Jeanne Poppe: The budget — the process continues

Published 6:16 am Tuesday, May 7, 2019

This year, the leadership of the two bodies of the Legislature – the House Speaker and the Majority Leader of the Senate, along with Gov. Walz, have set deadlines to keep an orderly process going with the expectation of completing the budget work by our constitutional deadline of Monday, May 20. The Minnesota House passed all of our finance proposals by Tuesday, April 30. The Senate completed their budget bills on Wednesday, May 1. It is good to have met this critical deadline and to be prepared for the next phase of the process.

The next phase will bring House and Senate conferees together to work out policy and finance differences between each bill version. In some cases, the two budgets are vastly different, focusing on different priorities resulting in different outcomes.

Jeanne Poppe

The ability to spend more or invest in priorities such as education, health care, transportation, public safety, or agriculture depends on the overall dollars brought into the revenue stream. So a key piece of the process moving forward requires the leadership of the Legislature and the governor to meet their next self-imposed deadline of Monday, May 6, when they will announce agreed budget targets (the budget amount which can be spent in each finance division).

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In a couple of bills, there are some provisions that raised concerns. A few of those provisions were included in the public safety and judiciary budget bill (Senate File 802). These provisions would require criminal background checks for firearm purchases and transfers (HF 8) and establish extreme risk protections orders (House File 9). For the past four months, legislators have been working to come up with compromise language that respects responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

Current Minnesota law allows any person to apply for a permit to transfer a firearm to another without a background check; HF 8 would require transferees to go through a background check with local law enforcement officials, and both parties involved would be required to keep a record of the transfer. There are some exceptions to this, including transfers between law enforcement officials, immediate family members, and those who have a permit to carry. HF 8 is supported by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association.

HF  9, often referred to as a “Red Flag” bill, would allow law enforcement officers to seek a court order to temporarily remove firearms from a person who has shown signs of harming themselves or others. Known as an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), similar bills have been passed in other states including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Maryland.

The language in the bill pertaining to guns has been modified a great deal from when these bills were originally introduced. When SF 802 as amended came before me on the House floor, I voted yes. It contains many good policy provisions and financial support for public safety, the judiciary, and corrections. We will know in two weeks what provisions remain in all of the budget bills.