Staples, Minn.,
17:22 PM

Update from the Capitol - February 2019

The 2019 legislative session’s fully upon us. As is the case every other February, legislators are now in the midst of preparing to debate and pass legislation to fund the state government for the next two years. And already, legislative priorities are becoming clear. While it’s still relatively early in the legislative session, the first deadline for action on bills is just more than a month away. Every legislative session, legislators establish these deadlines to help them manage the legislative process. The three deadlines, set for midnight on March 15 ,and 29 and April 12, help winnow the many legislative proposals a Legislature can contemplate. The first deadline marks the date by which committees must have acted upon bills for them to move forward, while the second is the same but in in the other legislative body. The last deadline is for all committees to have acted positively on major pieces of legislation, such as appropriations bills. This process ensures the Legislature is able to make best use of its time, and to help ensure only legislative proposals with substantial support move forward in the process.

Both the House and the Senate are beginning to fill committee agendas with bill hearings. As of early February, over 2,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced. This indicates well the initiatives legislators will pursue as priorities throughout the next four months. Insofar as nonbudget-related matters, legislators have spent time on rural child care grants, prison safety, children’s museum funds, paid family leave, recreational marijuana, new taxes on opioid drug makers, and “granny cam” legislation this session.

Hints too have began dropping about the governor’s policy initiatives this session. Because Gov. Tim Walz is a retired teacher, it is widely anticipated education matters will take center stage, along with health care and community prosperity. Increasing the state’s portion of education funding has been a theme of Walz’s campaign, which is likely to address property tax matters, too. Walz has also indicated he will push to restore local government aid to the early-2000 levels and push for funding for rural high-speed internet. Voting rights and the state’s troubled driver’s license and vehicle registration system are due to deserve additional attention.

In the coming days, Walz will release formally his policy and budget initiatives to the Legislature, who will in turn hold hearings with the governor’s leadership to gain further insight into the proposals. Following, Minnesota Management and Budget is set to release its revised budget forecast in late February or early March, helping to set the stage for final budget negotiations this session.

About Sourcewell

Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota’s nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with more than 300 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.