Senate Republicans released a bonding bill this week that is very different from the House version. The $497 million bill includes $25 million for State Capitol restoration; the House has a separate bill that provides $220 million for the renovations. The bill includes $20 million for local bridge replacement, $36 million for supportive housing infrastructure, and $32 million for the Rochester Convention Center, $10 million for the St. Cloud Civic Center expansion. The Senate version also includes $75 million more for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities than the House version. The bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee Thursday and is on its way to the Senate floor for a vote.
The House passed their Omnibus Health and Human Services Bill Thursday evening by a 78-50 vote. DFLers tried unsuccessfully to reinstate reimbursement rates for personal care assistants who provide care for their relatives. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis) said there is something fundamentally wrong with asking people caring for their disabled relatives to pay more but to give tax cuts to millionaires. Thissen said the bill is essentially a healthcare payment shift. “We're saying we’ll pay for this—but not until next year,” Thissen said. Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), the author of the bill said it contains some really good provisions. The bill creates new options and new freedoms and is going to make a difference for the disabled, Abeler said.
The Senate passed the Omnibus Liquor Bill Wednesday by a 58-4 vote. The bill was amended on the floor to include a provision allowing beer to be sold at the University of Minnesota’s TCF bank stadium. For the first time since the stadium opened in 2009, liquor may be sold in stadium suites as well as designated areas in and around the stadium. The House passed their version of the bill Friday by a 107-16 vote.
The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Transportation Omnibus bill and it is now headed to the House floor. The bill includes a provision allowing driver's license and identification card fees to be paid by credit or debit card with a convenience fee, allows a person under age 18 to complete the classroom/theory portion of driver’s education online, and expands the authority for buses to operate on freeway shoulders.
The House passed a bill which will allow tickets for major sporting and entertainment events to be resold. Opposition to the bill came from members who believe the bill will greatly increase ticket prices by helping out large-scale, out-of-state, ticket scalpers. Some venues currently require a credit card and photo identification when presenting event tickets, making it difficult for parents to buy concert tickets for their children or friends to buy tickets for friends. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Hoppe, passed the House by an 83-50 vote. The Senate companion has stalled in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
The Senate Finance committee met this morning to take up the bills listed above. In a move that caught many by surprise, the Racino bill was added as an amendment to HF873. Senator Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) presented the bill and the Committee Chair, Claire Robling (R-Jordan) offered her Racino bill as an amendment to the House File. Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) offered a variety of amendments including prohibition of advertising appealing to younger audiences, prohibition of promotions, restriction on hours of operation. Sen. Robling offered an amendment restricting liquor on the gaming floor. All amendments failed as did a number of procedural motions to move the bill to the Health and Human Services Committee by Hann and to move the bill to Local Government and Elections Committee by Dick Cohen (DFL-St. Paul). Cohen also tried to lay the bill on the table which was also defeated.
The bill, with the Racino added, passed out of the committee to the Senate floor on a voice vote. When division was called only three raised their hands in opposition Cohen, Hann and Sen. Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls). The bill will now go to the Senate Floor where it can be taken up for a floor vote of the full Senate. Because it is a House File, if the bill passes the Senate, the House could simply vote to concur which is an up or down vote with no amendments.