Final Committee Deadline
Today marks the final committee deadline—the day when all omnibus finance bills must pass out of committee and advance to the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee. The only committees exempt from this deadline are the Capital Investment and Tax committees, as well as the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees. Next week (and likely spilling over into the following week), omnibus bills will get a last look in these remaining committees.
Action Moves to the Floor
The Senate announced that members should expect to vote on bills every time the Senate meets for the foreseeable future. As committees wrap up their work and the focus shifts to floor action, the same is likely for the House. Expect to see the first floor votes on omnibus bills by the middle of next week. Typically, the bills with smaller budgets and fewer controversial issues make it to the floor first.
Tax Bills in Limbo
Don’t be surprised if the tax bills are the last of the omnibus bills to be passed. As previously mentioned, the tax committees don’t have to abide by the committee deadlines. The House did release its tax bill early in the week, and not surprisingly, it contains several controversial provisions, including a new fifth income tax tier, and limits on federal conformity for Paycheck Protection Program loans. The Senate has yet to release an omnibus tax bill.
New Leader for Republican Party?
This weekend, the state Republican Party will vote for a new party chair. Incumbent chair Jennifer Carnahan is seeking re-election, but is being challenged by state Senator Mark Koran (R-North Branch). Issues in the campaign have included the future strategy of the party, including the role of allies of former President Trump, fundraising and personalities.
Minnesota has been proud of its vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID, but in recent weeks the virus has continued to spread rapidly. The state was one of the first to identify the B117 variant spreading among its population, and has since seen a significant increase in cases and hospitalizations. In spite of roughly one-third of Minnesotans being vaccinated, cases have increased approximately 60% in the last two weeks, leaving some to fear more restrictions are on the way, just as the state has been able to open up more.