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January 31, 2022

Minnesota’s 93rd Legislative Session is Officially Underway

Today is the start of the 2022 Legislative Session! Republicans and Democrats spent the last week leading up to session finalizing their legislative priorities for 2022.  Last week the Senate Republican Caucus released their vision for 2022 which included using the surplus to create broad tax relief for low to middle-income families, increase reading proficiency in schools, and implement stricter sentencing guidelines for criminal prosecutors and harsher penalties for violent offenders.

Gov. Walz and the House DFL Caucus continued to roll out their priorities for the legislative session, including healthcare, public safety, and education. The Democrats’ public safety plan focuses on community policing methods and building trust among community members. However, there does appear to be some consensus amongst the two parties in providing additional funding for officer recruitment. Democrat proposals also focus on increased classroom support for teachers, and improved access to mental health support for students. Both parties have expressed interest in addressing access and cost of childcare.

Senate Republican Session Priorities

Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) and Senate Republicans released their priorities for the 2022 legislative session on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. Senate Republicans’ plan emphasizes public safety, education, and tax reform, particularly a proposal to exempt social security payments from state income taxes. Sen. Miller also commented on efforts to address the state’s unemployment insurance deficit and address inflation. Here is a breakdown of Republicans vision for 2022:

  • Public Safety: Judiciary Chair Warren Limmer
    (R-Maple Grove) announced a plan that included police recruitment and retention grants, increases in mandatory sentencing minimums for violent crimes, and new criminal laws related to carjackings.

  • Education: Republicans proposed increasing funding for the Learning Essentials for Teaching of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program. They also announced support for the creation of a parental bill of rights and emphasized a need to reduce screen time. 
  • Taxes: Senate Republicans announced that a longstanding proposal to eliminate the state income tax on social security benefits remained a top priority for 2022. Senate Republicans also want to use the historic $7.7 billion surplus to create some form of permeant tax relief for middle to low-income families.

More Supplemental Budget 

On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, Gov. Walz released another part of his supplemental budget. This time, the focus was on education and early childhood development. The proposal has a slew of new programs with expanded investment in some currently existing programs as well. Here are the key components of the budget:

  • Access to Childcare and Pre-K: Gov. Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan propose expanding public pre-K options through a mixed delivery model requiring a combination of school-based programs, Head Start, childcare centers and family childcare programs. The plan also increases childcare assistance payments to federal standard rate and would allow the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program to provide assistance to eligible families.
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave and Earned Sick & Safe Time: Continuing efforts in past sessions, the Walz Administration called for the creation of a paid family and medical leave program aimed at retaining women in the workforce and creating more equitable opportunities for Minnesotans. Similarly, the administration’s earned sick & safe time would allow a recipient to accrue 48 hours annually for various medical concerns.
  • Education Workforce: The Waltz Administration proposed investing an additional 2% on the general education formula and reducing cross subsidies for special education and English language learners, to give schools more decision-making power. The Walz budget has numerous programs focusing on various things such as teacher recruitment and retention, improving educator experiences, and recruiting teachers of color. An additional investment of $15 million will be made to hire education support staff. 
  • School Lunches: The proposal would make a $183 million investment with a 4% increase annually for free breakfast and lunch for kids participating in the national school breakfast and lunch program. The proposal also plans to make investments in food shelves for people participating in the SNAP program.
  • Student Success: The budget proposal included an annual $5 million investment to implement Minnesota’s BOLD reading program as well as $47.3 million will be invested in culturally specific youth development, and employment opportunities and $5 million to expand community schools.
  • Student Mental Health: Finally, Gov. Walz has made it a priority to address student mental health with a proposal that includes:

    • $77 million to address the shortage of mental health professionals in school;
    • $6 million investment for school-linked behavioral grants;
    • $9.98 million annual grant for expanded mental health screening;
    • $3.75 million to increase access for early childhood learning grants; and
    • $26 million for retaining, creating, and expanding inpatient mental health beds for children.

