January 4 - 2019

The 2019 MN Legislative session is about to get underway (next Tuesday, January 8th), but before we dive into what the major issues will be this year it is important to understand WHO will there, making the decisions: there will be a new Governor, including a new Cabinet; a new DFL majority in the House, with first time Speaker, Hortman; and the GOP will continue to control the Senate - by 2* seats. 

Since the November election all three bodies have been working hard to establish their structures before heading into the new session. This includes setting committees as well as naming chairs and membership for the caucuses. For the Governor, it means filling cabinet positions and hiring new staff. 

As of today, both the House and Senate have set their committee structures and Governor Walz has already named 22 cabinet members. 
*See below about an impending special election.
Governor Walz Filling Seats
Governor-Elect, Tim Walz, will be sworn in as Minnesota's 41st governor next  Monday.  One of the first duties of any incoming Governor  is to assemble a cabinet of commissioners  who will assist them in setting, passing and implementing their agenda. The Governor has 24 cabinet positions to fill and this process can take some time to complete. He has already announced all but two names Commissioners  can serve as soon as they are appointed BUT the Senate does have the ability to confirm or deny confirmation  (Dayton, Pawlenty and Ventura all had commissioners denied confirmation during their terms).   

Cabinet Positions (bold has been named):
** This appointment creates a need for a special election to fill Lourey's Senate seat. State  Rep. Jason Rarick and Justin Krych, Chair of the 8th Congressional District Republican Party of Minnesota will battle for the GOP endorsement.  Michelle Lee (who most recently ran in the DFL primary for the 8th congressional seat),  will face  Stu Lourey for the DFL nod.  Stu is hoping to replace his father ... who replaced HIS mother,  former Sen.  Becky Lourey, in this 11th District MN Senate seat. 
Committee Assignments at the Capitol
With the House flipping to the Democrats in the November election, there will now be all new committee chairs and committee assignments. The House will have new leadership, as Rep. Melissa Hortman will become Speaker of the House and Rep. Ryan Winkler will serve as Majority Leader. Kurt Daudt will lead the House GOP caucus once again this session, with Rep. Anne Neu serving in a leadership position.

One interesting note is that the DFL House will split its judiciary and public safety jurisdictions among three committees - two full budget divisions and a corrections subcommittee - to better reflect their criminal justice reform agenda.

Despite having only one new member, the Senate will also see some changes in its committee structure: given Michelle Fischbach's departure, Jeremy Miller will now serve as President; Sen. Pratt will head the Jobs Committee; Sen. Anderson will take over Higher Ed; and Sen. Nelson's committee will include K12 Finance AND Policy.

Budget Forecast
One of the more important pre-session developments to date was the recent release of the state's budget forecast (because of course, MONEY is what everything else is dependent upon).  Minnesota Management and Budget released the 2018 November Budget and Economic Forecast. This information sets the table for prospective legislative proposals to be weighed from a monetary perspective. 

What's Next?

With Session starting next week everything is already in "full steam ahead" mode at the Capitol. That being said, given that we'll have a new governor and new House leadership we can expect some 
things to start a little slower, as everyone figures out how to navigate their new roles. 

good indicator of key legislative priorities from the House and Senate will be evident in the first 5 or 10 bills introduced, as these are typically high priority bills and will have support of leadership.

Every legislative session in unique, with new issues, players and dynamics. I try to give a brief overview of how things are playing out in St. Paul in this weekly newsletter and I appreciate the feedback I get from some regular readers. Feel free to share with others that may be interested in what is happening at the Capitol this session!

Have a Happy New Year!

Cap O'Rourke

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

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | cap@orourkesc.com | www.orourkesc.com/
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