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

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Legislative Weekly Recap - April 4-10, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hello Everyone,

Last Friday, April 8, saw the second policy deadline come and go. A bill must have made it through all of the committees that have jurisdiction to any part of it in both the House and Senate by that day. After that a policy bill that has not met deadline will have few options to move forward this session. It could be amended onto another bill and continue on. Otherwise, the House Rules Committee would have to vote to allow it to move through the process after deadlines. In that case, the committee chairs that have jurisdiction would have to be willing to have hearings to progress the bill.

 Third deadline is on Thursday, April 21. Third deadline is for committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills. As long as a bill with fiscal implications passes out of House committee of jurisdiction by April 21st and makes its way into the Ways & Means, Taxes or Capital Investment Committees, it would have until the end of the session to be heard and passed to the House floor for a vote.

A few weeks ago, the Governor put forward his suggested budget proposal with regard to the surplus. The surplus is mainly made up of one-time money which is in the State coffers due to an economy that is currently performing well. You can find that proposal here. Last week, the House GOP leadership announced their proposal on how to spend the budget surplus. It consisted mainly of tax cuts and one-time expenditures for our ailing transportation system. In some areas, the budget goes beyond the surplus money and cuts into existing programs’ budgets to increase funding in other areas. You can read about their budget targets here and look at the spreadsheet of their proposal here. The areas where you see a negative number is a decrease to current funding. The DFL controlled Senate will soon come out with their proposal.

As we move forward, the House committees will put together bills using their budget targets and the Senate will do the same. Both bodies will move those bills out of their respective chambers and will have to go to conference committees to work out the differences. Last year we set the two year budget for the State; this year the budget bills will decide how to use the surplus funds instead. Some committees may also choose to change last year’s budget provisions to move money somewhere else. This can always be tough as those dollars have been dedicated to programs that have already made plans and have gotten underway. So in the next few weeks, you will see a lot of activity in committees that are putting budgets together. Remember, we only have six weeks left before we are required to adjourn.

Committee Business

With the final committee deadline last week, Government Operations & Elections Committee heard a variety of bills but didn’t have as many late nights. While this committee has finished most of its business, we will meet again to deal with some appointments, the omnibus pension bill and may meet for some informational hearings on individual bills.

Higher Education Policy and Finance met twice last week and finished its policy work last Friday. This week we will meet to discuss the budget and policy omnibus bill that Chair Bud Nornes will roll out. With the House GOP budget the Higher Education Finance & Budget Committee received a $0 target. That means they were not given any of the supplemental budget to work with. With a $900 million+ surplus, this is very disappointing. Minnesota’s higher education system is an economic engine for the state and is facing gaps in funding while students are facing a heavy debt load. We can do better than a $0 target. The Governor’s proposed supplemental budget contains at least a $70 million increase of funding to the MnSCU system and the University of Minnesota, as well as a large portion of the bonding bill dedicated to higher education asset preservation. I am anxiously awaiting the Senate’s proposal.

Property Tax & Local Government Division also completed its policy work last Friday. We will continue to hear finance related bills in this committee for the next few weeks. Chair Steve Drazkowski has laid over numerous bills for an omnibus policy and finance division report to be delivered to the full Tax Committee. We have not yet heard if and when that proposal will be put together.  

Constituent and Organizations Visits

Last week was filled with organizations making their annual trip to the Capitol to visit with their legislators. It is a great way for constituents to connect and share the issues and specific bills that they care about with their legislator. I met with constituents visiting with a variety of groups, including Pharmacy Day, Transportation Forward, AFSCME and a few constituents to talk about individual bills. I also met with MNSCU Chancellor Rosenstone to discuss higher education funding, as well as Chair Paul Torkelson from the House Capital Investment Committee to discuss St. Louis Park’s bonding proposals.

We only have six weeks left of the legislative session for this year. Bills will be moving quickly in committees, on the House and Senate floor and in conference committees. I will try my best to keep you up to date. If you would like more information on the House legislative action, I would highly suggest signing up for House Public Information Services’s “Session Daily” here. It really is a great resource on daily activity in the House. Please feel free to contact me if you have specific questions on bills or issues. As the pace quickens, e-mail is the best way to get a hold of me. Thank you to all those who have contacted me to date.  I am doing my best to keep up with the volume.

Have a great week!