February 15 - 2019

Gov. Walz, along with both House and Senate leaders, held a press conference early this week to announce new legislative deadlines designed to bring this session to an orderly conclusion. To be clear, there are typically target deadlines put in place for each session ... and yet, everything seems to come down to the final hours. We'll have to wait and see if this year is any different. 

Here are the three additional deadlines:
>>  By May 1st the House and Senate will pass all major finance bills off their respective floors and leadership will appoint conference committees.
>>  By May 6th the governor, Senate majority leader and House speaker will provide fiscal targets to the chairs of conference committees on major finance bills.
>>  By May 13th conference committee chairs must provide completed conference committee reports to the house of origin.


Governor Walz began to lay out some of his priorities for Minnesota's estimated $50 billion budget and spending plan, as did Republican lawmakers. It's no surprise that they are already divided in many areas, about what each side feels are priorities.

Minnesota's 2020 Presidential Candidate
Senator  Amy Klobuchar announced her 2020 Presidential bid last Sunday from Boom Island, in the middle of - what else? .... a snow storm. As you can imagine, the announcement made her a frequent guest this week, on a variety of TV and radio news and talk shows. Her first immediate obstacle has been (and will be) to defend against accusations by former staff, that she is not the "MN Nicest" person to work for. Time will tell if that reputation proves to be too much to overcome. 

Musical Chairs
Former state Rep (now MN Senator), Jason Rarick, officially left his House seat on Tuesday to occupy his newly-won D11 Senate seat.This leaves the House short by one member until a  special election can be held, to fill his vacant 11B seat. Gov. Walz has called a special election to take place on March 19th with a primary on the 5th, if it is needed.

Enbridge pipeline
The first major policy test Governor Walz faces may be how he handles the proposed Enbridge pipeline. Enbridge successfully petitioned the Public Utilities Commission last year to get approval for replacing the existing oil pipeline with a new, upgraded line. This proposal has brought opposition from many, for fear of the potential environmental impacts that would occur if a spill were to take place. More broadly, many see this as a continued policy of reliance on fossil fuels and they want the state to take stronger steps away from such policies. Governor Walz this week said his Commerce Dept would continue an appeal that was started by Governor Dayton, about the definition of need for this project. Many in the GOP soundly criticized this move and are asking for swift approval of this line.  

Meeting Our MN Commissioners
The people leading our state agencies - and appointed by the Governor - can have a significant impact on the policies that are created and enforced in Minnesota. Sometimes these people fly under the radar. Whenever there is an opportunity, I will try to link to stories or interviews that give a glimpse of who some of these people are.

This week, Dept of Public Safety Commissioner, John Harrington, gave an in-depth interview on a wide range of topics, with MPR's Angela Davis. It is certainly worth a listen to hear his views on topics such as school safety, public safety and working with our immigrant communities. 

Top Legislative News 
Here are some of the many topics being discussed at the Capitol this past week - or will soon be:

Child Marriages

Gay Conversion Therapy

What's Next?

We've finally reached that magical point in session where there is A LOT going on; far too much to report on, as a matter of fact.
Things are moving very fast; bills are getting hearings and still more bills are being introduced.

Keep in mind that MANY (most) of the bill introductions will never proceed through the process (at least not this year) - which means - thankfully - that we can keep our focus on only the proposals that begin to get committee attention and hearings. These are the items that by end of session, have at least some possibility of becoming law.      

Governor Walz will release his budget next week. While some may oppose certain portions, I expect both sides to say they will wait to hear what is actually in the bills in committee before offering significant support or opposition; though any tax increase proposals will likely be met with swift opposition from the GOP.

Warm Regards, 
 
Cap O'Rourke
President, O'Rourke Strategic Consulting 

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