The focus at the Capitol this week for the Minnesota Legislature has been budget negotiations among Governor Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Bakk and Speaker Daudt. As of Friday morning, only two targets have been released — an increase in base funding of $2.1 million for items in the judiciary omnibus bill and $166 million for higher education.
The House took up several smaller bills this week as the body waited for targets on the larger omnibus bills. Among the bills was the agriculture policy omnibus bill (HF1554 – Anderson P), which passed 102-25 on Monday. On Thursday, three bills relating to gambling were passed, the primary one relating to suspending the expansion of the Lottery to Internet and play-at-the-pump venues (SF229 – Sanders). A spokesperson for Governor Dayton has said the governor will allow the bill to become law without his signature. Finally, SF86 (Cornish) relating to license plate readers was passed 126-3 as amended by the House to allow for 30-day data retention, as compared to 90 days in the Senate. The bill will now go to conference committee to resolve differences before heading to the Governor.
In the Senate chamber this week, members took up a mix of non-controversial and omnibus bills. Among the long list were a campaign finance reform bill (SF205), the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources bill (SF698) and the Blue Alert system bill to aid in apprehending those who kill law enforcement officers (HF12). The omnibus agriculture bill (HF1554) debate took on a humorous tone when the members took up an amendment to fine bees for visiting plants more than five times. The amendment was eventually withdrawn, and the bill passed.
Upcoming Legislative Notes
Constitutionally mandated adjournment is coming up on May 18, 2015, but much work remains to be done with many budget targets unannounced as of Friday morning. Legislative leaders and the Governor will be working over the weekend to take up additional bills and meet in conference committees. If there is no final agreement on the budget this weekend, look for Governor Dayton to call a Special Session once an agreement is finalized.
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