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Legislative Updates & Alerts

During the legislative session, MNAAP members receive bi-weekly legislative updates emailed to them from the chapter’s policy chair and lobbyist.

The 2022 session runs from Jan. 31 through mid to late May. 

August 9, 2022

Chad Fahning, MNAAP Lobbyist

Uncertainty loomed at the Capitol as the Minnesota Legislature adjourned the 2022 legislative session. Despite a $9.25 billion budget forecast, neither body could agree on what to do with the record-setting surplus. Questions about a special session never received answers as legislators packed their bags to go home in preparation for the 2022 campaign season.

A few weeks prior, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) and House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) stood side-by-side with Governor Tim Walz to announce an agreed upon budget framework. Prospects for an orderly end-of-session seemed promising as leadership announced a $4 billion tax deal, $4 billion in state spending, and a $1.4 billion bonding bill – a deal that everyone, in theory, could agree to.

In practice, however, the legislators would need to carve out compromise from a situation where little could be found. The Health and Human Services Conference Committee, for example, was charged with detailing a $1 billion agreement of the $4 billion state spending target. The two sides’ proposals couldn’t have been more different.

The House proposal prioritized early childhood initiatives, specifically in mental health services, as well as additional funding for expanded statewide health programs. The Senate offers invested almost entirely in workforce shortages, especially in eldercare services and programs for the disabled.

The House and Senate exchanged several offers in an effort to inch closer to a compromise, but never finalized a deal before the May 22 midnight deadline. Similarly, deals on E-12 education, public safety, and transportation bills, not to mention a compromise on a bonding bill for new capital improvement projects, were never reached. Details of a tax bill were announced, but the House would not pass the bill without Senate agreement on the spending bills.

As the clock on the session expired, no deal had been made. No tax bill. No spending deal. The record-setting budget surplus now sits on the bottom line until the legislature reconvenes. Right now, nobody knows when that will be.

The Speaker of the House supports a special session to finish their work. The Senate Majority Leader does not. Gov. Walz said he was open to calling a special session, but only if both sides come to an agreement to tie up loose ends on the spending bills.

The legislature did pass several important items during the regular session. The legislature authorized hero pay for over half a million frontline workers in Minnesota, in tandem with a multibillion dollar deal to refill the state’s unemployment insurance fund. The extension of the reinsurance program in Minnesota needed to be addressed this year and was. It included a critical provision to allow patients to spread out copay payments on their deductible throughout the calendar year.

But with the largest budget surplus in state history and countless hours stakeholders spent advocating for something, the lack of an end-of-session deal leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many Minnesotans. Despite lobbying efforts throughout session, especially for investments in early childcare and expansion of school mental health services, to see all that work result in nothing this year is disheartening at best.

Unless there is a special session, the legislature will reconvene in January of 2023. The 93rd Minnesota State Legislature will certainly look different than the 92nd, as many legislators will not make a return trip back to St. Paul either by their own choice or that of their constituents.

April 13, 2022

MNAAP members had an opportunity to testify in support of the House Early Education Omnibus Bill, which contains initiatives that align with the chapter’s strategic priority interests in early childhood development and education.

Education and care in the early, formative years of a child’s life have a measurable impact on their future. All of Minnesota’s infants and children deserve programs and systems that build a solid foundation that enables them to reach their maximum potential.

Chapter President Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, and Early Childhood Work Group Co-Chair Roger Sheldon, MD, FAAP, shared their feedback on the bill with the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee on Wednesday, April 6. You can view their testimonies with this YouTube link.

March 28, 2022

MNAAP sent a letter to leadership in both the House and Senate indicating strong support for increased funding for early childhood initiatives, MNAAP’s top legislative priority this session. These initiatives enhance the health, education, care and opportunity of our youngest Minnesotans.

Given the $9.25 billion budget surplus, MNAAP argued now is the time for significant investment in early childhood initiatives. Portions of these investments are moving in the House of Representatives but have yet to move in the Minnesota Senate.

