For more information contact: Leah Patton 651-296-9895
This week we spent long hours on the House floor debating budget bills. At the start of session, House and Senate leadership looked back at how session ended last year and decided that we needed to allow more time for discussion with Governor Dayton. Accordingly, the policy and finance bill deadlines were set almost twice as early this year than they usually are in an effort to allow for more time and transparency in the negotiation process. Below are brief overviews of each funding bill, and some additional information as well.
Environment and Natural Resources Bill
Last Thursday, the House passed our Environment bill on a bipartisan vote on 80-53. This bill worked to improve transparency in governmental agencies that manage our environment and natural resources.
Notable provisions in this bill included:
Transportation Finance Bill
One of the larger bills passed in the last week is the House Transportation bill, which passed last Friday on a vote of 76-54. This bill dedicated approximately $6 billion to building transportation infrastructure over the next 10 years. This bill does not raise the gas tax, and creates a dedicated Transportation Priorities Fund by reallocating $450 million in existing transportation-related tax revenue.
Provisions of note in the transportation bill include:
K-12 Education Finance Bill
The K-12 Education Finance bill passed last Friday on a vote of 75-54. This bill follows up on last biennium’s historic increases in education funding for Minnesota schools, and increases our school funding formula by 1.25% and 1.25% in 2018-19, which means $273 million in additional funding over what we were projected to spend. Overall, this bill provides a total of $1.1 billion in new funding for a total of $18.5 billion over the biennium.
In addition, this bill accomplishes the following:
Public Safety and Security Bill
On Monday, we passed the House Public Safety bill on a bipartisan vote of 94-37. This bill will make our communities safer by allocating $2.27 billion to law enforcement and our judicial system, which is a $112.5 increase over current spending.
Notable items from this bill include:
• Allocates new money to local law enforcement agencies to help them pay for officers’ training costs.
• Allows the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to replace an outdated predatory offender registry.
• Increases penalties against those who choose to participate in illegal protests that put people’s lives at risk.
• Provides new revenue to address domestic violence prevention and terrorism recruitment.
• Creates stronger penalties and longer supervision for convicted sexual predators.
• Dedicates funds for additional sex trafficking prevention grants.
• Increases penalties against those who possess and disseminate child pornography.
Legacy Funding Finance Bill
On Tuesday, we passed the House Legacy Funding Finance bill on a unanimous vote of 131-0! This bill allocated $527 million in constitutionally-designated funding towards four funds: parks and trails, arts and cultural heritage, outdoor heritage, and clean water. My provision for funding for the Minnesota Zoo was included, allocating $3.625 million over the biennium.
Higher Education Finance Bill
Also on Tuesday, the House passed our Higher Education Finance bill on a vote of 77-53. Provisions included an increase of $149.5 million in higher education funding for 2018-19. The U of M was funded at $1.1 billion, with Office of Higher Education being allocated $501 million.
Other items of note included:
Agriculture Finance Bill
On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Finance bill passed on unanimous vote of 134. This bill focused largely on preventing agricultural emergencies, funding pollinator research, and developing the next generation of farmers and agricultural innovators.
Specific provisions included:
• Funding for agriculture emergencies such as tractor rollovers, Avian Flu, and noxious weeds.
• Rapid response to plant pests and pathogens.
• Growing and diversifying our agro-economy, in areas like industrial hemp and biofuel.
• Continued support for production agriculture research, farm safety, Ag Education, and youth development.
• Creating a dedicated Pollinator Habitat and Research account.
Job Growth and Energy Affordability
Yesterday, the House passed the Job Growth and Energy Affordability bill with a vote of 76-55. This bill lowers the cost of energy for consumers by reducing unnecessary regulations, and provides new and better paying jobs for our tradesmen/women and displaced workers.
Specific provisions included:
State Government Finance Bill
Our State Government Finance bill also passed yesterday with a vote of 75-55. This bill was aimed at increasing accountability and transparency through reforming certain governmental agencies, as well as addressing priorities for our veteran community.
Specific provisions included:
Health and Human Services Finance Bill
The Health and Human Services Finance Bill passed today with a vote of 74-53. This bill is geared toward protecting our most vulnerable citizens, including disabled children and the elderly, as well as victims of abuse and neglect. The bill appropriates $13.7 billion to health and human services in our state, saving nearly $600 million in taxpayer money by reducing inefficiencies.
Specific provisions also included:
Teacher Licensure Simplification
Also of note from this week is a bill passed through the House that would streamline and clarify the teacher licensing process in our state. This measure, HF 140, was written in response to a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor back in 2015 that indicated significant flaws in our teacher licensure process that have caused confusion and frustration for many individuals seeking to be licensed as a teacher in Minnesota.
This bill does the following to reform our licensure process in Minnesota:
Thank you to constituents Nancy, Kate, Marissa, and Therese, who stopped by on Thursday to discuss issues regarding nutrition & healthy food.
Great to have a visit from constituents Abby, Hannah, and Jamie regarding reproductive rights.
IN OUR COMMUNITY
County Road 42/ Highway 52 Construction
Construction on the County Road 42/ Highway 52 interchange is scheduled to begin on April 10th. The interchange will be shutdown for the summer to complete the project, which will require people to use alternate routes.
To see details on this and other local planned road construction projects, visit: https://www.co.dakota.mn.us/Transportation/PlannedConstruction/Pages/default.aspx
Have a Blessed Easter!
My best wishes for your coming Easter and Passover celebrations. The House is in recess and there will be no official business next week. Conference committees will start the week following the Easter Holiday.
Keep in Touch
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-4306. You can also follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills and Twitter at https://twitter.com/annacwills. If you plan to stop by and visit me at the Capitol, my office is 491 in the State Office Building.
State Representative, District 57B
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