Jeanne Poppe: With adjournment approaching, important bills still outstanding
Published 12:00 pm Sunday, May 13, 2018
As the 2018 legislative session nears its constitutionally-mandated adjournment at 7 a.m. on May 21, there are still plenty of moving parts to be negotiated and voted on in the time remaining. If the Legislature and Gov. Dayton’s office work closely over the next week, the end of session can be productive and yield some positive results for Minnesotans.
Omnibus Finance Legislation
When the House first voted on the supplemental budget bills, they arrived in four packages. Agriculture Finance was folded into a larger omnibus bill including Jobs, State Government Finance, and Environment and Natural Resources; Transportation and Health and Human Services were combined into one bill; E-12 and Higher Education traveled together and Public Safety was voted on alone. The Senate passed one omnibus bill which included all of these items in a single bill.
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The supplemental omnibus conference committee has begun to meet and are attempting to consider finance provisions in all of the spending areas. This supersized bill is full of controversial policy provisions and unusual funding configurations which make it neither well-aligned nor similar in scope. It is unclear if this bill will be able to make it through the process in the coming days. Failure to come together will mean status quo on current budget/spending.
If an agreement can be reached, the bills come back to the legislature where they must pass each body and go to Governor Dayton for his signature. If the bills contain items on which the governor is not in agreement, he could veto the bill.
Capital Investment Bill
On Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee passed the Capital Investment (bonding) bill and sent it to the House floor where it will be taken up on Monday. The budget target is lower than I would like but the bill seems to have the right priorities. There are three project requests for every one project that is funded so hopefully a larger bill can come to fruition. Obviously, the larger the bill the greater numbers of projects that can be included. With interest rates remaining low, bonding is the best way to fund long-term, shovel-ready projects.
Under the current House bill, our regional public television station, KSMQ, would receive funding to build its own site and Riverland Community College would receive its request to fund remodeling the Albert Lea campus to accommodate the Transportation, Trade, and Industrial Education Center. There is also money in the Public Facilities Authority for wastewater treatment and funds for Department of Natural Resources to tackle flood mitigation.
Additionally, the bill authorizes $35 million in bonding to fund the Rural Finance Authority’s loan program. The RFA is a valuable resource for farmers and lenders so securing the funding is positive for Minnesota.
Rep. Jeanne Poppe can be reached at the Capitol by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-4193.