May 5, 2017
Just over two weeks remain in the legislative session! As we rapidly approach the May 22 deadline, action at the Capitol has been in full swing. Here is an update on the happenings:
Conference Committee Update
Conference committees, which serve as the final negotiations between the House and the Senate, have been working on budget compromises throughout the week. Committees have released their proposals, which await input from Governor Dayton as to whether they can be signed into law. It is time for the Governor to participate and contribute to the negotiations.
Here is a snapshot of some of the policy and budget provisions to be adopted by the committees:
E-12 Education Budget
- A per-pupil increase of 1.5% each year, increasing the statewide average per-pupil funding by $230 and spending a total of $18.57 (a 6 plus% increase) billion over the next two years.
- The rural consortium grant program, which will advance career and technical education in Greater Minnesota.
- $500,000 for agricultural educator grants in our rural school districts.
- $4 million per biennium to assist school districts with bussing issues.
Jobs, Economic Growth, Commerce, and Energy Budget
- $15 million for broadband expansion across Greater Minnesota.
- An additional $2 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund.
- An additional $2 million for the Job Creation Fund.
- A subtraction for a portion of Social Security benefits subject to state income tax.
- A new school building bond agricultural credit, which equals a 40% offset for school building levies.
- A reduction of the statewide property tax through an elimination of the inflator and an exemption of up to $150,000 of commercial and industrial property value.
- A tax credit for beginning farmers.
- Full federal conformity to the estate tax.
- $18.5 million in new funding for the Minnesota State Grant Program.
- $68.5 million in campus support funding for the Minnesota State (formerly MnSCU) system, which includes $6 million in supplemental funding for technical and community college campuses in Greater Minnesota.
- A tuition freeze at two-year Minnesota State colleges next year, as well as a 1% tuition decrease at two-year Minnesota State colleges and a tuition freeze at four-year Minnesota State universities the following year.
- $1 million for a Workforce Scholarship Program through the Minnesota State system.
- An increase of $24 million over the next two years to the University of Minnesota.
- $600 million in Trunk Highway bonding.
- Funding for the Local Bridge Replacement Program.
- A myriad of reforms to the Metropolitan Council.
- Truck weight increases for road construction materials and straight milk trucks.
- $20 million for small cities assistance.
Capital Investment committee update
The House has released a $600 million bonding proposal, which is well short of the Senate’s bonding proposal that nears $1 billion. As we move toward the end of the session, the House and the Senate will need to work together to arrive at a bonding compromise that can attract the 60% support threshold that is needed in each body for bonding bills to pass.
Also this week, as Chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, I moved to conduct informational meetings. These meetings included a joint hearing with the Higher Education Committee to hear an overview of the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) as well as an overview from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) and Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).
Action from the Senate Floor
As we await conference committee reports, we considered several pieces of legislation on the Senate floor this week. Here are a few of the most notable:
Passed: Credit union notification requirements
- This legislation updates credit union meeting notice requirements for state-chartered credit unions to match those in effect for federally-chartered credit unions. Currently, Minnesota credit unions are required to either mail or hand deliver notifications of upcoming meetings. With this legislation, state-chartered credit unions will also have the option to deliver these notices by other means. I am pleased to report that this bill has been signed into law by Gov. Dayton.
Passed: Abortion legislation
- SF702– This bill provides that funding for abortions is limited to private sources, except to the extent necessary for continued participation in a federal program.
- SF704– This bill requires that abortion facilities are subject to the same licensing standards as medical clinics and surgical suites. It would require the Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner to license facilities where ten or more abortion per month are performed. The ten or more abortions performed each month pertain to abortions categorized as willful terminations not medically necessary. Facilities licensed under the language of this bill would be subject to MDH inspections. Each licensed abortion facility would need to be inspected prior to initial licensure and at least once every two years thereafter.
Passed: Safeguarding our cybersecurity
- SF251 – In an age where we are increasingly reliant on technology, this bill creates a legislative commission on cybersecurity to provide oversight of the state’s cybersecurity measures. The commission will review the policies and practices of state agencies about cybersecurity and make recommendations to the legislature.
Passed: Medical Assistance liens clarification
- SF 216– This bill continues to address an issue that received wide media attention last year, where MNsure enrollees under the age of 55, and receiving basic MA coverage, were being erroneously subjected to estate recovery proceedings. Last year, there was a statutory change signed in to law that limited MA estate recovery to long-term services received on or after January 1, 2014 for persons 55 years of age or older. This means that recovery prior to January 1, 2014 for person 55 years of age or older would not be limited to long-term care services. This bill removes the January 1, 2014 date, allowing MA estate recovery only for long-term services for estate claims pending or asserted on or after July 1, 2016.
David H. Senjem
3401 Minnesota Senate Building
St. Paul, MN 55155