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Senate Media Services

February Budget Forecast / Breaking Barriers to Affordable Housing / Ensuring the Viability of EMS

Minnesota has a surplus of $3.7 billion for the current biennium, according to the just-released February Budget and Economic Forecast. Governor Tim Walz and legislative leaders respond to the report as they prepare to finalize supplemental spending proposals for the 2024 legislative session.

During the 2023 legislative session, one billion dollars from the budget surplus was directed to housing initiatives. Last week, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and advocates called a press conference to outline policies intended to spark the construction of more affordable housing options throughout the state. Senator Lindsey Port, chair of the Senate Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to walk through some of the proposed changes.

The Emergency Medical Services Task Force, created by the legislature during the 2023 session, held its first meeting in December, followed by field hearings around Minnesota. A final report is due to the legislature by mid-August. Meanwhile, the situation is dire for some EMS and ambulance services, and recommendations will be considered this session. Senator Judy Seeberger, DFL-Afton, co-chair of the task force, joins Shannon to explain.

Also in the program, Senate Republican leaders unveil the first part of their "Repair Minnesota" agenda, aspiring educators and DFL lawmakers call for a tuition waiver for student teachers, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers and EMS professions urge passage of an emergency funding bill.

The Role of School Resource Officers / Expanding the Crime of Doxing / Amending the Read Act

The 2023 legislature passed a law prohibiting school employees, including school resource officers (SROs), from using certain types of restraints on students. The law caused confusion among law enforcement and school officials, resulting in the removal of some SROs from schools. Senator Bonnie Westlin, DFL-Plymouth, and Senator Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, are working to clarify the law. They join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the SRO issue and other legislation they are sponsoring.

Also in the program, Minnesota students share their concerns with members of the Senate Education Policy Committee, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and advocates highlight policy proposals to improve housing affordability, and the Reproductive Freedom Caucus outlines legislative priorities.

Finally, Senate photographers A.J. Olmscheid and Catherine J. Davis capture the first two weeks of the 2024 legislative session.

Opening Day of the 2024 Session / Tax Fixes, Tax Policy & Artificial Intelligence / Legalizing Sports Betting

It was a sweet and bipartisan start to the 2024 legislative session, initiated by Governor Tim Walz sharing homemade apple blondies with lawmakers. After the gavel, Senate leaders offered hopeful sentiments for a cooperative session, followed by press events outlying their respective outlooks for the coming months.

The Senate tax chair, one of the most powerful positions in the Senate, decides which proposals will come before the committee for consideration. Senator Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, the current chair, has said no to any significant new spending or tax increases for the 2024 session. She joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about why she does not favor costly proposals this session, the need to fix several inadvertent errors in the 2023 tax law, her position on fully eliminating the tax on social security benefits, and the potential of Artificial Intelligence.

With the Superbowl in the rearview mirror, where a reported 68 million adults placed bets according to the American Gaming Association, Minnesota remains an island of non-betting. Senator Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, joins Shannon to talk about his updated proposal to legalize sports betting in Minnesota.

Also in the program, lawmakers grapple with resolving the 2023 law change that prompted some law enforcement agencies to remove school resource officers (SROs) from schools, and highlights of recent press conferences where lawmakers outline their priorities for the 2024 session.

Senate DFL Chooses New Majority Leader / Reforming the Met Council / House Republican Priorities

Following an announcement that Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic will step away from leadership due to a recurrence of cancer, Senate DFLers elected Erin Murphy as the next majority leader.

The legislature created the Metropolitan Governance Task Force during the 2023 session to study options for reforming the governance structure of the Metropolitan Council, a policy-making body, planning agency and provider of essential services for the Twin Cities metro area. The task force has completed its work, and the report has been forwarded to the legislature. Senator Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, co-chair of the task force, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to assess the success of the panel's efforts.

Lawmakers have been meeting with their respective caucuses to decide on priorities and strategies for the 2024 legislative session. House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth joins Shannon to talk about some of the Republican goals for the 2024 session.

One of the most unique civil war artifacts on display in the State Capitol is a flagstaff that barely survived the Battle of Gettysburg, and now symbolizes the joining of the North and the South. Historian Brian Pease explains.

Senate Republican Priorities / House DFL Priorities

Even-year legislative sessions are typically focused on supplemental spending, policy concerns and a bonding bill. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson and DFL House Majority Leader Jamie Long join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about some of the goals of their respective caucuses for the 2024 legislative session.

Also in the program, Representative Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, and individuals with terminal diagnoses advocate for passage of the Minnesota End-of-Life Options Act, and an overview of the life of Minnesota's eighth governor, John Sargent Pillsbury.