The week leading up to the final committee deadline was marked by long floor sessions and daily hearings held by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees that moved omnibus bills to the floor. The upcoming week will be devoted to continued passage of omnibus bills during floor sessions, with the expectation that all omnibus bills will pass by April 26, setting the stage for conference committees to begin their work.
Senate Omnibus Bills
The Senate started the week passing SF489, sponsored by Sen. Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), which is the first of two Omnibus Pension and Retirement bills. Sen. Pappas informed members that this was the non-controversial omnibus bill that primarily makes technical changes to pension and retirement laws. The bill passed on a 48-12 vote.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed SF671, sponsored by Sen. Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) and SF1589, sponsored by Sen. Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids). SF671 is the Omnibus Judiciary and Public Safety Appropriations Bill and increases appropriations by $88 million. The bill includes a salary increase for judges and an interagency agreement between the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services to ensure inmates are provided with medical assistance. SF671 passed on a vote of 47-18.
SF158 is the Omnibus State Government, Veterans and Military Affairs Bill, which increases appropriations by $28 million. The bill includes salary increases for the Governor, state agency heads and legislators as well as providing a number of appropriations to state initiatives, programs and agencies. The bill passed on a 34-32 vote.
On Thursday, on a 46-18 vote, the Senate passed SF1236, sponsored by Sen. Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka). SF1236 is the Omnibus Higher Education Appropriations Bill, which is designed to fund institutions and the state grant program and address the current and future workforce needs of the state. One of the key measures in the bill is a protection against tuition increases at the University of Minnesota by tying the appropriation to a tuition freeze.
House Omnibus Bills
On Monday, the House passed the Omnibus Jobs and Economic Development Finance Bill on a 75-57 vote. HF729, sponsored by Rep. Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), spends nearly $235 million on programs designed to create jobs and spur economic development. The bill includes housing provisions that will increase base funding for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency by $22 million and a commerce initiative to create the Office of Broadband Development as a subset within the state Department of Commerce for the improvement of broadband services.
Also on Monday, Rep. Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington), chair of the House Tax Committee, released the Omnibus Tax Bill. HF677 includes nearly $2.5 billion in new revenue and creates a new fourth tier bracket for state income taxes. The bill also closes some corporate tax deductions and credits, imposes a sports memorabilia tax, and increases taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. The new revenue will fund education programs, provide property tax relief and increase local government aid. The bill passed the House Taxes Committee on a party line 17-11 vote. The bill will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday.
On Thursday, the House passed the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance and Policy Bill after a 69-61 vote. HF976, sponsored by Rep. Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis), provides for appropriations of $830 million — $750 million will support environment and natural resources initiatives and the rest will fund agriculture programs.
On Saturday, the House and Senate will each hold rare weekend floor sessions. The House will hear the Omnibus State Government Finance Bill, sponsored by Rep. Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), and the Omnibus Legacy Bill, sponsored by Rep. Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis). The Senate will begin working its way through bills on the General Orders list.