Update from the Capitol – January 2019
Jan. 8 marked the official beginning of the 2019 legislative session as all members of the House of Representatives were officially sworn into office. Throughout the next two years, Democrats will hold a majority in the House, while Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate. The makeup of this Legislature marks the first time in more than 100 years that Minnesota is home to the only divided Legislature in the country.
Likewise, the state Senate held an organizational meeting on the first day of session, swearing in one new member, Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), formally organizing the committee structure, and electing a new president of the Senate after the departure of Michele Fischbach. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) will now preside over that chamber.
Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flannagan, Attorney General Keith Ellison, State Auditor Julie Blaha, and Secretary of State Steve Simon were also sworn into office.
The administration and legislators wasted no time in getting to work on the important issues facing the state. In their first official action as leaders of the new House of Representatives, Speaker Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D-Golden Valley) released the caucus’ top 10 policy initiatives of 2019. Health care affordability, early childhood, and gun violence are expected to take center stage at the Capitol. Other key matters recommended for consideration include prescription drug pricing, K-12 education funding, universal paid family and medical leave, rural broadband internet expansion, and sexual harassment in the workplace. Other legislators expressed their interest in working on similar issues, including members of the minority, and members of the newly formed “New Republican Caucus,” a new, four-member coalition of House minority members compelled to organize to fight specifically for the guarantees of freedom from government oppression.
The state Senate also signaled its preferred policy undertakings for 2019. Issues set to receive much consideration by the upper body include tax conformity, mental health and health care, and child care provider shortages. Government waste is also the subject of a renewed focus at the Capitol.
Governor Walz, in his first address to legislators and the public, indicated a willingness to cooperate and work toward what is best for all Minnesotans in a bipartisan fashion not accomplished by the previous administrations of recent history. In that business-centric event, regulation, workforce development, and the achievement gap were prominent issues of discussion. Walz and his administration will deliver their first budget and policy proposal to the Legislature on Feb. 19. Legislators will begin more formally debating their policy initiatives in the coming weeks. All parties will look to the Minnesota Management and Budget February budget forecast in setting the stage for a successful 2019 legislative session.
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 over 300 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.