Greetings Friends & Neighbors,
The regular session of the 91st legislature ended at midnight yesterday May 20th, 2019.
This session was most different of any that I have had the honor of representing you in St. Paul in many different ways. A new governor, a shift in majority control, 39 new members a new Speaker of the House and majority leader, establishment of many new committees, no adoption of permanent rules of the House and the adoption of new legislative procedures which challenged any constituent (and legislator) to track legislation or to coordinate public testimony in support or opposition to proposed legislation.
Accordingly, the new House majority created numerous new challenges for itself and, as the session progressed, it became increasingly clear that getting the work of the people done on time was increasingly going to be difficult. In order to assist the Democrat majority, Republicans agreed to assist the new majority in passing their division reports out of the House without protracted filibustering in order to start the conference committee process timely and in hopes of aiding in transparency and favorable legislation. Unfortunately, conference committees could not do their work when spending targets were not announced timely by the executive and the legislative and not agreed upon in advance of conference committee work.
Most contentious was the notion of a proposed budget that would require raising more than $12 billion of new taxes during a time of surplus and would have increased spending in state government by double digit increases. Unlike the challenges in 2011 when our economy was in deep recession, jobs were lost, pensions collapsing in value, home values plummeting and state revenues falling $6.5 billion into deficit red ink, the legislature in bi-partisan manner rose to the occasion and was able to balance the budget, without raising taxes by demonstrating austerity for the many jobless taxpayers that were facing losses in many areas. Raising taxes in a time of surplus was clearly unnecessary.
Governor Walz and legislative leaders agreed last week to a global agreement concerning spending. While that agreement is certainly necessary the outstanding policy issues did not have written global agreement other than the ability of any legislative leader to essentially veto any division report that contained objectionable policy provisions. Accordingly, each side would become very aware of any policy provision that would prove to be a poison pill.
The time remaining in the regular session could not permit the Conference Committees or the Revisor’s Office to finalize the details and get bills written in their final agreed upon form in time to be presented to the governor without a Special Session.
Therefore, a Special Session will soon be announced to resolve the remaining budgetary and policy provisions presumably in time to avoid a shut-down of government services when both the fiscal year and biennial budget ends June 30, 2019. Presumably, before the Fourth of July holiday.
As a reminder, the last government shutdown that occurred in 2011 under Governor Dayton was resolved when Governor Dayton signed the same budget bill presented to him 21 days earlier, largely in part because liquor distributors could not get re-licensed in time to restock retailers to make available the favorite beverages of taxpayers. Taxpayers became very angry over this issue So, just in case, you may want to stock up for the holiday earlier than later.
I will brief you when more will become known about the Special Session soon to be announced.