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Jan 22, 2020

Governor’s Bonding Proposal

Early last week, Governor Tim Walz released his recommendations for the 2020 capital investment bill. The Governor received over $5 billion in state agency and local government requests for state dollars and narrowed the proposal to over $2 billion in capital works construction projects in a series of press conferences that highlighted his top priorities: public safety, affordable housing, water infrastructure, and higher education.

Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) commissioner Myron Frans presented the Governor’s plan in a letter to legislators and stated that the $2 billion in state funds would utilize $600 million in other funds (including cash from the state’s operating surplus), and leverage $887 million in federal, local, and private funds to inject over $3.2 billion into the state’s aging infrastructure.

Members of the DFL controlled House, who are expected to introduce and even larger bonding bill during the 2020 session, praised the Governor’s proposal and joined him in citing low interest rates and job creation numbers as reasons to support a robust capital budget. Republican leaders in the Senate stated their desire for a modest bonding bill pointing to recent precedent where $1 billion in borrowing was traditionally the maximum lawmakers would approve in a given year.

Members of the House and Senate capital investment committees have been traveling the state over the past few months vetting the many projects requesting money and although a bonding bill isn’t required to pass all parties agree that it is a top priority this session.

Find more information on the Governor’s bonding proposal here

Senate Republicans Unveil Priorities

Last week also saw Senate Republicans unveil their 2020 session priorities. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) stated the primary purpose of the session would be to pass the bonding bill. While he didn’t specify how large he thought the bonding bill should be, he suggested the closer it is to the last two passed by the Legislature (roughly $1 billion) the more supportive he’ll be. Gazelka highlighted the $1.3 billion budget surplus and suggested giving some money back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, noting an initiative to eliminate the state’s social security income tax.

Other policy related items discussed were addressing high crime rates in the Minneapolis and St. Paul by getting tougher on felons who illegally possess guns and potentially adding more police officers. Gazelka also raised the possibility of looking at a drug re-importation program to allow for cheaper prescription medications. Finally, Gazelka emphasized a desire to work with Governor Walz to increase accountability from the Department of Human Services and address concerns raised throughout the summer and fall when the state agency was plagued by continue reports of error and disfunction. Specifics of each proposal were not outlined but it was stated that the details would be worked out in the committee process.

Following the Senate Republican press conference, Democratic leaders were skeptical of the Senate Republicans plans and criticized Republicans for what they saw as a failure to address insulin prices, gun violence prevention, paid family leave and climate change. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk criticized Senate Republicans for blocking important bills from receiving hearings, such as proposals to increase access to affordable health care, help students succeed in school, make communities safer, and ensure access to paid family and medical leave.

Special Election Updates

There are currently two vacant seats in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Gov. Walz has called for a special election to take place on February 4, 2020 to fill each seat. This will allow the individuals elected to be sworn into office in time for the start of the 2020 legislative session. While the special elections will occur on the same day, the primary elections for each were staggered by a week.

District 30A

On Tuesday, Sherburne County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Novotny won the Republican primary in District 30A. District 30A includes parts of Sherburne and Wright County, including cities of Elk River, Big Lake and part of Otsego.

Novotny comfortably defeated Kathy Ziebarth, a Big Lake resident, licensed healthcare professional, and former active duty U.S. Air Force officer. The seat was vacated when Rep. Nick Zerwas, (R-Elk River) announced his retirement and resignation in December, citing health and family reasons.

Novotny is a heavy favorite over DFL candidate Chad Hobot in the special election next month.

District 60A

The other special election primary will take place today in Minneapolis as nearly a dozen DFL candidates face off in District 60A. The special election became necessary when Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis) passed away November. Rep. Loeffler was in her eighth term in the Minnesota House and served as chair of the Property Tax Subcommittee.

The winner of today’s primary will face Marty Super of the Legal Marijuana Now Party for the seat in February. 

2020 Session Dates to Know

February 11, 2020
91st Minnesota Legislature Reconvenes

April 3-April 13, 2020
Easter/Passover Recess

May 18, 2020
Session Adjourns (per the Minnesota Constitution)

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


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