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April 12, 2019

Distracted Driving Bill Becomes Law  

After the House and Senate passed different version bills prohibiting the use of a mobile device while driving, a bipartisan set of legislators met in conference committee Monday afternoon to amend H.F. 50 and send it back to both bodies where it passed 107-19 in the House and 48-12 in the Senate.

The bill, a bipartisan effort led by House Transportation Chairman Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) and Senate Transportation chairman Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), expands an existing limitation on the use of wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle and increases penalties for individuals utilizing a device while driving. The bill will require drivers to utilize mobile phones in hands-free mode and exempts viewing information on a global positioning system (GPS).

Governor Tim Walz signed the bill Friday morning, surrounded by Minnesotans who have lost loved ones to distracted driving. The law becomes effective August 1, 2019.

Bonding Bill Originates in the House

On Tuesday, Representative Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown) released the details of a $1.5 billion capital investment bill. The bill largely follows the lead of Governor Walz’s capital proposal, but adds nearly $300 million in local projects that the Governor withheld in a strategy aimed at pressuring local lawmakers to champion projects from within their districts.

In a hearing Tuesday evening, over thirty testifiers came to voice support for many of the emergency and public safety projects included in the bill. Including large investments in rail-grade safety and roads and bridges infrastructure. The bill was passed on Thursday to the Ways & Means Committee. It is expected the bill will pass to the House floor and although a bonding bill must originate in the House, it faces an uncertain path as it requires a three-fifths vote to pass and Republicans have been hesitant to support any bonding bill this year after two record-breaking years of bonding bills in 2017 and 2018.

Find more information on the projects included in the Governor’s and the House bonding bill here.

Opioid Conference Committee Established 

With both the House and Senate passing proposals to address opioid abuse problems in Minnesota, a conference committee was established to resolve the differences before sending a compromised version back to each body. The Conference Committee is expected to start meeting more frequently after spring recess and develop a proposal that can pass a divided legislature and will meet the Governor’s requirements.

The conference committee members include:

Representative Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) – Co-Chair
Representative Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan)
Representative Dave Baker (R-Wilmar)

Senator Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) – Co-Chair
Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake)
Senator Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center)

Omnibus Bills are Moving

With just 6 weeks left in the 2019 legislative session, committee chairs are releasing the details of the state’s budget and combining bills into larger omnibus packages. In the House, almost all the state’s nearly $49 billion budget has been moved through the committee process and will be awaiting floor debates in the House. In the Senate, lawmakers will begin the work of moving all bills to the floor following next week’s recess.

Once the legislature reconvenes, budget bills will be debated and voted on by each body to begin the conference committee process where lawmakers will meet to work out the stark differences in their proposals. The Republican-controlled Senate remains far away from the budget targets recommended by the Governor and presented by the DFL majority in the House.

Legislature on Spring Recess Next Week 

Committees will not meet next week as the legislature is taking its annual Easter/Passover recess. Some legislators may hold individual meetings but there will be no procedural processing of reports or bills until the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday April 23.

Important Dates to Remember

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 final vote.

Monday, May 20‎ - Minnesota Legislature required to adjourn session.‎

Please reach out to anyone on the Larkin Hoffman government relations team with any questions.


Our Team

Peter Coyle



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Margaret Vesel



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