Here’s the latest news from the Capitol:
A special session was called last week to finish the work of passing a state budget. After a rocky process with little transparency even for rank-and-file legislators, we passed a state budget. I was incredibly disappointed in the process used to decide what made it into each bill, consisting of a “tribunal” made up of the Governor, House Speaker Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka.
The majority of the controversial provisions that initially passed the House were eliminated from the budget bills. In particular, the $0.20 per gallon gas tax, many fees on transportation expenses and outdoor recreation activities, the $68 million cut to Minnesota nursing homes, and numerous controversial election policies were removed from the bills.
Included in the bills were an extension of the reinsurance program, which was a Republican initiative that became a national model to hold down health care costs, reversal of the 7% cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System, and a Wage Theft provision that earned the support of all stakeholders instead of the controversial version that passed in the initial Jobs and Energy bill. Unfortunately, Democrats held strong on increasing the price of doctor visits, hospital stays, and medical procedures by bringing back the Sick Tax at 1.8%.
I will be at the Capitol again in June for an LCCMR meeting to consider projects to fund for next year’s LCCMR bill. LCCMR is the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The LCCMR’s purpose is to make recommendations to the legislature for environment and natural resource projects mainly funded out of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!