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Senate Media Services

Capitol Report: DFL Budget Targets / GOP Tax Plan / Lowering Gas Prices

The budget targets presented by Governor Tim Walz and DFL legislative leaders utilize the state’s $17.5 billion budget surplus to supplement spending in more than thirty budget areas, including $3 billion dollars earmarked for tax relief, aids and credits. Following details and highlights of the budget announcement, Senator Bill Weber, R-Luverne, ranking member of the Senate Tax Committee, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to outline the GOP "Give It Back" tax relief proposal.

An attempt to lower the cost of gasoline by repealing Minnesota’s minimum markup law is progressing in the legislature. The bill's sponsor, Senator Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls, joins Shannon to explain the history of the measure and the reasons to repeal it.

Also in the program, highlights from a ceremonial bill signing for a measure to reduce catalytic converter theft, and DFL lawmakers explain the rationale for a measure that would protect both providers and out-of-state patients from the legal ramifications of reproductive health care services that are banned or limited in other states.

Judiciary Committee Advances Gun-Control Measures

Three gun-control measures long-sought by DFL legislators cleared the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Thursday, March 23. Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, chair of the committee and sponsor of the bills, said the aim of the proposals is to try to prevent firearm tragedies. SF 1116 would require a criminal background check when transferring firearms, SF 2827 would increase the penalties for possessing or operating a machine gun, and SF 1117 would allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to remove firearms from someone deemed dangerous to themselves or others. The trio of bills will next receive consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.

Debate Begins on DFL Budget Targets

Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson addressed the Senate Wednesday, March 22, in response to the budget targets set by Governor Tim Walz and DFL leaders. Of the $17.5 billion budget surplus, the Governor and leaders specified that $3 billion be used for tax relief, with the remaining amount directed to state funding efforts, including $2.35 billion for early education, children and families, $2.2 billion for E-12 education, about $1 billion for transportation, and $1 billion for housing.

"With nearly $18 billion dollars in surplus, the Democratic party here is growing government by 30 percent," said Johnson. "Pare down this budget, pare down these targets to represent the needs of Minnesotans," he said.

In response, Assistant Majority Leader Nick Frentz said, "What Minnesotans wanted was a budget that supported education, that supported working men and women of Minnesota, and that's what this Senate, the House and the Governor are going to deliver."

Governor Walz and DFL Leaders Reveal Budget Surplus Targets

Noting that the era of gridlock is over, Governor Tim Walz was joined by House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate President Bobby Joe Champion to unveil their agreement on budget targets for the state’s next two-year budget.

Among the allocations for the $17.5 billion budget surplus, the Governor and legislative leaders have directed that $3 billion be used for tax relief, $2.35 billion for early education, children and families, $2.2 billion for E-12 Education, approximately $1 billion for transportation, and $1 billion for housing.

Smaller investments include an additional $670 million for the environment and natural resources, $650 million for public safety, $400 million for state government and $128 million for veterans and military affairs.

Additional budget items include $668 million to implement a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave program, $240 million to tackle lead pipes and $40 million in disaster relief. All budget areas will receive an increase, with the smallest allotments going to Labor at $8 million and Commerce and Elections each receiving $10 million. The agreement also includes almost $2.3 billion for an all-cash public infrastructure bill.

The announcement was held in the historic Capitol Reception Room Tuesday, March 21.

Governor Signs Bill to Curb Catalytic Converter Theft

Governor Tim Walz held a ceremonial bill signing Tuesday, March 21, on a measure designed to curb the theft of catalytic converters. The new law prohibits the possession and sale of the auto exhaust part without it being clearly marked with a Vehicle Identification Number(VIN). Effective August 1, possession of a catalytic converter that is not clearly marked is a crime. The penalties range from a misdemeanor to a felony and is dependent upon the number of unmarked catalytic converters in possession.