March 8 - 2019

"First Deadline" is coming up very quickly (midnight, March 15). "Big deal", you say?
Well, yes. This and all future scheduled deadlines actually are  a big deal to the bills' author(s) and anyone else who might be affected (one way or the other) by their proposed changes because if the deadline is not met, then the bill is dead - at least until next year. (But nothing is ever totally dead.

"First Deadline" means that the bill must have been passed out of all the policy committee(s) - in one of the bodies - if it is to continue on through the legislative process.  As you can imagine, this means that policy  committees are scrambling to get their bills heard and passed. 

It also means that gallons of coffee are being consumed. 

[FYI - The legislature's scheduled deadlines do not apply to the House committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Taxes, or Rules, nor to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules... in case you closely follow that sort of thing. ;-)  lol]
Walz Signs His First Bills
Governor Walz officially signed two bills into law this week.  One was a new bonding bill to fund $103 million for projects that were funded last year, but due to a lawsuit the funding for many of these clean-water projects had been held up. See, last year the legislature decided to use a specific account (LCCMR) for these projects. The use of that account was a new method of funding for this type of bonding project and was opposed by environmental groups. The new bill will now allow these projects to move forward with a new, more traditional source of funding.

The other bill Walz signed provides $13 million for the MnLARS system that has seen numerous issues over the last few years. The signing had a strong showing of bipartisan support, which could be a positive sign for those looking into the end of session... BUT that is still a loooong way off.  

Bills, Bills, Bills
Committees - especially in the House - have been extremely busy this week and the hectic schedule will carry over into next week as well. Numerous hearings have been pushed into the night, as House Chairs hold hearings on a number of different bills. 

Given their new majority this is not a particularly big surprise, as there is likely a built up demand among many DFLers to hear a number of bills that have not been brought to the forefront in recent session(s). These hearings are important because they can often highlight certain issues in bills - or conversely, gain supporters as more legislators hear from testifiers.

The late night committees and hearings are also a unique way for many of the new legislators to get a better understanding of how the process works and how they can be more effective in representing their districts during their time at the Capitol. 
House Seat 11B Special Election
The Republican primary for the House Seat 11B upcoming special election took place on Tuesday and the GOP endorsed candidate, Nathan Nelson, emerged victorious, with 88% of the vote. Nelson, a farmer and Clover Township Officer, will now face Tim Burkhardt (DFL) in the March 19th Special election. 

If Nelson wins, the Republicans will pick up one additional seat in the House. 
Top Legislative News 
What's Next?

The session will continue on its current fast pace while policy committees continue on with their numerous hearings. Finance Committees are also meeting, but a lot of their critical work is still happening behind the scenes for now. Watch for more about them in weeks to come. 

Looking down the road a bit, it seems that the gas tax and the provider tax will be significant  issues that could struggle to find resolve by the end of session.  The Governor has proposed a gas tax increase and plans to extend the existing provider tax, which was due to end. Both revenue  streams are needed in order to fully fund Walz's budget initiatives, but they face opposition within many in the GOP.

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

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