Sparks: The legislative calm before the storm

Published 12:54 pm Saturday, April 13, 2019

By Dan Sparks

State Senator, District 27

This year’s legislative session now enters the spring recess, giving us the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished so far and the work that remains. We have passed a number of individual bills off the floor that have been or will be signed into law, while others remain waiting for their floor vote.

District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin

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Just this week, we voted on the final bill for hands-free cell phone use while driving. The Senate and the House both passed a version of the same bill, but with some differences that needed to be worked out. They came together in a conference committee which both sides could agree to. I proudly voted for this bill, which will save lives and make our roads safer.

We have also reached our third and final committee deadline, with the various budget bills now having passed through the Finance Committee. Each committee area such as Commerce, Agriculture, Higher Education, and others, created a budget bill that funds the state priorities for these areas. After we return from the spring recess, we will be taking these bills up on the floor.

The budget bills that pass in the Senate will be different than the ones that pass in the House. After they pass their respective bodies, we will come together in conference committees to negotiate, find compromise, and pass agreed upon bills off the floor to send to Governor Walz. These next few weeks will be quite busy, filled with long days and nights of negotiation, and vigorous debate on the floor.

Right now, Minnesota is just one of two states in the country with divided government. While this presents some challenges, it also presents an opportunity to come together and put the interests of Minnesotans above politics. While it may seem like the Senate, House, and Governor are miles apart on their positions, much will change in the next several weeks. I believe we will come together and pass a final budget by the May 20 adjournment that matches the values we all share as Minnesotans.

These next few weeks at the Legislature will be quite busy, but I always make time for my constituents. Please reach out to my office if you have questions, comments or concerns about action at the Capitol, or if you need help addressing any other issues.