Looking ahead to the 2017 legislative session

Published 7:52 am Sunday, January 8, 2017

On Jan. 3, I was sworn in along with 132 Minnesota House colleagues.

Normally, 134 of us would take the oath of office, but one seat is open and will be filled in a special election next month. There is much pomp and circumstance as family and friends of legislators both new and returning take in the proceedings on the House floor.

The day includes electing a Speaker of the House and non-partisan House officers. Temporary rules and other procedural resolutions are passed. The governor and Minnesota Senate are informed we are organized and ready to work.

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Opening day of session was particularly special this year because it coincided with the reopening of the Capitol, which has undergone a multi-year restoration. The architectural improvements will greatly enhance the visitor experience. More public spaces are available in the building, which will enable more group visits and field trips. It is well worth the trip to St Paul.

I’m honored to be returning to the Minnesota House to represent our region for my seventh term. The privilege placed upon me by the voters is one which I have never taken lightly.

This term, I will serve on four committees: Agriculture Finance (of which I will again be the lead minority member), Agriculture Policy, Capital Investment, and Ways and Means.

The work done in the agriculture committees is some of the most bipartisan in the entire legislature. While the amount of money budgeted is relatively small compared to the state budget, we work to make positive impacts on farmers and producers engaged in the sizable state ag-economy.

The Capital Investment Committee is charged with crafting bonding bills to fund infrastructure improvements across the state. It remains to be seen whether we will see such a bill from the House Majority in 2017; there are indications it may wait until 2018.

One of the highly sought committee assignments is the Ways and Means Committee which oversees matters concerning the state budget. Most bills with fiscal implications must go through Ways and Means, and the committee is responsible for setting budget “targets” for each finance committee.

Per the Minnesota Constitution, the total number of “legislative days” (days in which either the House or Senate meet) is capped at 120 for the two year biennium. Also, each calendar year, we are only able to meet in session until the first Monday following the third Saturday in May, this year that date being May 22.

I encourage you to be in touch with me throughout the session with your ideas and viewpoints on issues important to you. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-4193, by mail at 291 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email at rep.jeanne.poppe@house.mn.