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January 11, 2019



The Minnesota Legislature Completes its First Week

On Tuesday, the 91st Minnesota Legislature convened the first session of the two year biennium. The first day, generally filled with ceremonial procedures and swift organizational resolutions, instead saw a heated debate in the House of Representatives regarding proposed changes to committee structure and the temporary rules of procedure. With families in attendance, House Republicans argued that changes to the committee structure would result in the committee process being less accessible and less transparent to the public. Democrats, however, argued the opposite, stating that the rules adjustment – which permits a bill to be heard in multiple committees on the same day – streamlines the process and assures all legislation will receive a proper hearing in all committees with jurisdiction over the proposal. In the end, the Democrats were successful in making their changes, but the unexpected and lengthy floor session is an early sign that the 2019 legislative session will be full of spirited debate.February. 

House


State The first day brought the official election and swearing in of a new Speaker of the House, Representative Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). With a new, sixteen-seat majority, Speaker Hortman outlined her caucus’s “Minnesota Values Agenda,” comprised of ten bills (House Files 1-10). These bills include:

  • HF 1: The Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act (Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn)
  • HF 2: K-12 Student Support Legislation (Rep. Heather Edelson)
  • HF 3: More affordable health care through a MinnesotaCare Buy-In (Rep. Tina Liebling)
  • HF 4: Preventing prescription drug price gouging and holding pharmaceutical companies accountable (Rep. John Lesch)
  • HF 5: Paid Family & Medical Leave and Earned Sick & Safe Time  (Rep. Laurie Halverson)
  • HF 6: Wage Theft prevention and enforcement (Rep. Tim Mahoney)
  • HF 7: Rural broadband expansion (Rep. Rob Ecklund)
  • HF 8: Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people through criminal background checks (Rep. Dave Pinto)
  • HF 9: Preventing gun violence through Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Rep. Ruth Richardson)
  • HF 10: Protecting Minnesotans from sexual harassment (Rep. Kelly Moller)

These first ten bills (chief authors noted in parentheses) have already been introduced and referred to the proper committees where staff is working to schedule hearings.

Senate

In the Republican controlled Senate, Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) was officially selected by his caucus as Senate President.  As president, Sen. Miller is charged with presiding over Senate floor sessions and managing the overall agenda for floor sessions as hundreds of pieces of legislation move between committees and the floor.

The GOP caucus also announced their 2019 Legislative Session priorities by introducing their first five bills (Senate Files 1-5). These priorities include (chief authors listed in parentheses):

  • SF 1: Supporting mental health (Sen. Julie Rosen)
  • SF 2: Making child care more accessible and affordable (Sen. Karin Housley)
  • SF 3: Lowering health care costs (Sen. Rich Draheim)
  • SF 4: Making government more effective and accountable, and eliminating fraud (Sen. Jim Abeler)
  • SF 5: Making our tax code simpler and fairer (Sen. Roger Chamberlain)

Governor

Governor Tim Walz set the tone of his Administration on Wednesday by signing his first Executive Order creating the “One Minnesota Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion". The Council, made up of administration and state agency officials, is charged to develop recommendations to Governor Walz and his Administration for reducing inequities that develop from disparities in race, geography, and economic status.

Looking Ahead

The Legislature begins week two on Monday January 14, with committees beginning initial overview hearings in both the House and Senate.

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


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