March 23 - 2018

The week of 'First Deadline' at the capitol is always crazy, as policy committees are motoring legislation through the system: legislators are running between committees they serve on and presenting bills they are authoring; staff are pulling their hair out a little bit; lobbyists are trying to keep up with agendas and amendments; plus with the shortened 2018 session, large groups of people are all converging on the Capitol at the same time to attend their respective annual "Day on the Hill" events, trying to get meetings with their districts' legislators.

Because of this "rush" (which looks a little more like orchestrated chaos) few bills of major significance made much news this week, but these were some highlights ... 

MNLars Preliminary Funding Moves Forward

Updating DWI Laws 

Gun Legislation Stalls

Ag Changing Nitrogen Rules
MNIT & MNLars Update
After a number of very contentious hearings in both the House and the Senate, then floor votes, and then conference committee, it looks as if a partial funding bill to continue to fix the failing MNLars system is being sent to the Governor's desk to be signed. Both bodies approved language (with some controversial language removed) and sent it to Dayton's office. This is still the first step in this debate and only provides short term funding to allow current contractors to continue their work to fix the system (although some have already stepped away due to funding uncertainty). The remaining money needed will still have to be allocated later this session and will be a significant piece in end-of-session machinations.

Despite national calls and increased state support for increased gun control measures, nothing will be passed this session. There was a hearing in an earlier House committee but the bills were ultimately tabled and not acted upon after that hearing. In order for the bill to still be "alive" in the legislative process the committee would need to have moved the bill out of at least one of the bodies by today.  As a result, it appears as if there will be no changes to current gun purchasing measures in Minnesota this year.

Lawmakers are looking to update MN DWI Laws to makes sure that anyone prohibited from operating a motor vehicle due to DWI convictions is ALSO prohibited from operating snowmobiles. This legislation was s purred by a recent tragedy on a MN lake, where a young boy was tragically killed when he was struck by a snowmobile that was driven by a man with DWI convictions and prohibited from diving a car at the time.

DWI Changes

Nitrogen Rules Change
The Mn Dept of Ag is working on groundbreaking new rule changes that will affect our farmers across the state and is designed to protect groundwater in Minnesota.  You may not read about this in local press but that is only because local press doesn't hang around the Half Time Rec in March. This rule change still has many steps to go but expect local farmers to be paying close attention to the end result and its impacts.

Other Noteworthy Bills
Here are a few of this week's more "interesting", but perhaps less publicized bill introductions:


These are this year's session deadlines:

1st deadline - March 22, 2018 at midnight
2nd deadline - March 29, 2018 at midnight
3rd deadline - April 20, 2017 at midnight 

This means that:
Bills must be out of all policy committees in ONE of the two bodies by 1st deadline.
Bills must be out of all policy committees in BOTH bodies by the 2nd deadline.
Bills must be passed out of finance divisions in both bodies by 3rd deadline.

The deadlines do not apply to the House committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration, nor to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Administration. Any bill that is in one of these committees - in both bodies - after 3rd deadline is then "still alive". 

It should be noted that a bill is never really dead until final adjournment. Any bill failing to meet deadlines can always be revived by the rules committee.

Combined Legislative Meeting Calendar

What's Next?

Next week policy committees will continue to meet in order the get bills that made it through First Deadline heard and passed so that they make it to Second Deadline.  

Additionally, we will see Finance Committees begin to ramp up their work to pass whatever funding initiatives will be included in supplemental budget recommendations.  Caucus leaders have not given much indication about their plans for the supplemental budget and, as I've said many times, how the Federal Conformity issue is handled will determine funding capability for everything else.

Next week is the last week before the Easter/Passover recess begins. Lawmakers will return to their districts for a week to rest up and hear from constituents about what they expect from the legislature.


Cap O'Rourke

Cap O'Rourke
Lobbyist / President
O'Rourke Strategic Consulting

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | |
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