May 3 - 2019

We are now officially in conference committee season! Typically conference committees - at least at the start - are a pretty tame and mild-mannered affairs ... this year is not typical. There are 10 budget conference committees that were, according to self imposed deadlines, supposed to have been appointed by May 1st. In reality, heading into the first weekend (May 4th & 5th), we have 8 of the 10 committees appointed (the Senate has not appointed Education and Transportation members yet). Three committees called meetings for today, but the majority of Senators did not show for two of those - and there is a pretty clear disagreement about just who has control of the gavels moving forward. Fun times!

The Health, Jobs and Tax Conference Committees all "met" today.  Taxes were first, at 9 am and Sen Chamberlain was one of only two senators at the table; Sen Rest being the other. Chamberlain quickly expressed his frustration at Speaker Hortman for breaking the understanding he had, that they would be waiting until Monday to meet. As a result, no other Senators showed. They walked through the spreadsheet and then adjourned.

The Jobs conference committee also had a hearing scheduled - but again, only Sen Pratt showed for the Senate side and he was very clear in his frustration as well; in this case, with Chair Mahoney. Pratt eventually walked out of the hearing after many protests, questions and a heated exchange with Rep Mahoney.

Health Committee had a fairly lengthy - and certainly more typical - hearing today; going through the spreadsheets and conducting business as it should be. This is ironic given that the health bill probably has the largest difference to overcome. Even so, there seemed to be some confusion about who would have the gavel next.

Some Historical context: Conference Committees are comprised of 10 legislators (5 from each body) and they have joint chairs. Whomever has the gavel gets to set the meeting agenda and historically that would switch after each meeting. At some point in the past, chairs began stalling to call meetings when they had the gavel, so a number of years ago they instituted a joint rule that the gavel would switch every 24 hours (except Sunday) so no single legislator could simply prevent hearings from taking place.

Conference Committees
Conference Committees - Schedule
For updates call 651-296-0504
Omnibus agriculture, rural development and housing 
SF 2226/HF 2200
Senate Conferees: Westrom, Weber, Goggin, Draheim, Dziedzic
House Conferees: Poppe, Hausman, Pelowski, Vang, Gunther
1100 Minnesota Senate Building 

Omnibus E-12 education bill
SF 7/HF 2400
Senate Conferees: tbd
House Conferees: Davnie, Youakim, Pinto, Sandstede, Urdahl
5 State Office Building

Omnibus environment and natural resources 
SF 2314/HF 2209
Senate Conferees: Ingebrigtsen, Ruud, Eichorn, Johnson, Tomassoni
House Conferees: Hansen, Persell, Fischer, Becker-Finn, Nelson, N.
G-3 Capitol

Omnibus health and human services 
SF 2452 /HF 2414
Senate Conferees: Benson, Abeler, Utke, Jensen, Marty
House Conferees: Liebling, Moran, Schultz, Halverson, Hamilton
1200 Minnesota Senate Building
Omnibus higher education 
SF 2415 /HF 2544
Senate Conferees: Anderson, P., Draheim, Jensen, Relph, Clausen
House Conferees: Bernardy, Pryor, Lien, Klevorn, Nornes 
123 Capitol

Omnibus jobs, energy and commerce bill
SF 2611/HF 2208
Senate Conferees: Pratt, Dahms, Osmek, Housley, Simonson
House Conferees: Mahoney, Wagenius, Stephenson, Long, Hassan
10 State Office Building

Omnibus judiciary and public safety bill
SF 802/HF 2792
Senate Conferees: Limmer, Anderson, B., Johnson, Lang, Latz
House Conferees: Mariani, Lesch, Moller, Pinto, Zerwas
120 State Office Building

Omnibus state government bill
SF 2227/HF 1935
Senate Conferees: Kiffmeyer, Anderson, B., Koran, Mathews, Carlson
House Conferees: Nelson, M., Freiberg, Ecklund, Kiel, Dehn
G-23 Capitol

Omnibus tax bill
SF 5/HF 2125
Senate Conferees: Chamberlain, Senjem, Dahms, Howe, Rest
House Conferees: Marquart, Loeffler, Lislegard, Gomez, Davids 
G-15 Capitol

Omnibus transportation bill
SF 1093/HF 1555
Senate Conferees: tbd
House Conferees: Hornstein, Koegel, Tabke, Richardson, Torkelson
200 State Office Building
What's Next?

Both House and Senate leaders have said they want to have budget targets set by May 6th. This is not an impossible goal, but given that there are major disagreements about what side even has the gavel .. and two conference committees won't even be named until Monday ... let's just say, I have my doubts. I do know that the leaders are having ongoing discussions and I would expect those will continue in some form, over the weekend.

Next week I expect all conference committee committees to be running full steam ahead and this likely means there will be some contentious debates and maybe even a ... another walkout. If budget targets are not agreed upon by next weekend it will be difficult to have the open type of process that all leaders have said they want and we could once again be rushing to the finish with little time to review final bills before they are passed.

Cap O'Rourke
President, O'Rourke Strategic Consulting 

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | |
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