This week we focused on hearing policy bills in committees as the first committee deadline for all policy bills is today, March 10. We also finished work on two important bills this week.
I am pleased to report that the final version of H.F. 434 received final passage in the House and was enacted by the governor today. As I mentioned in a previous email, this bill provides $5 million in immediate funding to replenish our Local Road Wetland Replacement Program. The funding will ensure counties, cities and townships planning 2017 local road projects will be able to access the state wetland bank for wetland mitigation credits.
On a 122-7 vote the House passed and sent to the Senate a very important reform bill. H.F. 778 overhauls the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA). There have been a serious of improprieties surrounding the use of several luxurious Viking Stadium suites, as well as some MSFA officials allowed head of the line privileges to purchase very valuable front row Viking season tickets before the general public had access to purchase season tickets.
Two senior MSFA officials have since resigned. The bill limits the governor’s authority to only appoint a single member to the MSFA board, salaries for the staff may not exceed the governor’s salary and MSFA members and staff must specifically comply with all aspects of existing state law that govern the ethical behavior for state employees.
The goal is to restore public trust in the management of what is often referred to now as the People’s Stadium.
Real ID legislation hit a snag in the Senate this week failing to pass by 29-38. All 33 Senate DFL members voted “no” along with five GOP members. The DFL opposition centers around language in the bill that continues Minnesota’s current policy that prohibits issuing Minnesota driver’s licenses to immigrants living in the United States illegally. The GOP opposition focused on data privacy issues.
It’s disappointing to see another delay in providing Minnesotan’s with more secure, tamper-proof licenses. The current standard Minnesota license will not be accepted to board domestic aircraft after January of next year. I remain optimistic that a few Senate Democrats will eventually reach across the aisle and help resolve this matter for the people of Minnesota.
The issue of Sunday off-sale liquor is in the rear view mirror. The governor signed the bill and Sunday off-sale liquor will be allowed beginning July 1 of this year.
Enjoy the weekend.