826)

As I updated you last week, many of the structural problems in all of these omnibus finance bills come from the majority’s desire to prioritize billions in permanent tax cuts for businesses, over the needs of Minnesota communities and regular Minnesota families. The bill would raise property taxes for all property owners in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth. You can read last week’s update on the tax bill here. The House passed the Omnibus Tax bill last Wednesday after several hours of debate. I opposed the bill.

Public Safety (HF 849/ SF 878)

The Omnibus Public Safety bill passed the House last Tuesday, largely similar to Governor Dayton’s budget requests to fund courts, prisons, state fire and law enforcement, but with a few notable differences. The House bill includes funding to combat terrorism recruitment and additional funding to end sex-trafficking in Minnesota, and also includes some additional Republican firearms measures that would make it legal to carry a gun at the Capitol without providing Capitol security any special notice other than a state-issued permit to carry.

During the rest of the week we passed many other individual bills as well as the Legacy Omnibus Bill and the Liquor Omnibus Bill. This coming week we will have individual bills on the House floor as we wait for the conference committees to complete their work.

Avian Flu Crisis (HF 2225)

Last week the House passed the conference committee report to provide $900,000 in emergency funding to the Department of Agriculture as they continue to confront the statewide avian influenza outbreak. The bill was then sent to the Governor to sign. There will be additional aid provisions in the Omnibus Agriculture Finance bill we take up late today (Monday, May 4). I voted for the emergency funding.

High School Page Program

The Minnesota House of Representatives High School Page Program offers a unique opportunity for students to examine what they learn in the classroom under real life circumstances. Students participate in a wide variety of activities, each designed to further their understanding of our state government and the legislative process. I was honored to have yet another high school page from my district this last week. Her name is Ayana Reiner, she is an exchange student from Haifa, Israel attending Breck High School while living with her host family in Hopkins.

As the session comes to a close, please let me know if you have any questions on individual bills and how to track down if they were included in a larger omnibus bill or if they are still traveling on their own.

Have a great week!