Legislative Top 5: May 14, 2021

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Seventeen

With three days before the end of the regular legislative session and no global budget agreement on the horizon, only seventeen bills have passed both the House and Senate and been sent to Governor Tim Walz for his signature. In one such case, Winthrop lobbyists worked on behalf of a client to pass a bill that clarified the law regulating continuing education course provider activities. The Minnesota Department of Commerce issued an administrative bulletin in 2020 that strictly interpreted the law in such a way that upended traditional business models for continuing education course providers. The lobbying team successfully negotiated a compromise with the Department, which formed the foundation for the language of Senate File 1020, authored by Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) and Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth). The bill passed the legislature overwhelmingly and was signed into law by the Governor.

May 10, 2021

This past Monday, Minnesota received long-awaited guidance on how federal funds passed under the American Rescue Plan can be used. Along with the guidance, the state was informed that it will receive approximately $200 million more than expected, bringing the total funds coming to the state to $2.8 billion (this does not include additional funds being sent directly to tribal, local and county governments). How to use these funds has been, and will continue to be, a significant part of the budget negotiations between legislative leaders and the Governor.

May 17, 2021

According to Minnesota’s state constitution, the regular legislative session must end by the first Monday following the third Saturday of May. This year, that date falls on May 17. In odd-numbered years, the focus of the legislature is to pass a biennial budget. At this point, there is still no “global agreement” between leadership, and the legislature will not be able to pass a budget prior to the end of regular session. There will be a special session.

June 14, 2021

If they are not already in a special session for the budget, Governor Walz is expected to call a special session on June 14, which is the date that the current peacetime emergency will expire.

June 30, 2021

If the legislature doesn’t pass a new budget by June 30, a state shutdown will begin on July 1. With Minnesotans’ love for state parks and the Fourth of July weekend, avoiding a shutdown is a huge priority for state leaders. In previous shutdowns, Minnesota courts deemed certain state services “essential,” and continued funding for them, but since then, the state Supreme Court ruled that the courts do not have this power, and if the legislature does not appropriate funds, there will be no funds, even for “essential” services.

BONUS UPDATES

Today — May 14, 2021

Following updated guidance released by the CDC yesterday, Minnesota’s mask mandate is lifted effective today. The state’s guidance allows local jurisdictions and businesses to continue requiring masks if they choose; Minneapolis and St. Paul are keeping their mandates in place, at least for now. Additionally, both students and staff are required to continue masking until the end of the current school year.

January 31, 2022

The Minnesota Legislature will reconvene next year on January 31, 2022.

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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