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

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Legislative Weekly Recap - April 18-24, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hello Everyone,

Last week the Ways & Means Committee took up the individual omnibus bills and referred them to the General Register (debate on the House floor). The House will have a floor session every day this week to hear those omnibus bills. They have been combined into three bills that will be heard and then matched up with the Senate bills. Those bills are: Higher Education & K-12 (which we are hearing on the House floor as I write); Agriculture, Environment & Jobs (which will be heard on Wednesday); Health and Human Services, State Government Finance & Public Safety (which will most likely be heard Wednesday or Thursday).

In the past, when there has been a supplemental budget bill, the individual committee approaches have been rolled into one bill. What is different this year is that those bills also include policy. A legislator that may support an individual budget proposal may not support the policy that has been included, which makes a decision on how to vote more difficult. There are distinct differences between the House, Senate and Governor’s proposals to spend the $900 million budget surplus. Those differences will be worked out in conference committees in the coming weeks. There are only four more weeks left in the session to complete that work.

Last week, the House met in floor session three times. These sessions were used to move bills between committees and were short to enable the Ways & Means Committee to finish its work. This week, floor sessions will be longer as individual bills and omnibus bills will be voted on. There are a few individual committees meeting this week to hear bills that missed deadlines.

Committee Business

Government Operations& Elections Committee met three times last week. On Tuesday, we heard confirmations for the Campaign Finance Board. Wednesday, we heard a bill that restructures the IRRRB (Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board) and on Thursday we heard a bill regarding state contracts. This committee will meet one more time to hear the pensions omnibus bill.

Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee is done with its work for this session unless a bill that missed deadline needs to be heard.

Last Wednesday, in Property Taxes and Local Government, we heard bills from around the state regarding tax increment financing (TIF). Once again, Chair 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 bills regarding property taxes and policy again this week.

Constituent and Organizations Visits

As session winds down to a close, fewer constituent groups are meeting with legislators. There are occasional rallies held by groups to express their viewpoints on issues or individual bills. Last Wednesday, I met with business leaders from the TwinWest Chamber to discuss tax relief and transportation. This week, on Tuesday, I will be attending a press conference with a group of DFL legislators to discuss racial economic disparities issues.

With four 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!