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

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Legislative Weekly Recap - April 11-17, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hello Everyone,

Last week House committees finished up their work on their individual omnibus bills dealing with policy and finance. This week, the Ways & Means Committee will take up the individual omnibus bills and then move them to the House floor. “Omnibus” is a word you might hear often in the coming weeks. A bill becomes an “omnibus bill” when many policy or finance provisions relating to a specific topic are combined into one piece of legislation to be debated as one bill on the House floor. For example, the legislation passed from the Tax Committee is usually the “omnibus tax bill”; it contains many tax-related bills authored by members from around the state, but they are all rolled into one tax bill for debate and voting up or down on the floor. An important thing to note is that, in Minnesota, our House and Senate rules require all bills to be single subject. So, for instance, you could not have a bill relating purely to Agriculture in the Education Omnibus bill.

Floor session will become increasingly busy as these omnibus bills are heard on the House floor. We will also hear individual bills that have made it through the committee process that are now on the general register waiting action by the full House. Both the House and the Senate have set their budget targets. As you can see from the charts I link to below, there are differences between the House, Senate and Governor’s proposals to spend the $900M surplus money. You can see differences between the House GOP targets and the Governor’s budget here. The Senate’s budget targets are in the chart link here. Those differences will be worked out in conference committees in the coming weeks. There are only five more weeks left in the session to complete the work.

Committee Business

Government Operations & Elections Committee did not meet last week as the majority of its work was complete by the April 8th policy deadline. This week, the committee will meet twice to wrap up some loose ends. On Tuesday, we will meet to confirm two individuals who have been appointed by the Governor to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board. Then on Wednesday, we will hear bills that missed policy deadlines. They will need to be sent to the House Rules Committee in order to move on this session.

Higher Education Policy and Finance met twice last week and finished its budget and policy work. With a $0 target for its budget, the Higher Education Omnibus bill dealt only with policy. It will be heard in the House Ways & Means Committee this week before heading to the House floor. I authored an amendment to the Higher Education Omnibus bill in committee that would allow the Office of Higher Education to utilize funds a few months early to administer a new program to students. The program is a pilot project that provides financial assistance to students enrolled in qualifying career and technical programs at MNSCU two-year colleges. Students can complete the program within two years or less and find employment in a high-demand occupation. You can learn about the program here. You can read more about the Higher Education Omnibus Bill by clicking the link to Session Daily here.

Last week, in Property Taxes and Local Government, we continued to hear finance and property tax related bills. Chair Steve Drazkowski has laid over numerous bills for an omnibus policy and finance division report to be delivered to the full Tax Committee. But, we have yet to hear if and when that proposal will be put together. We will be meeting again to hear similar bills this week.

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 folks here for Social Workers Day, the Service Employee International Union (SEIU), the American Pediatrics Association, the Minnesota Retailers Association and RESOLVE (a group advocating for gestational surrogacy). On Tuesday I attended a press conference to show support for Planned Parenthood, there is a bill moving through the House to take away their Title X funding. This funding provides prenatal care, breast exams and birth control among other services for tens of thousands of Minnesota women. On Wednesday, I attended the annual OutFront Rally in support of the LGBT community. Last Tuesday, I also had the pleasure of hosting a former colleague from Hopkins High School for the day.

Road Construction Season

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced their projects for this year’s road construction season. There are a few projects in the West Metro that you may be interested in. Among those projects are the continued work on Hwy. 100 as well as the start of construction on Hwy. 169. You can read about the projects here.

With five weeks left of the legislative session bills will be moving quickly in committees, on the House and Senate floor and in conference committees. 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!