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May 18, 2020

Legislative Session Adjourns Sine Die, Special Session Likely

Shortly after midnight on Monday, May 18, 2020, the 91st Minnesota Legislature adjourned sine die leaving numerous policy, budget, and tax bills incomplete. Most notable was the absence of the capital investment bill (or bonding bill) that is traditionally passed in the second year of the biennium. Both the House and Senate took up bonding proposals, each one failing to garner the requisite three-fifths majority to pass.

Lawmakers met throughout the day on Sunday, May 17, taking up and passing a variety of policy and finance bills that now head to the governor, including a $25 million dollar package for renewable energy project development funded through the state’s Renewable Development Account (RDA), a higher education policy bill that gives the Office of Higher Education more authority to address problems that arise from for-profit institutions and a $117 million Legacy bill to fund outdoor conservation projects statewide. The governor has 14 days to sign or veto any legislation passed within the last three days of session. The governor may also refuse to act on a bill, at which time it fails to become law.

Legislative leaders and members are already discussing completing unfinished work during a June special session. The governor’s current COVID-19 peacetime emergency declaration is set to expire on June 12, 2020 and, should the governor issue another 30-day extension, he must call the legislature into special session to ensure the legislature has an opportunity to vote to terminate the peacetime emergency. Such a vote would require majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

It is anticipated when the legislature reconvenes for the June special session, they will likely take up a package that consists of the bonding bill, COVID-19 related tax law changes, and the appropriation of federal COVID-19 funds.

Tobacco 21 Becomes Law

On Saturday May 16, 2020, Governor Walz signed a bill that will raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping products in Minnesota to 21. Tobacco 21 (or T-21) received broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate but was not free from criticism. Numerous lawmakers expressed their opposition to the bill because it lacked an exemption for active military members under 21 years of age.

Numerous cities and counties throughout the state have already implemented ordinances prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to individuals under 21. The new law creates a statewide prohibition, and, with the Governor’s approval, Minnesota became the 25th state to adopt the T-21 law.

Governor Walz Makes First Supreme Court Appointment

On May 15, 2020, Governor Tim Walz appointed Judge Gordon Moore to be the next associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. This is Governor Walz’s first appointment to the Supreme Court since taking office in January 2019. Judge Moore currently serves as a judge in the Fifth Judicial District in Worthington, Minnesota and previously served as the Nobles County Attorney. He will fill the seat currently held by Justice David Lillehaug who announced last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and would leave the court effective July 31, 2020.

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


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    Larkin Hoffman provides counsel to a wide variety of ‎organizations, from ‎small businesses and nonprofits to  Fortune 500 companies, in ‎many areas of practice including ‎corporate and governance matters, litigation, real ‎estate, government relations, labor and employment, intellectual property, ‎information technology, ‎franchising and taxation. The firm also serves the needs of individuals in many ‎areas ‎including trusts and estates, personal injury and family law.


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