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February 1, 2019

Committee Activity Heats Up Even as Temperatures Plummet  

Even as the polar vortex brought near-record low temperatures and closed schools throughout Minnesota, activity at the state legislature began to heat up as a number of high-profile pieces of legislation received their first committee hearings.  Having spent the first few weeks of the session focused on informational hearings, this week policy committees began considering a variety of legislative proposals, including proposals related to sexual assault prevention, pharmacy benefit manager regulation, and election operations.  

In addition to committee activity increasing, a number of high profile pieces of legislation were introduced.  Most notably, earlier this week Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) and Sen. Melissa Franzen (DFL-Edina) introduced legislation that would legalize, regulate, and tax the cultivation, consumption, use, and possession of marijuana. The measure’s prospects are hard to decipher as Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Center) has expressed reluctance to fast-track the initiative despite its significant support among many House Democrats.

Paid Family & Medical Leave Program Passes House Labor Committee  

On Wednesday afternoon the House Labor Policy committee heard and passed HF 5 which would create a new statewide program to provide for 12 weeks of medical leave with partial wage replacement and 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a new baby, or care for a sick loved one.  Introduced by Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), the bill would utilize an insurance program modeled off of unemployment insurance to collect a new employment tax and administer benefits.  While presenting the bill, Rep. Halverson stressed the measure was a work in progress and likely to evolve significantly as it moved through the committee process. After significant public testimony and discussion, the bill passed out of the House Labor Policy 10-5 and was referred to the House Commerce Committee.  

House Health and Human Services Policy Committee Passes Opioid Stewardship Legislation 

On Wednesday evening the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee passed HF 400 which seeks to address a growing addition crisis in Minnesota.  Presented by both chief author Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) and co-author, Rep. Dave Backer (R-Wilmar), the legislation attempts to take a broad-based approach to the crisis by funding a variety of initiatives that attempt to save lives and provide a variety of treatment options to individuals struggling with addition. Additionally, the legislation seeks to better educate prescribers as to the dangers of addictive pain medications and prevent future addictions. The proposal is funded by a new, short term “opiate product registration fee” intended to generate $20 million a year from pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesale distributors based on each businesses’ total share of the market. Following multiple hours of testimony, the committee passed HF 400 10-3 and referred the measure to the House Commerce Committee. 

Legislative Leaders Announce Committee Deadlines  

On Thursday legislative leaders announced the committee deadlines for the 2019 legislative session. These deadlines dictate when individual bills need to be passed out of committee in advance order. The deadlines are as follows:

March 15, 2019‎  
First committee deadline (The first deadline is for ‎committees to act ‎ favorably on bills in the house of origin.)‎

March 29, 2019‎   
Second committee deadline (The second deadline is for ‎committees to ‎act favorably on bills, or companions of ‎bills, that met the first deadline in ‎the other house.)‎

April 12, 2019‎  
Final committee deadline (The third deadline is for ‎committees to act ‎ favorably on major appropriation and ‎finance bills.)‎

April 13-April 22, 2019 
Legislative recess for Easter/Passover holidays.

The Minnesota Constitution requires the legislature to adjourn by May 20, 2019. 


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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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