Competing Budgets

by Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

Lengthy floor sessions ensued this week as House and Senate lawmakers took up supplemental budget bills in their respective chambers. The Republican House had three bills to debate over the course of the week. The DFL Senate had all of its proposals for spending the $900 million budget surplus in a single bill, which was scheduled for a vote Thursday. In addition, lawmakers found time for some potentially contentious committee hearings this week on Real ID and guns.

Education Omnibus Budget Bill

First out of the gate was the House Education budget bill, taken up on the floor Monday afternoon.

The GOP proposed budget for schools and state colleges and universities does not spend any new money in the current two-year budget cycle. Instead, spending on some new proposals is expected to be paid for with $55 million from faster repayment of state loans by some school districts.  House Republicans this year have proposed largely holding the line on the current $42 billion two-year budget.

Among new programs are proposals to recruit and retain teachers of color in Minnesota, where statewide only 4 percent of teachers are minorities. Also, the bill would offer loan forgiveness and tuition incentives for educators. There is also grant money for para-professionals in education who are interested in becoming licensed teachers. The teacher workforce effort had bipartisan support.

Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, highlighted a measure she sponsored that would form a working group to examine school discipline problems, following several high-profile assaults on teachers. Teachers would be notified if students with past incidents of violence are placed in their classrooms.

House DFLers largely criticized the budget proposal, arguing that with a $900 million projected budget surplus, legislators should spend more on higher education and tuition relief.  A provision requiring additional oversight of fetal tissue research at the University of Minnesota also generated some heated debate.

Agriculture/Environment/Energy/Jobs Budget Bill

The House passed a supplemental budget bill Wednesday that includes new spending to expand rural broadband, promote tourism, and tackle racial economic disparities.

The measure adds $12 million in new spending overall. House Democrats criticized the GOP bill as another missed opportunity to make key investments with the state’s $900 million budget surplus. House Republicans want to use that surplus for transportation projects and tax cuts. The bill includes $6 million for proposals aimed at reducing racial economic disparities. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, however, is seeking $100 million for similar efforts and Senate Democrats want $91 million. Democrats also took aim at the bill’s broadband investment of $15 million in 2017, as it is just a fraction of what the Governor and Senate are seeking.  House Republicans countered that their plan also comes with a pledge to make another $25 million broadband investment in 2018. Committee Chair Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) said the money will help the state leverage additional federal money and private sector matches.

The House bill includes a repeal of the 2014 law allowing unionization of child care workers, money to complete the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System project in southwestern Minnesota and money for anticipated lawsuits related to the PolyMet mining project. It also includes cuts to the Minnesota Investment Fund, Job Creation Fund, and eliminates money for the Minnesota Film Board (an incentive program used to lure moviemakers to the state). Garofalo said those government subsidies and perks have primarily benefited the Twin Cities metro area, and thinks a better strategy is to get investment in infrastructure, primarily in Greater Minnesota.

Health and Human Services/State Department/Public Safety

The last of three budget bills in the House, HHS/state government/public safety, was approved in the wee-hours Friday morning following a twelve hour debate.

The budget bill would clamp down on state agency travel and cut salaries for commissioners. On the health care side, it would start the process of shifting Minnesota into a federal health care exchange and out of MNSURE, the state based exchange. It includes programs for integrating substance abuse and mental health care, reductions to counties’ share of chemical dependency payments, public health program eligibility verification, and increased funding for training physicians serving Greater Minnesota. The bill would require licensing of facilities that perform abortions, and imposes a prohibition on facilities that perform abortions from receiving Title X and federal family planning grants.

Under the Public Safety article, the bill increases penalties for driving unlicensed and failing to stop for a school bus. It would also prohibit use of a drone within one mile of a public safety helicopter.  For state department spending, the bill delivers a one-time $500,000 appropriation for MN.IT Services to perform a study of cybersecurity across state government.

Gov. Mark Dayton warned that the combination of zero funding for areas where he proposed funding combined with troubling policy measures would make it unlikely for him to sign off on the bill in its current form. House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) defended the House budget approach, which he said is aimed at preserving the surplus for use on road construction and tax cuts.

Senate Omnibus Supplemental

In the Senate, majority Democrats used a single budget bill that would carve up much of the surplus for new or expanded programs. The Senate supplemental spending plan is similar to what Gov. Dayton is seeking.

The DFL bill includes spending increases for education, rural broadband expansion, and programs to tackle racial economic disparities. It also funds a freight rail director position, improves emergency response for oil trains, and hires additional rail inspectors.

