Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka emerged from private budget talks with Governor Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman with the assessment, “We’re trying to wrestle through a number of issues, and each time we get one little step closer.” Gazelka expressed disappointment that masking remains required among the state’s youth and acknowledged that it is increasingly unlikely that the legislature will finish its work by midnight Monday, the constitutionally mandated end of the session.
Senator Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, chair of the Senate Housing Committee, also spoke to the media about the status of his proposal to provide an off-ramp to the housing moratorium enacted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent provided her perspective on how the end of the session is unfolding.
Next year, voters across the nation will be casting their ballots in newly created legislative and congressional districts that reflect changes in the population. The process of drawing new districts is complex, and Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke talks with Senator Mark Johnson, chair of the Senate’s Redistricting Committee, about the committee’s initial steps in reorganizing Minnesota to fairly divide the population for the coming decade.
Over the years, the Minnesota Senate has gained experienced legislators who had previously served in the House of Representatives. Senator Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, had not only prior legislative experience, but also leadership experience. Senator Murphy talks about her previous position and her new Senate perspective.
Also in the program, highlights of the debate on adopting California's vehicle emission standards and the proposed Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act.
Just days away from the end of the 2021 legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told the media that ‘there’s progress’ when asked about the status of end-of-session budget negotiations. He took questions from the press on a number of topics following the Thursday, May 13, floor session.
Lawmakers have until midnight, Monday, May 17, to reach a budget agreement for the state’s next two-year budget. Gazelka described the $2.8 billion the state will receive in federal COVID-19-related stimulus as a ‘wrinkle’ that has slowed the usual pace of budget talks. “We’re not talking over each other, we’re talking to each other,” he said.
With five days remaining before the constitutionally mandated adjournment of the 2021 session, legislative leaders and Governor Tim Walz have yet to release budget targets for the conference committees to finalize budget agreements. With only days remaining, the likelihood of budget work extending into a special session is growing. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka spoke with the media Wednesday, May 12, about the ongoing budget negotiations. (Audio of the press event is courtesy of Peter Callaghan, MinnPost.)
Yesterday’s federal guidance on allowable state expenditures for the $2.8 billion Minnesota will receive in relief through the American Rescue Plan prompted members of the omnibus tax conference committee to question administration officials Tuesday, May 11.
Senate Tax Chair Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, and Republican lead of the House tax committee, Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, grilled Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter over his understanding of how the federal money can be allocated. The Republican lawmakers also expressed frustration at the timing of the announcement with the May 17 adjournment of the legislative session.
“It is very concerning to think that this understanding of these funds and this ruling… would not be acted upon in a timely manner, because not only is the clock running out for Minnesotans who want to file their taxes on May 17, the legislature adjourns on May 17. And at that point, the Governor is the sole distributor of that $2.8 billion dollars,” said Nelson.