January 25 - 2019
 
It was another fairly slow week at the legislature. Oh, there were a number of press conferences held - to announce introduced legislation - but there have still not been too many hearings on major bills as of yet. Meanwhile, committees are still going through overviews and the Governor is still trying to staff up, put together a budget, and deal with the implications of the partial Federal shutdown (which ended today, but more on that later.)

The most notable news to come out this week is that, while the legislature will address tax conformity this session, any potential legislation resulting from those efforts will not happen on time to be useful to Minnesotans this tax season. 
Filing taxes this year will not be easy
Both the House and Senate have said they will not pursue a deal on tax conformity until later in session, which means for this year's tax filings (2018), the state's income tax forms will not align with the federal changes approved by Congress in 2017 - and for many Minnesotan's the process could be quite challenging. 

This 'Session Daily' story explains pretty well: 
Federal Shutdown causing growing issues at State
President Trump put an end to the Federal Government's partial shutdown earlier today. Good news, yes - but the impact it has had on  Minnesota's government might be felt for a little while longer, as  state programs and federal employee households work to get back to normal. 

Meanwhile at the MN Capitol, Legislation had been introduced to allow for loans to help with Minnesota's furloughed federal employees and some legislators  even offered their own compromise  to end the shutdown. Let's hope we don't have to dig that paperwork out again three weeks from now. Feb 15th is the deadline the President has given Congress, to work out a deal on illegal immigration. 
Gun Legislation Returns
Proponents of more restrictive gun legislation have introduced a number of bills that they are hopeful will pass this session. The proposals would extend background checks to include private sales and would also allow for families or law enforcement to request that a person's permit be rescinded if they feel the permit holder poses a danger to him/herself or others.

Special Election Update
On Tuesday, DFL primary voters determined that Stu Lourey  will face off against
R ep. Jason Rarick, the  GOP's endorsed candidate, in the 11th District special election. John "Sparky" Birrenbach,  from the 'Legal Marijuana Now' party, will also be on the on Feb 5th ballot. 

If Rarick wins next week, the Republican's margin in the MN Senate would expand from one seat to two - and we would then need to have  another special election to fill his 11B House sea t. 

This 11th district open Senate seat was created by Sen. Tony Lourey's appointment as Governor Walz's Dept. of Human Services Commissioner
Top Legislative News 
Here are some of the many topics being discussed at the Capitol this past week - or will soon be:

Mental Health
More kids than ever need mental health services, members hear during joint meeting

#MeToo

Recreational Marijuana / Should Minnesota voters decide?

Gambling


And some bills, such as these, have started to get (or will soon get) hearings:

What's Next?

With the federal shutdown now over, MN politics and legislation can begin to refocus on the more usual types of things session is about. 

Watch for more hearings to begin taking place on key bills very soon. That's when things start to get good: the debates and negotiations are fun to watch. Really. If you have a day off sometime, come down to the Capitol and watch the sausage being made. It's quite entertaining, when a "hot topic" is being hammered out.  Or, you can just keep reading my newsletters from the comfort of your home/office. 

As session progresses, my eye will be on the leaders, to see how each are managing their new roles. Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Gazelka will need to manage expectations within their caucuses and Governor Walz needs to release his budget and work with the legislature to address areas of disagreement. 

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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