Senate Republicans argued that the money should go toward road and bridge funding, which was an unresolved issue from last session. Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) said last year’s unfinished work is the reason there is a surplus. Senate Transportation Chair Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) opposed the effort to use one-time spending rather than continue to work on a long-range funding measure for roads, bridges and transit. Senate Democrats favor a gas tax increase, while House Republicans insist on using only existing revenues. Conference committee negotiations on last year’s transportation bill began today.

The last amendment of the evening, offered by Senate Taxes Vice Chair Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), created a hostile work environment. She offered a provision reallocating Republican Senate office space inside the State Office Building to the Revisor of Statutes. DFL lawmakers moved into the new $90 million Minnesota Senate Building that they supported before the start of the 2016 session. GOP lawmakers who opposed the project refused to move in until after the 2016 elections. The controversial amendment cancels the current lease and significantly reduces the amount of space available for lawmakers. Republicans expressed outrage. Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) said “This is the first time in my life that I’ve been embarrassed to be a Minnesota senator.”

The competing supplemental budget plans in the Senate and House will need to go to conference to be resolved.


The House Capital Investment Committee Chair Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said Tuesday the fate of a House bonding bill is closely linked to the outcome of lawmakers’ negotiations over comprehensive tax and transportation legislation.

Even-year legislative sessions are generally regarded as “bonding years,” when lawmakers pass a large-scale borrowing package that helps fund infrastructure projects across the state.  Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $1.4 billion package — it would be the largest in state history — and Senate DFLers said they would like to see a similarly sized bill, although no proposal has yet been unveiled.

House Republican leadership earlier this month released budget targets that call for a $600 million bonding bill. Bonding bills require a sixty percent supermajority to pass. Torkelson described the bonding bill as “dessert” – something that comes at the end of session.

House lawmakers on the bonding committee heard dozens of bills that laid out the capital investment needs of state agencies and local governments across the state. Torkelson said lawmakers are evaluating and prioritizing projects now so they are ready when the time comes.

The Senate Capital Investment Committee also met Tuesday, hearing county transportation requests. Transportation Chair Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) testified that he did not want to advocate for bonding requests as they are one time funding and he strongly believes a long-term funding plan is imperative. The Committee heard about the Moorhead rail grade separation project and the I-35-Lake Street Station projects, among others. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin made a strong pitch for a half-cent sales tax increase to replace the need for future bonding requests. Senate Capital Investment Committee Chair LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Plummer) concluded that he hopes to have a transportation package this session. He announced that he plans to unveil an omnibus bonding bill Monday morning.

Real ID

Minnesotans could begin applying for federal Real ID Act-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards by Oct. 1, 2016, under a bill a House committee advanced Monday.

Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Smith (R-Maple Grove), the bill would lay out new requirements for issuing the more secure state IDs, including new security features on the cards, added proof of residency requirements and extended data retention timelines.

The bill would bring Minnesota into compliance with the federal law to make state-issued IDs more secure in the face of terrorism concerns, and help the state beat a 2018 deadline requiring enhanced IDs to board domestic commercial flights.

Currently, Minnesotans cannot gain entrance to secure federal facilities and military bases using only standard state-issued IDs.  Gov. Mark Dayton requested a new Department of Homeland Security extension to allow Minnesota IDs to be used to enter those facilities while the state works toward satisfying federal requirements.

The House Civil Law and Data Practices and Government Operations Committees both approved the bill and referred it to the Transportation Committee. The Senate companion passed out of the Transportation Committee and was referred to the State and Local Government Committee.

Every state will be federal Real ID compliant by the 2020 deadline, when the Department of Homeland Security has said it will issue no more extensions to states that do not meet the new standards.

Background Checks for Firearms

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a well-attended, informational hearing on Tuesday on two gun bills. One bill would require criminal background checks on all gun sales. The other bill would allow law enforcement or family members to get court orders to prevent people who pose a danger to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) described his bills as common sense solutions that would help keep Minnesotans safer. Latz wants to expand the criminal background check requirement to gun shows, personal sales and online transactions. Supporters and opponents spent more than two hours testifying. Bill proponents told lawmakers of their personal stories and concerns over gun shows and online sales. Gun rights advocates spoke against the bill and disputed many of the statistics used by its supporters, saying most criminals obtain their guns from other criminals. They also warned that this bill would move the state closer to a gun owner registry.

Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) described the hearing as “political mumbo jumbo” to get an issue “spiked up” for the election. Latz said gun control is an unavoidable campaign issue that will shake out district by district this fall.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.