Check out Brad's Blog for detailed information on legislative activity
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What is happening at the Capitol?
Three days left in the session, and top leadership does not have an agreement on the overall two-year state budget. As time keeps ticking, the chances of the conference committees completing the ten budget bills and getting the bills passed on the House and Senate floors before the stroke of midnight on Monday night diminishes with each hour without a budget deal. Read more. As referenced in the last "Read more" article link, the Senate is fast-tracking a bill - SF2032 - which in the event of an impasse on a budget agreement, the state government would be funded at the current forecast levels until June 30, 2021. This provision would prevent a government shutdown until after the 2021 legislative session. The Senate considers the bill an insurance policy that would keep state parks open, guards in state prisons and prevent 35,000 state workers from being furloughed. Read more from the Senate. However, I believe Minnesotans expect the House, Senate and Governor to get the job done!
The media discusses the current negotiations as taking place in a "Cone of Silence," which is not a transparent process. However, state leaders stopped flinging barbs and accusations at each other and now avoid talking with the media. Most take this as a sign that the leaders are seriously working at reaching an agreement, but whether they can bridge their significant differences is another matter. Read Brad's Blog to learn the origin of the "Cone of Silence" and his perspective on what is currently happening at the Capitol.
The education conference committee met every day this week. Without an education spending target, the committee is very limited in what can be accomplished. They did agree on some identical or technical-only policy provisions. The House wanted to expand deliberations on the more controversial policy, where a provision was only in the House or Senate bill, or policy that was in both bills but was significantly different. Read more. The Senate was not on board, wanting to wait to discuss those provisions in the broader context when the spending target was known. That left Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), co-chair of the conference committee, concerned that with time running out in the session, the Senate would prefer to let much of the dense policy in the House omnibus bill fall to the wayside in the final hours of the legislative session. SEE supports local control and no unfunded mandates, so new policy at the state level should be limited and carefully vetted.
The Editorial Board at the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper has an interesting article reflecting on how a divided government, as Minnesota has with the DFL Governor and House, and a Republican Senate, could work well together to curb excesses but also notes that saying 'no' won't lead to budget deal at the Capitol.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Schools for Equity in Education
Director of Communications and Community Outreach