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Capitol Report: Health & Human Services, Health Care Reform

General Fund spending for health and human services comprises the second largest portion of Minnesota's state budget, and during the 2017 session, lawmakers grappled with the need to maintain key services as costs continue to rise. Chair of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee, Senator Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to discuss the budget.

Senator Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, is the ranking minority member of the Human Services Reform Committee, and joins Shannon to provide his perspective on the Health and Human Services budget and what remains to be done.

On July 15, The Star Tribune published a commentary by Senator Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, entitled "It's time for a bipartisan reset on health care reform." As chair of the Human Services Reform Committee, he discusses his point of view on resetting the health care debate.

Court Overturns Governor's Veto of Funding For Legislature

Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann issued his ruling Wednesday, July 19, on the Legislature vs. Governor Dayton lawsuit, citing that the governor's veto of funding for the Minnesota Legislature violated the Separation of Powers clause of the Minnesota Constitution. Governor Dayton used the line-item veto of legislative funding for the two-year budget period as leverage to bring lawmakers back to the negotiating table to reconsider a handful of measures in the recently signed tax bill. Dayton said he signed the tax bill due to a "poison pill" tactic in the state government bill, which would have unfunded the Minnesota Department of Revenue if the tax bill had been vetoed.

In his ruling, Judge Guthmann stated, "the court holds that Governor Dayton improperly used his line-item veto authority to gain a repeal or modification of unrelated policy legislation by effectively eliminating a co-equal branch of government. Therefore, under the unique and limited circumstances of this case, the Governor's line-item veto of the Legislature's appropriations offended the Separation of Powers clause of the Minnesota Constitution. They are null and void."

Following the release ruling, Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt spoke with the media, saying he is pleased with the court's decision. "The bottom line is that Minnesotans won today."

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka issued a statement, saying, "Today the court ruled an entire branch of government cannot be eliminated by a stroke of the governor's pen. The governor should accept this verdict and allow the people of Minnesota to move on, instead of continuing to waste taxpayer dollars on expensive litigation. However, if he chooses to appeal, we will continue to defend Minnesotans' constitutional rights to locally elected representation all the way to the Supreme Court."

Governor Mark Dayton also issued a statement: "Today's District Court ruling is only a preliminary step in this case's judicial process...I have asked Sam Hanson, my legal counsel, to appeal this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

It is unfortunate that Republican Legislative Leaders are using this ruling to avoid completing their work by correcting their serious errors in the last Legislative Session. From the beginning of my administration, I have worked hard to restore sound fiscal integrity to our State Government. My line-item veto was targeted to achieve this result. As I have said, the tax bill passed last May by Republican Legislators jeopardizes Minnesota's structurally balanced budget in the future. By working together, Republican Leaders could join with me to remove fiscally irresponsible tax cuts and also to eliminate the un-Minnesotan attacks on our state's immigrant communities and our dedicated teachers..."

Work Begins on Health Care Access, Affordability

The initial meeting of the Senate's new Select Committee on Health Care Consumer Access and Affordability met this week to hear overviews from state officials as well as a presentation by the Minneapolis-based health care startup Gravie. (Select Senate Committees tab on left to view hearing.) The chair of the select committee, Senator Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, talks with Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke about the committee's goals.

In a press conference, Governor Mark Dayton called upon the Minnesota Board for Peace Officer Standards and Training to name the new $12 million dollar Law Enforcement Training Fund in memory of Philando Castile, the St. Paul motorist who was fatally shot in a Falcon Heights traffic stop last year.

Producer Jon Brune provides insights on the process of testifying before legislative committees and also explains the role of and the services provided by the Legislative Reference Library.

Naming Police Training Fund in Honor of Philando Castile

This year, state lawmakers approved $12 million dollars for a new Law Enforcement Training Fund, and Governor Mark Dayton called up the Minnesota Board for Peace Officer Standards and Training to name the fund in memory of Philando Castile. Dayton, along with members of the Castile family, announced the recommendation at a State Capitol press conference Thursday, July 6, one year following the police shooting of Castile.

Acknowledging that he grew up during a time when Minnesota was more homogeneous than the diversity of the state today, Dayton said, "An incident like this shows all of us that we have a lot more work ahead of us, a lot more we need to do working together to improve our quality of relationships with one another and with the institutions of our society, with the communities of our society that reflect this increased diversity."

In addition to suggesting the naming of the training fund, Dayton announced that Clarence Castile, Philando's uncle, is appointed to the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training. According to Dayton's office, Castile is currently a member of the Governor's Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations and was recently named as a reserve officer in the St. Paul Police Department.

Following the press conference, Governor Dayton answered media questions regarding the ongoing court case surrounding his veto of the legislature's funding and other issues.

Capitol Report: Reflecting on the '17 Session, Disagreements

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, talks with Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke about his perspective on the legal battle between Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota legislature, as well his thoughts on the accomplishments and difficulties of the 2017 session.

As the deadline for the 2017 legislative session loomed, the Republican-controlled House and Senate were continually attempting to hammer out budget and tax relief deals with DFL Governor Mark Dayton. An agreement emerged less than an hour before adjournment, and Governor Dayton called an immediate special session to finish work on budget bills and transportation and tax-relief packages.

After the special session ended, and the Governor signed the tax and budget bills, he line-item vetoed the appropriation that funds the legislature in an effort to bring lawmakers back to the table for further negotiations. The move created a constitutional controversy over the scope of the Governor's line-item veto authority and the separation of powers. Ramsey County District Court Judge John Guthmann heard arguments from attorneys representing the legislature and Governor Dayton this week.

Finally, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, underscores the extent of bipartisan work that was accomplished during the 2017 legislative session. He joins Shannon to highlight some of the achievements.

Court Reviews Constitutionality of Governor Dayton's Veto

Attorneys representing the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton made their cases before Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann in St. Paul on Monday, June 26. At issue is the constitutionality of Governor Dayton's line-item veto defunding the House and Senate over the coming two-year budget cycle. Governor Dayton used the line-item veto as leverage to bring lawmakers back to the negotiating table to reconsider a handful of measures in the recently signed tax bill. Dayton said he signed the tax bill due to a "poison pill" tactic in the state government bill, which would have unfunded the Minnesota Department of Revenue if the tax bill was vetoed.

Attorney Douglas Kelley, representing the legislature, argued that Governor Dayton's veto is unconstitutional because its intention is to coerce concessions rather than object to a specific appropriation and that by defunding the legislature's appropriation, Dayton is diminishing a branch of government protected by the state's constitution.

Arguing on the Governor's behalf, former Supreme Court justice Sam Hanson said that it is unconstitutional to question the intent a governor's veto, because the veto represents an exercise of executive power. He argued further that the constitution guarantees the right to core funding for the legislature, rather than an appropriation, and that the legislature could access the necessary funding through the courts, as happened in 2001, 2005, and 2011.

In the meantime, both sides jointly requested that Judge Guthmann grant an injunction that would provide an additional 90 days of funding for the legislature while the constitutional matter is before the Court.

Judge Guthmann took the attorneys' arguments under advisement.

Minnesota Senate Media Services
The Minnesota Senate provides live and archive coverage of Senate floor sessions, committee hearings, press conferences and special events. Capitol Report, a weekly public affairs program, and civic education videos also are archived. All programming is produced by Senate Media Services. Audio coverage is recorded and reported by Senate Committee staff and Senate Sergeant At Arms office.

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