The Legislature came back from Easter/Passover break this week for the final phase of the session. The House and Senate will hold daily floor sessions to pass a long list of bills, but the main focus will be on reaching a global agreement on the details of the second omnibus tax bill, supplemental budget bill and the bonding bill. The Women's Economic Security Act passed the Senate and is headed to a conference committee.
End of Session Negotiations
The House and Senate will be holding daily floor sessions in order to work through a long list of bills that are on the floor. However, much of the focus will be on three major pieces of legislation: the second omnibus tax bill, the supplemental budget omnibus bill and the bonding bill.
The bills will be key to a global agreement among Governor Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) and House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis). The Governor has indicated that he is willing to support an increase of $100 million in spending beyond his proposed increase to give the House and Senate room to negotiate a compromise.
Second Omnibus Tax Bill
The second omnibus tax bill, HF3167, authored by Representative Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington) was heard in a conference committee on Thursday and will likely be the last bill to pass. The bill includes several property tax provisions and specific sales tax exemptions. The bill also adopts federal tax policies, various tax increment financing provisions for municipalities and "unsession" provisions which eliminate redundant or unnecessary laws and regulations currently in law.
In addition to Lenczewski, the four other House conferees are Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), Greg Davids (R-Preston), Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) and Linda Slocum (DFL-Richfield). The Senate conferees are Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis), Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City) and Paul Gazelka (R-Baxter).
Supplemental Budget Omnibus Bill
The supplemental budget omnibus bill, HF3172, authored by Representative Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal) has been in conference committee since Tuesday. The House version of the bill totals $322 million, while the Senate version would spend $209 million. The Governor's supplemental budget proposal would spend $141 million. The conference committee completed a walk through examination comparing House and Senate language in articles related to higher education, jobs and economic development, housing, state government, public safety, transportation, environment and natural resources and agriculture, K-12 education, and health and human services. The committee will likely meet late in the session in order to reach an overall agreement.
In addition to Carlson, the four other House conferees are Reps. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) and Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis). The Senate conferees are Sens. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul), David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), Charles Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul) and Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka).
HF2490, authored by Representative Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) allocates a total of $850 million in general obligation bonds to fund public works projects across the state. Another package of capital investment projects, HF1068, authored by Representative Hausman, would spend an additional $125 million for bonding projects using cash from the budget surplus. HF2490 will need a supermajority of 81 votes to pass on the House floor, while HF1068 requires a simple majority. Governor Dayton's bonding recommendations consisted of $986 million in general obligation bonds. The Senate has yet to release a bonding proposal but is expected to release its capital investment package on Monday.
Women's Economic Security Act
HF2536, sponsored by Senate President Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 50-14. The bill provides increases in unpaid leave from six to 12 weeks and expands family leave and reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees. The bill also increases the enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors, allows victims of domestic violence to qualify for unemployment, and enacts a study of a state retirement savings plan for women who do not have an employer-provided option. Due to some differences between the Senate and House language, the bill has been sent to a conference committee.
In addition to Pappas, the Senate conferees are Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport) and Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center). The House conferees are Representatives Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) and Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls).