Hello and welcome Thursday. Here is the summary.
1. It’s Thursday but still no special session. Minnesota lawmakers begin Thursday without a scheduled special session, but with many more details in hand on the bills they need to pass. Although leaders have hoped to schedule their session for today, Gov. Tim Walz has yet to announce when he will recall lawmakers to pass budget measures that were not completed at the end of the regular session. In an email to lawmakers and staff on Wednesday, House Speaker Melissa Hortman said the first extraordinary session could begin on Friday. In preparation for the special session, lawmakers held a series of briefing hearings on Wednesday on most of the unresolved budget bills. The House and Senate held separate hearings. Among the deals: A tax plan that will lower the second income tax bracket to 6.8% starting this year and freeze a state-wide property tax levy for businesses. An education spending bill that will give schools 2% more for every student each year, as well as help cope with skyrocketing special education spending. And a public safety budget that includes funding for about 70 new correctional officers. (MPR News)
2. Some things that didn’t happen and some things that did. Many of the hot button policy provisions debated earlier in the year were dropped in the final bills released on Wednesday. Among them: Democrats have failed to persuade Republicans to pass tougher gun laws, including expanded background checks and red flag gun seizures. And Republicans have failed to persuade Democrats to agree to any extension of gun rights. Republican attempts to further restrict abortion have failed. And Democrats’ attempts to obtain driver’s licenses for Minnesotans living without legal citizenship papers have failed. But other measures have survived: On Wednesday, Walz enacted a law on a set of regulations for assisted living facilities and protections for Minnesota seniors, which include the right of residents of senior care centers to install cameras in their rooms. And on Wednesday, a deal was announced to pay $ 13 million to license center operators who lost money due to the state’s ailing computer system for tabs and vehicle titles known as by MNLARS. If Walz were to call a special session for Friday, it remained unclear whether lawmakers could finish in one day, show up on Memorial Day weekend, or possibly take a weekend break and resume next week. (Pioneer Press)
3. The attempt to officially rename the lake fails. DFL House lawmakers dropped a proposal to officially recognize a lake in southern Minneapolis by its Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska, as officials scrambled to strike a deal on the state budget on Wednesday. Democrats wanted to use the state’s two-year spending plan to engage in an ongoing legal battle over what was to be called the People’s Waterbody. The problem emerged at the end of April, after the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned a decision by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to strip the name of former Vice President John C. Calhoun. , defender of slavery and instrumental figure of the Indian Removal Act. According to the court, the power to take such measures rests with the legislature. House Democrats approved language reinstating the Indigenous name in a budget vote in late April. But the provision, opposed by the Republican-controlled Senate, was omitted from the final text of an environmental budget bill released on Wednesday. “It was something that the GOP Senate would absolutely not take,” said Representative Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, a US Indian lawmaker who had fought for change. (Star Tribune)
4. The money will go to try to stop the spread of CWD. Since the start of the Minnesota legislative session in January, the slow progression of chronic wasting disease has only increased. Now, leading lawmakers say they have an answer to better contain the highly contagious and deadly brain disease among the state’s deer population. Minnesota is set to impose stricter regulations on deer hunters and farmers while spending more money on research and prevention efforts as a centerpiece of the budget deal being finalized by Senate Republicans and House LDFs in a conference committee focused on the environment and natural resources. CWD legislation was a top priority for both political parties on the Legislative Assembly’s environmental committees, although they disagreed with the difficulty of cracking down on deer herders. The response to the disease was celebrated by LDF and Republicans this week with a deal to raise more money to tackle aquatic invasive species, among other policy and spending initiatives. On CWD, “we will really be able to show a compromise that all three branches of government can support,” said Bob Meier, deputy commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, referring to the House, Senate and the governor’s office. (MinnPost)
5. Election security money on the way. Minnesota legislative leaders agreed on Wednesday on a long-delayed plan to use federal election security money that had been tied up in a bitter partisan fight against voter fraud and foreign cyberattacks. After lawmakers failed to agree earlier on a measure to free up more than $ 6.6 million in federal funds approved by Congress in 2018, the money will now be part of the deal. Wider state government funding between Governor Tim Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park. Some GOP lawmakers had sought to limit cybersecurity funding in favor of electoral fraud measures that have been at the center of President Donald Trump’s concerns. Democrats accused Republicans of downplaying the threat of cyber intrusions into state electoral systems despite evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Star Tribune)
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