April 24, 2015

Minnesota Weekly Legislative Update: 04/24/2015

All week, both chambers and their respective finance committees have been working toward tonight’s third deadline of the session, by which committees must act favorably on major appropriation bills.

House

The House chamber saw its first two omnibus bills pass this week in two eight-plus hour sessions. HF4 (Kelly, (R) Red Wing), the GOP omnibus transportation proposal, passed by a vote of 73-59 on Tuesday with two amendments added on. The next day, the Jobs & Energy omnibus (HF843 - Garofalo, (R) Farmington) passed by a vote of 73-56 with several minor amendments added on.

On the calendar for Friday are both the Environment and the State Government Finance omnibus bills, and the House will meet on a Saturday for the first time to take up the K12 Education Finance omnibus bill. Still to come next week are the Agriculture Finance, Health & Human Services, and Tax omnibus bills before the legislature heads into further policy legislation and conference committees.

Senate

The Finance Committee in the Senate forwarded several major omnibus finance bills to the floor this week that were heard by the body. On Monday, Senators passed their omnibus State Government Finance and Veterans bill (SF888 Saxhaug (DFL) Grand Rapids), as well as the Higher Education finance bill (SF5 Bonoff (DFL) Minnetonka). On Tuesday, they passed several smaller bills, including avian flu emergency relief, the DWI omnibus bill and the Right to Try Act, regarding exploratory treatment for terminally ill patients.

On Wednesday, they passed their expansive omnibus bill on agriculture, environment and economic development. On Thursday evening, they unanimously passed Colton’s Law, which requires electronic monitoring and supervision upon release from prison to protect the public from recently released inmates. They also heard both the policy and finance omnibus bills from the Judiciary Committee, the former which included a controversial gun amendment and felon voting rights. They passed 39-22 and 44-0 respectively. The Health & Human Services finance bill is on the calendar for Friday afternoon, and unlike the House, the Senate will not convene on the weekend.

Upcoming Legislative Notes

Looking ahead to next week, expect the House and Senate to focus on hearing their newly amended omnibus bills in floor sessions. As they continue to pass them, they will begin appointing conference committees who will work to align the different versions of omnibus bills from each body. The Senate will unveil its tax bill on Monday, and take amendments and testimony on Tuesday.

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