Public Safety Takes Main Stage

The fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center just over a week ago dominated the legislative landscape last week. Between the closing of the Chauvin trial and protests over the Daunte Wright shooting, the Governor and legislators are on edge. The People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus has called for leadership to suspend the advancement of omnibus budget bills until police accountability and criminal justice reform measures are addressed. The House Public Safety bill contains numerous provisions for police accountability reform measures, but the Senate’s companion legislation contains none. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is willing to listen to proposals, but he has made no real commitment on when the Senate GOP majority would do that or if they have intentions to move anything forward on this front.

4 Weeks Remain as Omnibus Budget Bills Continue

The 2021 regular legislative session will end in just four weeks, on Monday, May 17. House and Senate leadership continue to march the major budget bills through the process, which this week involved floor session debates on numerous amendments in each body. For example, the House will take up the omnibus Education budget and policy bill (HF 1065) later today, and we saw almost 80 amendments posted for the bill by Friday afternoon. Very few of these amendments will be adopted, but these debates are rank and file members’ last opportunity to make their point and get their vote on issues that are important to them.

The Senate Finance Committee will take up their Omnibus education budget and policy bill (SF 960) Tuesday morning. The Senate may get to a floor debate on the education bill later this week, but it could spill over into new week. The education conference committee will likely be appointed during the week of April 26.

House Capital Investment Advances a Bonding Bill

Last week the House Capital Investment Committee began to comb through a $1.03 billion bonding bill, which includes $5 million for rural child care facilities, $3.150 million for libraries and $10 million for Early Childhood learning facilities. The Sponsor of the bill, Rep. Fue Lee (DFL-MPLS), specifically referred to the importance of the early childhood provisions in passing the bill. The bill was approved last Friday and is now headed to Ways and Means.

Broadband Funding Advancing in Agricultural Budget Bills

The Minnesota Senate passed the Agriculture Omnibus Bill (SF 958) last Wednesday. The bill includes $40 million for the Border-to-Border grant program with the possibility of up to $120 million if federal funds become available. Changes were made to the definition of broadband in statute (including the term fixed wireless), annual mapping changes and an increase in the state match to 55%. Additionally, $10 million was set aside in the first year of the biennium for unserved areas.

The House has moved their Agriculture Omnibus Bill (HF 1524) to the floor. It contains $30 million in the first year of the biennium for the grant program. We expect a debate and vote on the bill this week.