April 01, 2016

Minnesota Weekly Legislative Update: 04/01/2016

The first of three Minnesota legislative committee deadlines arrives tonight at midnight. By the first deadline, a committee must act favorably upon a bill in its body of origin or the bill does not move forward. As a result, committees met frequently with long agendas to ensure their priority bills meet the deadline. Apart from the House’s passage of the Real ID bill early in the week, neither body heard bills during floor sessions to give more time to committees. There are only seven weeks remaining in the 2016 legislative session.

Real ID

On Tuesday, the House debated the Real ID bill passed last week by the Senate, SF1646. The House voted overwhelmingly to repeal the laws that prevented the Department of Public Safety from planning for the implementation of Real ID. The Department will now have until April 14 to do research on the implementation of Real ID and to generate a report for the Legislature regarding the procedure and anticipated costs. On Thursday, Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law, enabling the Department to begin research.

Paid Family Leave

A bill that would create a paid family and medical leave insurance program, SF2558, authored by Senator Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport), was heard in the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee during the week. The bill would offer partial wage replacement and guaranteed time off related to pregnancy. Businesses with more than 21 employees would be required to participate in the program, while businesses with fewer than 21 employees would be able to participate voluntarily. The bill was amended to remove its medical leave section, which would have extended wage replacement to those who take time off to care for an ill family member. The bill was sent on to be heard before the Senate Finance Committee.                 

Buffers

The 2015 riparian buffer law continues to be the subject of committee hearings in both the House and Senate regarding clarifications to the law. This week, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee held a hearing on a bill that adds clarification language to the law regarding enforcement authorities and jurisdiction, determination of market value, and enrollment in federal and state conservation programs.

Upcoming Legislative Notes

With the second deadline coming at the end of next week, committees are expected to have another busy schedule of hearings. By the second deadline, next Friday, April 8, committees must act favorably on bills or companions that met the first deadline in the other house. By April 21, the third deadline, committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.

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