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March 22, 2019



Governor Releases Supplemental Budget 

Today, Governor Tim Walz released his revised budget recommendations. The supplemental budget proposal reflects changes in the state’s February economic forecast that shows the state’s projected budget surplus shrinking from $1.5 billion to $1 billion. The decrease in the projected surplus was rather easily absorbed by the Governor’s budget as it had previously left over $700 million on the bottom line. The Governor’s supplemental budget still leaves over $500 million in unspent money, as Walz has recommended cutting his original proposed budget by $98 million. 

The cuts were a mix of revised agency asks, adjustments to funding sources, and alterations to revenue projections based on the February budget forecast. 

Find more on the Governor’s supplemental budget here

 
Opioid Legislation Passes House and Moves in Senate

A bipartisan effort to combat Minnesota’s growing opioid abuse problem took a large step toward enactment on Monday when it passed the House floor with a 94-34 vote. The bill, H.F. 400, would raise over $20 million in new revenue by imposing a new registration fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.  The new revenue is then appropriated for various programs targeted at opioid addiction education, intervention, and treatment.

One day after the House approved the legislation, the bill’s companion, S.F. 751, cleared the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, signaling that the multi-year effort to address what many believe to be an “epidemic” may become law this year.

Proponents of the initiative shared numerous stories from Minnesotans who have lost loved ones to opioid abuse. Critics, however, say that this bill will only increase healthcare costs as the new fee will simply be passed on to patients.

The House will await Senate action on the bill where chief author and chairwoman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) has committed to its passage. 

House Approves Distracted Driving Bill

In a vote of 106-21, the Minnesota House passed a distracted driving bill that would prohibit the use of a mobile device while operating a vehicle and limit the use of wireless communications devices to hands-free and one-touch technology. The bill, H.F. 50, received support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who highlighted the increased number of traffic incidents and deaths caused by distracted drivers in Minnesota. Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), the bill’s chief author and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, pointed to statistics from 16 other states that have approved similar legislation that show a sixteen percent drop in distracted driving fatalities. 

Criticism of the bill was limited, but some lawmakers expressed concerns about a study included in the bill that would evaluate traffic stop data for racial profiling which they viewed as outside the scope of the hands-free legislation intended to improve traffic safety. Other members criticized the bill’s potential discriminatory impact against drivers of older vehicles with no hands-free technology. 

The bill’s companion, S.F. 91, has already been approved by multiple committees in the Senate where the Senate Transportation Chairman, Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) is confident it will pass this year and be signed into law by Governor Tim Walz. 


House Passes Bill to Change Definition of Sexual Harassment


A bill aimed at making it easier for victims of sexual harassment to seek action in court passed the House on Thursday night in a vote of 113-10. The proposal, H.F. 10, adjusts the definition of sexual harassment by removing the “severe and pervasive” requirement that has made it difficult for victims to prove the existence of harassment in court. 

Although overwhelmingly supported, some critics argued the bill lacked protections for employers who took proactive measures to address harassment in the workplace. 

The bill will now head to the Senate where an alternative bill, S.F. 2295, proposes to further define "severe and pervasive" rather than eliminate it.

Minnesota Pothole Patrol Looking for Minnesota’s Worst Roads

To make his case for an increased gas tax, Governor Tim Walz has been out on some of Minnesota’s deteriorating roads and is asking Minnesotan’s to join him.  Trending on social media is the Governor’s communications strategy that shares videos, images, gifs, and other news from people experiencing the annual spring thaw that reveals the quality of Minnesota’s roads. 

The Governor’s transportation budget relies heavily on increased revenues from the gas tax. The proposal would raise the current tax 70 percent, or 20 cents per gallon. Republicans have remained in opposition to any new gas tax increase proposing instead a combination of bonding and use of the state’s billion-dollar surplus. 

Follow along on Twitter using: #mnpotholes

Important Upcoming Dates

Friday, March 29 — Committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other body.

Friday, April 12 — Committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.

April 13-April 22 — Legislative recess for Easter/Passover holidays

Wednesday, May 1 — Major appropriation and finance bills are to be passed by the respective bodies.

Monday, May 6 — Chairs of major appropriation and finance conference committees will receive the final budget targets.

Monday, May 13 — Conference committees must reach agreement and send conference committee reports to each body for a final vote.

Monday, May 20‎ — Minnesota Legislature required to adjourn the session.‎

Please reach out to any of the Larkin Hoffman Government Relations team members with any questions.


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