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April 26, 2021

Omnibus Week

With three weeks left in the 2021 regular legislative session, the House and Senate spent long days and nights on the floors debating and passing budget bills. Over a dozen omnibus bills have passed off the House and Senate floor, setting up a contentious conference committee season. Lawmakers have until May 17, 2021, to agree to a budget that will fund state government for the next two years. With the only divided legislature in the nation, House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain far apart on their proposals.

Complicating matters this year are several key issues that may require special sessions after May 17 to resolve; including:

  • the Governor’s continuation of his COVID-19 peacetime emergency powers that Republicans want to see lifted;
  • police and criminal justice reform that Democrats want following the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin and shooting of Davante Wright;
  • and administering federal relief funds from the federal government.

With the majority of omnibus bills being passed, conferees are beginning to be named and conference committees will begin meeting in an attempt to publicly work out the differences between the House and Senate bills.

Important Dates

May 17
The legislature must adjourn

Please note: Committee deadlines do not apply to the committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means/Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration.

Federal Update

Coming up this week, President Biden will speak to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, and travel to Georgia on Thursday for a drive-in car rally to mark his 100th day in office. He’ll lay out the details of his next major legislative proposal, focused on child care and education, and touch on policing and health care policy. A president’s first joint address would usually be held in February, but it required extra planning this year due to the pandemic and security concerns following the January 6 insurrection. Fewer people than usual will attend due to COVID-19 precautions.

Minnesota Retains all Seats Following Census Bureau Release of 2020 Results

Today, The Census Bureau unveiled which states will gain and lose congressional seats, as part of the first wave of population results from the troubled 2020 decennial count.

The apportionment results, which trigger once-a-decade reshuffling of 435 House seats, was released in a news conference. This distribution comes after a nearly four-month delay in the process due to the coronavirus pandemic, numerous natural disasters and other problems with the count.

The apportionment results reveled that the United States population is currently at 331 million people indicating a slower than average population growth. Several organizations estimated the apportionment results would create winners and losers. Texas gained two additional seats. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat in Congress. Meanwhile, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will all lose a congressional seat. Minnesota beat out New York for the 435 seat in the house by 89 people, retaining all eight of its congressional seats.

Several states and members of Congress have indicated they may challenge the census results in court.

Today’s release follows months of trouble for the decennial count. The Census Bureau last year missed its statutory December 31 deadline for apportionment results for the first time. On top of that, the agency said it may not deliver the detailed data needed for redistricting until the end of September.

Infrastructure Alternative

The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus joined the infrastructure policy debate Friday, releasing a 20-page document laying out areas where the caucus argues the parties can agree. The plan was short on details and costs but appeared to endorse higher fuel taxes as well as possibly other user fees, including on freight carried by trucks. It wasn’t immediately embraced or rejected by congressional party caucuses or the White House.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans unveiled a five-year, $568 billion infrastructure proposal on Thursday, April 22, 2021 that they hope can be a starting point for negotiations with Democrats. Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders says the proposal “goes nowhere near what has to be done to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. 

Public Charge Ruling

On Monday, April 19, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected an attempt by a group of Republican governors to defend a Trump-era expansion of a rule that makes it more difficult for immigrants to achieve legal status if they use public benefits. The public charge rule, finalized in 2019, was initially blocked in district court, but Trump's Department of Homeland Security appealed that ruling. The Biden administration said in March it would not defend the rule, effectively allowing it to die.

The public charge rule, which took effect across the country more than a year ago, allows immigration officials to deny green cards to anyone deemed likely to need public assistance, based on the person's past usage of such benefits or factors such as health and education level.

Immigration advocates decried the policy, saying it deters immigrants from taking advantage of public health clinics and other programs they are entitled to out of fear of future immigration repercussions — a particular problem during the coronavirus pandemic.

Beyond cash assistance that has long been grounds for excluding immigrants, the Trump rule expanded the rule to cover Medicaid and other programs such as the Medicare Part D premium, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and housing assistance.

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


Our Team

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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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