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May 5, 2021

Police Reform, Governor’s Emergency
Powers Take Center Stage

In the wake of the Chauvin trial verdict, Governor Tim Walz and DFL legislators are pushing for further police reform legislation, while GOP leadership counter with a determination to end Gov. Walz’s emergency powers. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) has stated publicly that if the Governor is not willing to end his emergency powers, the Senate is prepared to fund a minimal, “lights-on” budget that will keep the state government funded at its existing levels to avoid a government shutdown. Speaker of the House, Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) has made policing reform an essential component of any budget agreed to this year.

Complicating matters this year is the Governor’s continued renewal of his COVID-19 peacetime emergency declaration which gives him broad unilateral authority to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor must renew his executive order every thirty days, and the legislature must be in session to provide lawmakers the opportunity to vote to overturn the order. With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, the Governor intends to keep renewing his authority; thus, the traditional pressure to adjourn session with a complete and balanced budget sent to the Governor has completely dissolved. Lawmakers will be called back to the Capitol again in June, giving the legislature an additional six weeks to strike a deal to avoid a state government shutdown.

The 2021 regular session must adjourn on May 17, 2021. With little time and no urgency, it is expected that most budget negotiations will require at least one special session this year.

Omnibus Bills Clear Floor; Conference Committee Begin Negotiations

Last week, both the House and Senate passed all omnibus budget proposals with the House passing its version of the human services bill (H.F. 2128) late Monday, after 11 hours of debate. The Senate debated their version of the omnibus human services budget bill on Thursday, ultimately passing the bill on a vote of 39-28.

Conference committees began to meet over the last week and a few other standalone bills passed off the floor. Legislators spent the end of last week gearing up for the final two weeks of session. This week, conference committees will be meeting throughout the day. A full list of conference committees is below.

Conference Committees

Vehicle Bill

Vehicle Bill


Senate Conferees

House Conferees

Agriculture and Rural Development



Westrom; Dornink; Goggin; Anderson; Murphy

Sundin; Vang; Pelowski; Lippert; Nelson, N.

Commerce, Energy & Consumer Protection



Dahms; Senjem; Utke; Mathews; Frentz

Stephenson; Long; Hollins; Acomb; O’Driscoll

Environment & Natural Resources



Ingebrigtsen; Rudd; Eichorn; Tomassoni; Westrom

Hansen, R; Wazlawik; Morrison; Fischer; Heintzeman

Health and Human Services 



Benson; Abeler;
Koran; Hoffman

Liebling; Schultz; Gomez; Pinto; Schomacker

Higher Ed



Tomassoni; Rarick; Goggin; Jasinski; Clausen

Bernardy; Christensen; Keeler; Klevorn; O’Neill




Draheim; Duckworth; Dahms; Pratt; Dziedzic

Housman; Howard; Agbaje; Reyer; Theis

Judiciary & Public Safety



Limmer; Mathews; Johnson; Ingebrigtsen; Latz

Mariani; Becker-Finn;
Moller; Frazier; Miller




Chamberlain; Eichorn; Duckworth; Dornink; Wiger

Davnie; Richardson; Pryor; Hassan; Kresha




Ruud; Weber; Senjem; Lang;

Lillie; Jordon; Xiong, J; Huot;

State Government, Veterans and Military Affairs



Kiffmeyer; Lank;
Koran; Howe; Carlson

Nelson, M; Xiong, T.; Masin; Greenman; Nash




Nelson; Weber; Miller;

Maquart; Youakim; Her; Lislegard; Davids

Workforce and Business Development



Rarick; Housley; Draheim; Eken

Noor; Ecklund; Olson, L.; Berg; Hamilton

Joint Budget Targets Expected Friday

Typical for this time of the year the speculation of whether or not the legislature will have enough time to sort out differences and negotiate on Joint budget targets while passing final legislation off of each floor by midnight, May 17. Due to the pandemic, recent civil unrest in Minneapolis--that sparked national media attention and a politically charged environment leading up to the 2022 census election--, and the Governor’s Executive Power Authority that is expected to be extended through May (requiring legislators to return for special sessions to extend the Governor’s authority each month following adjournment of the regular session) there is no real urgency to come to bipartisan agreement on policy bills that couldn’t be farther apart.

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

President Joe Biden outlined his plan for spending big on key areas in his prime-time address to Congress, calling for over $4 trillion in new spending with tax increases on corporations and upper-income households. Historic levels of party unity now on display in Congress mean he could succeed with only Democratic votes. But to achieve his goal of a monumental increase in government spending to bolster infrastructure, green energy, child and eldercare, and public education he won’t be able to accede to Republican demands, which are to significantly downscale his plans. That means using the budget reconciliation process that allows Democrats to proceed with simple majorities.

The budget reconciliation process will require Democrats' narrow majorities in the House and Senate to stick together, which would seem a tough job, given their narrowness a six-seat margin in the House and an evenly divided Senate. The House is currently divided between 218 Democrats and 212 Republicans, meaning Democrats can lose no more than two votes if Republicans are united in opposition.

If Republicans can’t defeat the Biden agenda in the House, then, perhaps the battle will occur in the Senate. There, with the chamber split 50-50, Republicans need only persuade one Democrat to join them in order to block Biden’s bid to remake the social contract. Their obvious target is Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who represents a state Trump won by 39 percentage points. But they shouldn’t count on him. Democrats will face intraparty conflict in the months ahead. Already some in the House are insisting that Congress repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions Republicans imposed in 2017. Some in the Senate are worried Biden’s plan to lift the capital gains tax rate for the wealthy to 39.6 percent from 20 percent is too much.

But even if they make demands, Biden can accept them and still oversee a transformation of the American economy unseen in decades thanks to unprecedented unity in his party.

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


Our Team

Peter Coyle



Peder Larson



Margaret Vesel



Robert Long



Bill Griffith


Matthew Bergeron



Gerald Seck



Logan O'Grady


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Megan Knight


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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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