February 1 - 2019
 
Just when things are finally starting to pick up some steam...a polar vortex hits and slows some of the work. Committees began to have hearings and discussions on real legislative topics and bills, vs just introductions and overviews. The cold weather certainly put a damper on some of the proceedings, the Senate canceled all hearings on Wednesday, the House proceeded as usual. It was an odd feeling at the capitol as there were much fewer people roaming the halls, though there was an increase it little kids as parents brought children to work with them, which was fun.  So far this session everything is still in the honeymoon stage and no major conflicts have erupted...yet.

  • Filing Taxes will not be easy this session
  • Special election to be held on Tuesday  
  • Legalizing Marijuana could be in trouble

Revenue Dept Offers 2019 Tax Primer
We learned last week that the legislature will not be taking up tax conformity until later in session, but this week we learned a little more, when Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly told the House Taxes Committee what tax filers can expect to be different this year.

Special Election Update
Stu Lourey will face off against  R ep. Jason Rarick, ( GOP) and John "Sparky" Birrenbach, ( 'Legal Marijuana Now' party), in the 11th District special election.on Feb 5th. This  open Senate seat was created when Governor Walz appointed Sen. Tony Lourey to be his Dept. of Human Services Commissioner.  If Rarick wins next week, the Republican's margin in the MN Senate would expand from to two seats - and  another special election would be held, to fill his 11B House sea t. this race has spli some in labor as Rarick a member if IBEW has picked up some trade endorsements.

Though the election on tuesday will not change the majority in the Senate a two seat margin sounds MUCH better to Majority Leader Gazelka.  But a special election in February is certainly going to have pretty low turnout numbers and either candidate could pull it out.  
Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
This topic quickly moved its way to (or near) the front of the line this session and is among the more contentious things the legislature will be tackling. Early this week, DFLers  Sen. Franzen Rep. Freiberg introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis.  Last week, a different bill was introduced, which would let voters make the decision in the 2020 election.
 
Bill Introduced Monday To Legalize Recreational Pot In Minnesota

Minnesota Introduces Bill for Marijuana Legalization 
Committee Deadlines
The House and Senate released committee deadlines this week and they are as Follows. These deadline indicate when bills have to meet certain requirements to still be considered alive*. Bills have to be out of all policy committees in one body by the first deadline. They have to be through all policy committees in both bodies by second deadline and out of finance divisions by the third deadline.

1st Deadline March 15th
2nd Deadline March 29th
3rd Deadline April 12th

*Nothing at the Capitol is ever totally dead until the final gavel.
Top Legislative News 
Here are some of the many topics being discussed at the Capitol this past week - or will soon be:

ERA & Abortion Rights

Seniors: Long-Term Care

Opioids


 
What's Next?

With committees now hearing bills the proess will begin to gain speed.  Agendas will fill up, amendments will be offered floor session may even get a tad more exciting.  But until the February budget forecast comes out much if this is will still be nominal work. 

Policy committees will work hearing bills and moving them on to other policy committees orfinance divisions. Finance and tax committee will hear smaller less conroversial bills.

The Governors budget is to be released on the 19th and whil that will certainly show a number of his goals expect additionl policy suggestions to follow as well.

I hope you all were able to stay out of the cold this week.  Thank you, as always, for reading. Please excuse any typos or errors as my faithful assitant Lynda fled to warmer locale for a vacation.

Warmest Regards, (literally) 
 
Cap O'Rourke
President, O'Rourke Strategic Consulting 

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