February 8 - 2019

As committees really began hearing bills this week in earnest, the session definitely moved into full swing. Bills related to opioid abuse, hands free driving and sexual assault definitions have all begun moving through the process. 

Governor Walz will formally release his budget in a little over a week but he is already sending some signals of what will be included, such as broad band investment and more money for MnLars.

GOP gets a win
Rep Jason Rarick won the special election held in SD11 on Tuesday. This win expands the GOP caucus to a two seat majority and gives majority Leader Gazelka a little more breathing room on key issues this session. The district had been trending more red in the last few elections and with the labor community split in the rac e, (Rarick is an IBEW member), it was not a big surprise that this seat flipped.

Next, there will be another special election to fill the House seat held by Rarick. 
Governor Walz is asking the legislature to include MORE money for the failing MnLars system this session. Over $100 million has already been spent on upgrades and fixes to the system that tracks vehicle licenses and registrations, but Walz says more money is still needed in order to simply maintain the current system.  

Voting Rights
Proponents are pushing legislation this session that would restore voting rights to those with a criminal past, once they have completed their full sentence, including probation. At a rally earlier this week Gwen Walz, the wife of Governor Walz, spoke to a crowd in support of these measures. The House has indicated they are likely to pass the measure but it will face very stiff opposition in the GOP controlled Senate, where Chairman Limmer is not sure if the bill will even be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee this session.

CWD in Deer could be major issue
As Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) continues to spread among Minnesota's and Wisconsin's deer herds, officials are warning that it should be considered a Public Health concern; not simply a wildlife management concern. While no person is known to have become sick from CWD its similarities to mad cow disease - which can be transmitted to humans - has many warning that CWD could make the same type of leap to people in Minnesota.

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

Minnesota has a lot on the line in 2020 census

Assisted Living
'Granny cam' legislation moves forward ...

And some bills, such as these, have started to get (or will soon get) hearings:
What's Next?

As session progresses, there are going to be lots of hearings, with lots of bills, and lots of amendments.  

For those following specific legislation, this stage of session is very important because bills with many committee stops need the time to make it through the gauntlet of hearings ahead of them. The se committees are where some of the real work is done to make bills better, through debate and amendments. It is not always exciting or entertaining, but it is important and is truly is a key part of the legislative process.

Expect more nuggets next week about what will be included in the Governors budget and more bills to go through the process. 

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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