This last week was once again spent in conference committee negotiations with the Senate. The House and Senate announced our budget target agreement on Friday, which will serve as the guideline for conference committees as they finalize their budget bills.
House and Senate leadership had hoped that Governor Dayton would come to the table and negotiate budget targets so that a three-way agreement could be reached, but the Governor refused. He has also chosen not to participate in bill negotiations up to this point, in spite of numerous invitation from House leadership for him to share his priorities.
We chose to pass bills through the committee process earlier this year to allow more transparency and public participate in the negotiating process, as well as ample time for the Governor to make his demands known. My hope is that he plans to negotiate in good faith, instead of waiting until bills are sent to his desk for a signature or veto. Please contact Governor Dayton and tell him to start negotiating with House and Senate leadership and make his priorities known so we can come to a compromise.
This week we also passed some important pro-life bills that protect the health and safety of women, and well as the rights of Minnesota taxpayers.
The first bill, HF809, would prevent taxpayer funding of abortions. Currently, the Minnesota Department of Health estimates that 43% of abortions in our state are paid for by taxpayers. We need to respect Minnesota citizens who are morally opposed to abortion by not forcing them to pay for these procedures with their tax dollars. There are currently 33 other states with similar restrictions in place, as well as the federal government. This bill had bipartisan support.
The second bill, HF812, helps protect the health and safety of women in Minnesota who choose to seek an abortion by requiring abortion clinics to be licensed. Minnesota law currently does not require clinics providing abortions to be licensed.
In 2013, the issue of abortion clinic health and safety received national attention when the practices of Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his clinic in Philadelphia came under scrutiny. We must take every action to prevent such horrific treatment and conditions from threatening the health of women in our state. HF812 would require health centers performing ten or more abortions each month to be licensed and inspected by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Abortion clinics would be inspected according to their industry’s own clinical standards, and licenses could be revoked or denied by the Department of Health if clinics:
It is my hope that no woman in Minnesota is faced with the choice of having an abortion. As things stand now, it is essential that we hold abortion clinics to a minimum standard of safety, sanitary conditions, and health practices. I am pleased to say this bill passed with bipartisan support.
I will keep you updated as we finish these last few weeks of session.