 

January 31, 2022

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

Legislature Starts with New Leadership

The Minnesota Legislature reconvenes on Monday, January 31 with several new key players. In the Senate, there will be new leaders for both caucuses – Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) and Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen (DFL-Edina). Miller takes over for Paul Gazelka (R-Brainerd), who is running for governor. López Franzen takes over for Sen. Susan Kent (DFL- Woodbury), who is not seeking re-election.

The House leadership remains largely the same, but 23 legislators have already announced they are not seeking re-election, including House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) and House Tax Committee chair Paul Marquart (DFL-Moorhead). Seven of those legislators are seeking other offices.

Governor’s Supplemental Budget Reflects Investment in Kids

Governor Tim Walz unveiled parts of his supplemental budget proposal last week. The $5.1 billion proposal would fund several programs aimed for Minnesota’s children, families, and schools over three years. The proposal also includes expansion of childcare access, additional pre-K funding, $183 million for free student meals and $77 million for mental health services.

Legislature to Meet Mostly Virtually

Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) announced the House will meet predominantly virtually this session, with floor sessions being in-person and committee rooms available to members if needed. The State Office Building, where representatives have their offices, will be closed to the public. Speaker Hortman noted that this may change as health and safety conditions evolve. The Senate is expected to hold more hybrid committee meetings, with some in-person options available, but senators’ offices in the Senate Office Building are accessible by invitation only.

January 19, 2022

Chad Fahning, MNAAP Lobbyist

Nearing the end of 2021, a time when words like “Delta variant,” “vaccine hesitancy,” and “I think you’re muted” were all regularly used, plenty of Minnesotans are hoping for a more normal 2022. From a political perspective however, I am here to tell you that won’t likely happen for a variety of reasons.

Split Government and Unfinished Business

Minnesota still has the sole split-legislature in the nation. With Republicans retaining a majority in the Senate and DFLers in control of the House, Minnesota is entering its fourth straight session of split government. The split hasn’t forced either side into many compromises in recent years, and lawmakers will enter 2022 with additional unfinished business from the interim.

Following the 2021 session, a bipartisan working group was tasked with developing a recommendation for the $250 million set aside for the state’s frontline workers who suffered during the pandemic. The recommendation was due by Sept. 6 with the idea that the governor would call a special session and both bodies would pass the working group’s recommendation. The deadline came and went, the working group had no report to offer, and no special session was called.

On top of that, GOP members in the Senate threatened to reject the confirmation of Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm amidst discussions of school and employer vaccine mandates. Governor Tim Walz stated he would not call a special session without assurances that Malcolm won’t be removed – something Republican senators were not willing to agree to. The $250 million will not and cannot be distributed without the legislature being in session to approve it. That will need to wait until the legislature convenes on Jan. 31, when Republicans could also vote to remove the health commissioner from her present post.

Virtual Session in the House

Minnesota Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), announced in a letter to House members and staff that the House will continue remote and hybrid operations through the end of the 2022 legislative session. Hortman also noted the policy could change “as health and safety conditions evolve.”  According to the letter, there will be at least a 30-day notice prior to any change. There has not been formal communication regarding the Senate’s plans for operations, but it is believed the Senate will likely meet in-person at the Capitol.

Elections and New Senate Leadership

With no constitutional requirement to pass a state budget and the 2022 elections on the horizon, the second half of the biennium is typically less active than the first. All 201 legislators will be on the ballot in 2022, along with the governor. Two legislators, Senator Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) and Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) announced their gubernatorial candidacies this fall, joining former State Senator Scott Jensen as frontrunners to challenge Governor Walz. When he announced his candidacy, Gazelka stepped down as majority leader and Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) was selected to take his place. Simultaneously, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) announced she would not seek re-election in 2022, leading to the DFL caucus selecting Senator Melisa López Franzen (DFL-Edina) as the new minority leader. 

The new leadership will have plenty on their plates as the entire legislature discusses their priorities going into the 2022 session. Similarly, please stay tuned to newsletters and updates as the MNAAP 2022 legislative priorities are finalized and announced.

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