April 26 - 2019

Well, our lawmakers returned from spring break on Tuesday morning - and jumped right back in where they left off. Budget Omnibus b ills saw lengthy floor debates, amendments and actions in both bodies.  Here's a look at some of the major issues heading into the final four weeks of session:   Big issues in dispute as Legislature approaches homestretch  
Next Wednesday (May 1) 
will mark another legislative deadline. This will be the last day for both bodies to pass all major finance b ills and appoint conference committees.

Governor's Office
While the legislature spent long nights debating amendments and omnibus bills, Governor Walz had PR issue to deal with. It turns out, the process by which the IRRRB hired a new Assistant Commissioner had many people scratching their heads. In the end, former legislator and congressional candidate, Joe Radinovich stepped down from his role amid allegations of cronyism.

Meanwhile, during the break Governor Walz filled his last open commissioner post, naming Tarek Tomes to lead the State IT department. This position has significant responsibility and faces a high level of scrutiny given the recent MnLARS debacle.  
House Omnibus Bills
Minnesota House members had many late night floor  debates  this week and the result was the passage of the following omnibus bills:

But there is more work to do next week, as they still have to pass these bills:

.... when all of that is complete, the conference committees will begin in earnest. If you'd like to follow along, here's the link for the whole shebang:  Fiscal Analysis Department: Minnesota House of Representatives Legislative Session Tracking Sheets Or, if you prefer, here are some individual news stories describing how they got to this point: 

MN House approves $900M omnibus education finance bill

Senate Omnibus Bills
Members of the MN  Senate were also busy voting on omnibus bills this week. They did not have quite the same level of lively debate as the House but that was not unexpected, since the Senate is traditionally the more collegial of the two bodies. Here's what they've accomplished thus far:

Next week they will take up:

While the House spending bills include many top priorities this session, the Senate is taking a much more reserved path by limiting so called "big need" items. Of course this also translates into a smaller spending proposals  - which could give them an advantage in conference committee negotiations.
Meeting Our MN Commissioners
The people appointed by the Governor to lead our state agencies can have a significant impact on the policies that are created and enforced in Minnesota. Sometimes these people fly under the radar. Whenever there is an opportunity, I will link to stories or interviews that give a glimpse into who some of these people are.

This week we give you an opportunity to learn a little bit about DNR Commissioner, Sarah Strommen.  A conversation with DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen  

If you have missed any of these past features or have wondered who comprises the Governor's cabinet, here is a helpful article for review.
Top Legislative News 
What's Next?

Well, we are on the verge of Conference Committee season and that is always an interesting time. Essentially, c onference
committee time is when the differences between to two committees are hashed out and compromises are found.  

These committees are typically made up of 10 legislators (5 from each side); four members from each majority  caucus and one from each minority caucus. In order for something to pass it needs to get 3 votes from each side, not just a simple majority.

These can be interesting affairs  in which lots of negotiating and posturing happens. Chairs are currently preparing for conference committee and the sometimes- intense negotiations that can occur...


While I am certain that at some point there will be battles - and some people may get so mad they want to spit fire ... I do not, however, expect to see any dragons, sadly. 

Cap O'Rourke
President, O'Rourke Strategic Consulting 

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | cap@orourkesc.com | www.orourkesc.com/
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