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April 5, 2019


Governor Walz Delivers State of the State Address 

Wednesday night, lawmakers convened in the House chamber to hear Governor Tim Walz deliver his first state of the state address. Striking a unifying message, the Governor shared stories of Minnesotans he invited as guests to the speech to highlight the main themes of his proposed budget: Education, Healthcare, and Community Prosperity. A teacher, healthcare providers, and a mayor helped the Governor make his pitch on his education budget proposal, his OneCare insurance buy-in, and his proposal to increase local government aid.

Noting that Minnesota has the only politically divided legislature in the nation, with a Republican-controlled Senate, and a Democratically controlled House, the Governor encouraged compromise and reminded legislators that behind the debates at the Capitol are real people.

But the Governor’s conciliatory tone may be difficult for him to translate into passed bills as the Governor and Republican leaders remain far apart on many details of the state’s budget, particularly around transportation where the Governor is proposing a hefty, 20 cent gas tax increase. Republicans jumped on the Governor’s reference to his proposal responding with their own plan that would use a combination of bonding and the state’s billion-dollar surplus to fund transportation projects rather than raising taxes. House Democrats released their own transportation plan earlier this week that closely mirrors the Governor's with a 20 cent gas tax implemented over four years.

Ending his speech to bipartisan applause, the Governor declared the state of the state to be strong and charged the legislature with writing a new story of bipartisan compromise.

See the Governor’s full state of the state address here.

Budget Bill Process Begins

 With the second deadline for policy bills passed and third deadline for budget bills just one week away, committees have begun hearing omnibus finance packages that will be the foundation of negotiations between the Governor, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) heading into the final month of the 2019 legislative session.

These omnibus bills will travel from their original finance committees to the Finance Committee in the Senate and the Ways and Means Committee in the House before being combined with other division bills and eventually moved to the floors for debate.

The House plans to move all major finance bills off the House floor before the legislature recesses for Easter/Passover break in one week. The Senate plans to move a bit slower but still hopes to have finance packages set for conference committee shortly after the break. 

Opioid Conference Committee Established 

This week, the Senate voted 59-6 to pass S.F. 751 a bill to create an Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council and fund numerous treatment programs for individuals with opioid addiction. The new council and programming are funded by new revenues obtained through a new fee on opioid drug manufacturers.

The bill is heading to conference committee following last week’s passage of the bill’s companion, H.F. 400, in the House. The bills, although largely similar, will need to work out minor disparities in funding levels and grant programs before heading back to each body for final passage and to the Governor who is expected to sign it.

For more information about the two bills, see the side-by-side comparison and spreadsheet.

Senate Debates Growlers

On Thursday, the Senate passed its version of the omnibus liquor bill, S.F. 2130, which includes small changes to certain local liquor licenses and would allow Minneapolis-St. Paul international airport to serve liquor 24 hours a day.

Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) raised an amendment targeted at helping Minnesota’s craft brewing industry. The amendment proposed to lift an existing cap on a brewery’s ability to sell growlers in their tap room. Under state law, breweries are not authorized to sell growlers if they produce 20,000 barrels of beer annually. The amendment would have lifted that to 40,000 to accommodate some of Minnesota’s fastest growing and best-known breweries. Currently, five breweries in the state are already over the 20,000 barrel cap (Schells, Summit, Surly, Third Street, and Fulton), while four breweries are about to meet that cap (Castle Danger, Bent Paddle, Lift Bridge, and Indeed).

Housley withdrew the amendment after a short debate where she garnered bipartisan support to continue working on a compromise between industry stakeholder groups.

Important Upcoming Dates

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.


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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