I hope this finds you well. The Legislature adjourned on May 20 shortly before midnight. We started out session twelve weeks ago with bipartisan agreement to act on many issues important to Minnesotans: the opioid crisis, elder abuse, tax conformity, sexual harassment, hands-free driving and more. Unfortunately, final proposals under each of these categories either did not adequately address the problem, or simply did not advance throughout the session.
Now that the Legislature has adjourned for the biennium, I’d like to take a moment to give you a brief recap from the Capitol.
Budget Bill and Tax Vetoes
Weeks leading up to the end of session, Governor Dayton repeatedly pledged to veto major pieces of legislation that included provisions he would not accept. In various correspondences with Republican leaders, the Governor outlined the need for stand-alone, clean bills that didn’t mix policy with finance or on multiple topics. Disappointingly, and with plenty of time to work toward compromise with the Governor, the Republican Majority instead chose to push forward one of the largest omnibus bills our state has seen in recent history.
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with its contents, major policy and finance bills deserve thoughtful and careful consideration. Thorough discussion and public input is what the people of Minnesota expect. Rolling various unrelated topics into one, nearly 1,000 page bill, with only two hours to review it before a full vote, is irresponsible and careless. Minnesotans deserve better.
The Governor promptly fulfilled his promises last Wednesday, vetoing the mega supplemental omnibus budget bill and the omnibus tax bill.
While I’m disappointed a tax conformity plan was not finalized, there will be an opportunity to take on the discussion next year when the new biennium begins on January 8. In the meantime, the Minnesota Department of Revenue will start to update its filing system to accommodate the differences between the federal and state codes.
After the bonding bill passed in the House and failed in the Senate, negotiations began to find a compromise. The final result was a larger bill that reached approximately $1.5 billion. This includes $12 million for Normandale Community College and bonding funds for our metro parks. I’m glad the bill reached a bipartisan consensus and has earned the Governor’s signature.
One victory of the 2018 session was passage of the bill to help stabilize pension plans for more than 500,000 Minnesotans, including teachers, firefighters and other public employees. The Senate had passed their version of the bill months ago, so I’m glad we passed a clean, stand-alone bill free of any added controversial policy. Our public employees deserve a secure retirement for their hard work. Governor Dayton will sign the bill into law this week.
Lieutenant Governor Update
Last week, Michelle Fischbach resigned her seat in the Minnesota Senate and took the oath of office to officially serve as Minnesota’s 49th Lieutenant Governor. Governor Dayton joined Lt. Governor Fischbach for the oath of office ceremony, and has made special election plans for Senate District 13, which will be held in coordination with the general election on Tuesday, November 6th.
Stay in Touch
Although we’ve adjourned for the biennium, don’t hesitate to reach out over the summer and fall. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your input anytime.