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Nonpartisan office proposed to estimate bill costs

Think of HF599 as the Legislature’s “fiscal note to self” bill.

Fiscal notes are estimates of how much a bill would cost the state. Minnesota Management and Budget, an executive branch agency, prepares them at legislators’ request.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Vogel (R-Elko New Market), HF599 would bring that function in-house, creating a Legislative Budget Office within the Legislative Coordinating Commission.

The House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee approved the bill on a divided voice-vote Tuesday. The bill’s next stop is the House State Government Finance Committee.

“This is going to be an evolving process,” Vogel said.

As of Tuesday, 129 of the 1,511 bills introduced so far this session have fiscal notes. Does HF599 have a fiscal note? No, Vogel said, but a fiscal note on the companion, SF78, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), pegs the cost for the 2018-19 biennium at nearly $1.7 million. It awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) called HF599 “an expansion of government.”

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