March 15 - 2019

As we discussed last week, "First Deadline" is HERE and by midnight tonight,  
bills in progress must have been passed out of all the policy committee(s) - in one of the bodies. If not, then the bill is "dead" and will not continue on. But as everyone at the Capitol knows - nothing is ever really dead.  

Amid all the ongoing hustle and bustle of committee hearings and bill movement there were a few more notable issues that happened this week, with regards to the bigger picture: The Senate began drawing more differences between their positions and those of Governor Walz; and healthcare, guns and marijuana all were hot topics of discussion and all three put a huge spotlight on the very stark differences between the Governor and some in the legislature.   
Senate Passes Reinsurance
The Senate passed a reinsurance bill this week to help lower healthcare costs. The bill got "yes" votes from both DFL and GOP members but Governor Walz weighed in, stating that he is not in favor of this bill. Healthcare costs have been and will remain a significant issue for many voters but elected officials continue to struggle with how best to get them down. 

Reinsurance uses state and federal funds to pay insurance companies so they can limit the costs to participants with very high medical costs. Governor Walz's position is that it is a not a long term solution. This issue will set the debate-tone around the larger issue of healthcare costs, which is almost guaranteed to be one of the major end-of-session sticking points. 

Senate Shoots Down Recreational Marijuana Legalization 
The Senate judiciary committee held a hearing this week regarding the potential legalization of recreational marijuana. Ultimately, the bill did not have the votes to pass but it was a very curious hearing (and I've seen everything over the years). The fact that the GOP led Senate was opposed to this is not surprising but the manner in which the bill was defeated was. 

Typically a caucus may just choose not to hear certain bills ... which has been the strategy for many of the Gun control bills. In this case however, they heard the bill and then, after defeating multiple other procedural choices, voted it down on a party line vote. This is likely a move to draw a clear distinction to Governor Walz who supports this measure. 

Meeting our MN Commissioners
The people appointed by the Governor to lead our state agencies 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 link to stories or interviews that give a glimpse into who some of these people are.

This week, we feature a story featuring Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner, Sarah Strommen. 

Special Election
The special election to fill House Seat 11B - between Nathan Nelson (GOP) and Tim Burkhardt (DFL) is coming up next Tuesday, March 19th. We'll let you know next week, what transpires. 
Top Legislative News 

Going Green


School Safety

What's Next?

Even though the first deadline is behind us, the policy committees will still be active trying to get more policy provisions in an effort to meet the 2nd deadline, which is in just two weeks.  

After that, all of the focus will turn to the finance committees. Expect the Senate and House GOP caucuses to draw more and more differences between their priorities and those of Governor Walz and DFLers.  

I hope you have have a fantastic weekend filled with bagpipes, beer, good friends and cheer!

Cap O'Rourke
President, O'Rourke Strategic Consulting 

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | |
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