Legislative Top 5: March 19, 2021

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By the end of today, the Minnesota legislature’s second deadline will have come and gone. At this point, all bills are supposed to have cleared all policy committees. Thus, committees that have no financial jurisdiction have concluded their regular meetings, though they may be called back to hear a provision that missed a deadline or conduct an informational hearing. Finance committees will continue their work next week, before taking a break from March 27-April 5. By April 9th, the third deadline, all omnibus finance bills will be public.

Who’s in charge?

In an unusual move early in the week, the minority House Republican caucus announced the floor session agenda for the week. They held a press conference to lament their belief that the majority caucus has been the least productive in modern history, and to provide notice that they intended to try to bring four different proposals—creation of the SAFE account, PPP tax conformity, unemployment insurance tax exemption, and in-person summer school program and funding—to the floor throughout the course of the week. Each of the procedural motions to bring up these issues failed.

Paid leave efforts continue in House

House Democrats have continued to advance two proposals through committees that they argue provide more family-friendly workplace environments. One proposal is to require a paid family and medical leave program for most workers in the state; another would require that workplaces provide earned safe and sick time to workers. While it seems these bills have traveled to nearly every committee in the House, the Senate hasn’t had any hearings on either issue.

Senate makes a statement

The Senate announced their budget targets on Tuesday, providing them with another opportunity to highlight their priorities. Included in their $51.9 billion budget proposal is a 40% allocation for education, 31% for healthcare, nearly $600 million for tax relief and a 5% reduction in administrative costs.

Governor revises his budget

As expected on Thursday, Governor Tim Walz released his revised budget proposal, based on the February budget forecast. While the updated forecast showed a dramatic swing from a deficit to a $1.6 billion projected surplus, the revised budget was comprised of tweaks to the original proposal, rather than full-scale changes. The biggest shifts occurred in the tax area, where increases were dramatically scaled back. For example, Walz dropped his proposed tax increase on cigarettes, but the proposal maintains a proposed fifth-tier tax bracket.

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.

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