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

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Legislative Weekly Recap - May 4-10, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

Last week was spent on the House floor voting on individual bills, with conference committees meeting throughout. This week will be much of the same until the conference committees get their work done. Session adjourns at midnight on Monday, May 18 unless we vote to meet after midnight. There is a lot of work to be done before then and you will definitely see a race to the finish. We will likely be meeting after midnight quite a few days this week in an attempt to finish before deadline.

I am happy to report that my Silver Alert bill (HF805/SF857) has been scheduled to be heard on the floor tomorrow [Tuesday, May 12]. The bill language in the House and Senate is identical. That means that when/if it passes off the floor it can head straight to the Governor’s desk. The Silver Alert bill creates a working group of stakeholders to figure out how Minnesota can implement a Silver Alert. A Silver Alert would look much like an Amber Alert but be used when someone with Alzheimer’s, dementia or a traumatic brain injury becomes lost. It is exciting to see this important bill make it all of the way through the Senate and now receive a final vote on the House floor.

Conference Committees

A conference committee is made up of House and Senate members who have voted in the affirmative for an individual bill. House and Senate conferees meet to compare and reconcile differences between what was passed off of the House and Senate floors. A conference committee report is the final product that comes out of these joint House/Senate conference committees. The conference committee report sets the final biennium budget for that area of state government spending. After final passage the conference committee report, in the form of a bill, goes to the Governor’s desk for final approval. If the Governor signs it, that area of the budget is complete. If he vetoes it, it heads back to the “drawing board” -- the conference committee.

To do their work, conference committees have to have spending targets. A spending target is set when the House and Senate agree upon the amount of money that will be spent in the next biennium on that area of the budget. Until a conference committee receives that target, they cannot really move forward. As of May 11, most of the conference committees do not have their spending target. The biggest monetary difference can be seen in the HHS and Tax Omnibus bills. As a refresher, here is what the omnibus bills funding proposals were as they left the House and Senate floors.



State Senate

State House

E-12 Education

+ $694 million

+ $350 million

+ $157 million

Higher Education

+ $288 million

+ $205 million

+ $53 million

Tax reductions

$138 million

$460 million

$ 2.26 billion

Health Care, Nursing Homes, Disability Services

+ $341 million

+ $341 million

- $1.15 billion

Environment/Agriculture/Jobs Programs

+ $82 million

+ $45 million

- $35 million


+ $26 million

+ $25 million

+ $148 million

Public Safety

+ $147 million

+ $117 million

+ $82 million

State Government/Veterans

+ $63 million

+ $52 million

- $67 million

Budget Reserve

+ $0

+ $250 million

+ 100 million

Total Net Spending       

$42.98 billion

$42.73 billion

$42.58 billion

Another matter of contention this year is the amount of policy the House GOP has put in their finance omnibus bills. Traditionally, finance omnibus bills have little or no policy in them and major policy initiatives move on their own or in policy omnibus bills. Below is a list of some of the major conference committees that are meeting, and the House and Senate file numbers.  You can view a complete list of conference committees, their bill numbers, and their conferees online here.

Final Days

The final days of the session will be very fluid, fast and furious. The best way to keep up with progress of the conference committees is to sign up for the non-partisan House Session Daily. You can subscribe to the Session Daily news feed here. The House Session Daily will give up to date information on when conference committees are meeting as well as what they are discussing.

With the session expected to go down to the wire, I will not have time to send out a weekly recap on Monday. But, I will send a Session Recap by the end of next week that should give you the details of the deals that were struck in the final hours. For a glimpse of what is going on hour by hour, social media is a handy tool. If you are on Twitter, you may want to follow these hashtags: #mnleg , #mnhouse , #mnbudget , #mngov , #pipress or #stribpol .

Constituent Contact

I would like to take this time to thank you all for either e-mailing, writing or phoning my office this session. Your questions, insights and advocacy were greatly appreciated! Please stay tuned for dates for the Latz/Winkler/Youakim Town Hall Session wrap-up. As we near the end of session, I will be spending a lot of time on the House floor and e-mail will be the best way to contact me.

Upcoming Events in our District

On May 17, the 22nd-Annual Children First Ice Cream Social presented by Citizens Independent Bank will be 2-5 p.m. at Wolfe Park, 3700 Monterey Drive in St. Louis Park. Children First encourages all adults to intentionally focus on the relationships, experiences and expectations that St. Louis Park young people need to thrive. You can learn more here.

Also coming up on May 16 is Hopkins Mainstreet Days Arts and Craft Fair, sponsored by the Hopkins Area Jaycees. The event is open to the public from 9am - 4pm. There will be entertainment for the entire family that includes train rides, a balloon twister, and more. Here is a link to their website.

Have a great week!