Soon after adding a controversial amendment that would affect potential driver’s licenses for undocumented residents, the omnibus public safety conference committee approved its final report Tuesday morning.
No timetable was given for action on the House and Senate floors.
The conference committee report to HF896/ SF803* — approved via roll-call vote along party lines— calls for $2.25 billion in spending, an $85 million increase over projected base, nearly the midpoint between increases put forth by the House ($113.27 million) and Senate ($60.68 million). However, the number is far below the almost $262.2 million increase proffered by Gov. Mark Dayton.
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The agreement came one day after Dayton made an offer to the Legislature that would have dropped his total increase to $235.65 million, including $84.15 million for courts, about four times the amount submitted by conferees.
However, the other, would prohibit the Public Safety Department, “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary … from adopting any final rule that amends, conflicts with, or has the effect of modifying requirements in Minnesota Rules, parts 7410.0100 to 7410.0800.”
Rep. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) noted the intent is to prevent the issuance of driver’s licenses for undocumented residents.
According to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, “An administrative rule is a general statement adopted by an agency to make the law it enforces or administers more specific or to govern the agency's organization or procedure. … An agency may adopt a rule only after the legislature has enacted a law granting this authority to the agency.”
Among the major differences in Real ID compliance bills is whether a current rule against issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented residents should be put into law.
Two DFLers spoke against the agreement.
“This bill is the wrong approach,” said Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center). In part, she noted that without adequate funding, the Corrections Department would likely need to lay off more than 200 employees, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension could be forced to cut 180 employees and 40-50 public defenders could be eliminated.
Calling the bill “wholly inadequate” and “disrespectful to the judiciary,” Latz said it would lead to longer wait times for Minnesotans seeking justice, workers in prisons would be less safe and it would take longer for the BCA to process evidence in criminal cases. “This is all being done on an altar of some massive tax cut that somehow is going to solve all our state’s problems.”
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Introduced in March 2017 by Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights), HF2470/SF2259, aims to stop the cycle of opioid misuse and addiction through education.
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