House DFL Education Priorities 

On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, the House DFL leadership also released their education priorities for 2022. The House DFL plan mirrors the Governor’s education priorities on childcare access and increased school funding. However, House Democrats’ plan also seeks to focus on in-classroom achievement where some policy experts see the Walz budget as emphasizing support programs. The House DFL plan also seeks to address University of Minnesota’s tuition rates. This is a breakdown of the three major components of the education plan:

  • Early Childhood Learning: $2.3 billion annual investment to expand early learning opportunities for middle to low-income families, and increased wages for teachers.
  • K-12 Education: $870 million annual investment to subsidize school budgets by fully funding special education departments and English learner needs.
  • Higher Education: $55 million to freeze the U of M’s tuition, after that DFLers want to spend $65 million a year on a tuition freeze.

House DFL Public Safety Plan

On Monday, January 24, 2022, the House DFL members released their plan for public safety amid growing concerns over crime in the metro area. The plan includes grants for community policing as well as funds dedicated to combating the opioid epidemic. The proposal also invests heavily in equipment to aid in crime reduction. Here are the highlights from the proposal:

  • $40 million in community safety grants aimed at finding innovative ways to prevent crime; 
  • $22 million local community policing grants focused on community building and partnerships with community groups for crisis response and expanding co-responder teams;
  • $22 million in criminal investigation grants. The funds are to be used for evidence processing technology, hiring and retention of investigatory personnel, and resources for victims’ families;
  • $10 million in prevention and education strategies;
  • $2.5 million for body cameras;
  • $450,000 for four new investigators with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to investigate alleged police misconduct;
  • $50,000 for recruiting officers, promoting education and training in the community police model, and diversifying the background of licensed police officers.

Gov. Waltz Public Safety Plan & Healthcare

Gov. Walz released yet another piece of his supplemental budget last Thursday, January 27, 2022. This time, the focus was on public safety and healthcare. The plan seeks to address violent crime and increase access to healthcare for low-income Minnesotans. In the past, Walz has stated that he will not oppose a recreational marijuana bill. However, he has now come out in full support of legalizing recreational cannabis.  

  • Crime Reduction: $300 million investment over three years to counties, cities, and tribes to fund flexible ways to meet public safety expectations. These funds also include money for recruiting new officers.
  • Violent Crime Initiative: This initiative will emphasize forensic science to identify offenders and provide a clearer analysis of those who commit crimes.
  • Legalization of Cannabis: Gov. Walz expressly supported the legalization of cannabis for adult use in Minnesota. His budget proposal would create an office of cannabis management and grants for those seeking to enter the cannabis market.
  • Affordable Healthcare: The Governor would create a MinnesotaCare buy-in option for people without health insurance. The proposal would also fund a study that would examine the logistics of free primary care.
  • Housing: The Walz administration released a variety of housing initiatives, including: 
    • $10 million annual investment to an estimated 1425 homes for housing support;
    • $95 million over three years in emergency shelter services to improve and expand overnight emergency shelter options for individuals and families experiencing homelessness;
    • $100 million in fiscal year 2023 to preserve and improve existing housing;
    • $12 million in fiscal year 2023 and $20 million in fiscal year 2024-25 for additional down payment and closing cost assistance;
    • $19.5 million in fiscal year 2023 and an increase of $19 million in fiscal year 2024-25 to the Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program.
  • Veterans: $40 million investment in the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide services to gold star families as well as $1.1 million investment in the homes for veterans’ program and $8.8 million investment for housing options. 

Important Dates to Remember:

The 2022 Minnesota Legislative calendar, complete with dates for the holiday recess, is below:

  • January 31, 2022 Legislative session begins
  • February 15, 2022 Redistricting maps expected to be released by the courts
  • TBD, February 2022 Updated budget forecast from MMB
  • March 25, 2022 1st Committee Deadline - committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin.
  • April 1, 2022 2nd Committee Deadline - committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other house.
  • April 8, 2022 3rd Committee Deadline - committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.
  • April 9 - April 17, 2022 Easter/Passover Break
  • May 16, 2022 Constitutional deadline to adjourn
  • August 9, 2022 Primary Election Day
  • November 8, 2022 General Election Date

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


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