Heading into a legislative break, the Minnesota Senate has made significant progress on passing a balanced budget. Omnibus bills are being moved to Finance Committee and have had extensive hearing and discussion in committees. “In an odd year, the budget is always the number one priority. I’m pleased that we negotiated a timeline with the Speaker, and as of today are meeting the deadlines we agreed upon. This promises to allow plenty of time to negotiate our positions and end session on time,” said Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa). “The one item that is very behind schedule is a vote on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. In fact, it’s an historic delay on the obligation of the legislature to appoint members to the board. I am concerned the end of session negotiations will be delayed by future internal fights within the House DFL Caucus.”
The Regent Candidate Advisory Committee (RCAC) and a joint committee of the legislature fully vetted and recommended a highly qualified slate of candidates. Two months after the RCAC made their recommendations, the House has yet to schedule a joint convention to hold an election.
The Minnesota Senate made significant progress on challenging issues as soon as session began. Major accomplishments like providing funding and accountability for MNLARS, emergency relief for farmers and schools due to historic cold and snow, disaster relief for flooding, fixing a toxic waste pit in Andover, and hands-free driving are signs of positive progress between the House and Senate, and Republicans and Democrats working together.
However, the Senate has many bills with bipartisan support that have also not received a vote on the House, including: Reinsurance, funding for Deputy Registrars as a result in MNLARS losses, preventing future legal delays on Line 3, Pharmacy Benefit Manger licensing and regulations, transparency in hospital billing, and Direct Primary Care agreements.
“We are working together to accomplish our budget goals,” Gazelka continued, “And I hope that this cooperative arrangement can continue. I also made a serious and genuine offer to hold hearings on gun control legislation if the Speaker agreed to first have stand-alone votes on the measures in the House. The House DFL refused this offer and instead inserted the controversial bills into an omnibus spending package, thus ‘obstructing’ any progress. By sticking these policies in an omnibus bill, or having press conferences to put pressure on us is not what Minnesotans want. They expect us to work together respectfully. I know there are areas where we disagree, but when we have common ground, that’s where we can move forward.”