Prep work is ramping up in St. Paul, with the 2018 legislative session is set to start in just three weeks (Feb. 20).
I have been at the Capitol complex in recent days/weeks to meet with various groups, including yesterday when representatives from Education Minnesota stopped by my office to discuss a variety of issues.
In addition to meeting with people, this also is a good time for legislators to get a jump on the bill process by “pre-filing” measures. Putting bills in the hopper now – as I have done with several proposals I have authored – helps us to hit the ground running on Day 1 of the new session.
Preparations also are underway with the higher education committee that I chair in the House. Last year was a budget year, so that part of business is in place for the rest of this biennium, ending in June of 2019. There are a good number of other issues to address regarding higher education. For example, even-numbered years typically are when the larger capital investment bills are assembled to fund projects throughout the state. Some of that work often is for facilities at state colleges and universities, so the bonding bill will be of interest to our committee. A number of local bonding projects are up for consideration as well, so look for more information as things develop.
All this advance work comes with the caveat that much of what happens at the Capitol this session hinges on our state’s February economic forecast. External forces such as the federal government’s recent passage of a tax bill could improve the outlook over what seemed to be a pessimistic November forecast. Time will tell, so stay tuned.
I will take a closer look at some of the session’s top subjects in upcoming updates. For now, your thoughts and concerns on any of the issues are especially helpful as the session’s start nears, so please stay in touch.