Jeanne Poppe: Looking ahead to the 2020 Legislative session

Published 6:34 am Saturday, February 8, 2020

On Feb. 11, the Minnesota Legislature reconvenes for the second year of the 2019-2020 Legislative Biennium. The focus of our time together in 2019 was spent fulfilling our constitutional duty of crafting a balanced state budget, and in 2020 we will turn our efforts to constructing and passing a bonding bill that addresses infrastructure and community projects across Minnesota. Additionally, we are likely to adjust the budget, and consider some policy changes. We will receive a revenue forecast in late February which is anticipated to show an increase in funds available. In my capacity as chair of the House Ag and Food Division, I’ll be working on issues that continue to impact our farmers. In light of numerous farm accidents, we are certain to consider policies relating to farmer safety.

Jeanne Poppe, District 27B

The House Capital Investment Division spent much of the legislative interim touring project sites all over the state so that they could see firsthand the candidates for inclusion in the 2020 bonding bill. During last fall’s House Mini-Session in southeastern Minnesota, my colleagues on the House Capital Investment Division were able to tour our community, where they visited the Austin Wastewater Treatment Plant, Riverland Community College, and made several stops highlighting flood mitigation projects within the Cedar River Watershed District. As you can see, state investment in reducing phosphorus in water for our community will be a legislative priority this year. Though 2020 is considered a “bonding year,” there is no constitutional duty to pass a bonding bill. The combination of low interest rates and the state’s good credit rating make this year an ideal time for a bonding bill, but the key component will be compromise among legislators, and agreement among legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz.

There are several important issues left over from last year where a compromise was unable to be reached, or there simply wasn’t enough time in the budget-building process. One issue that has been worked on since before the start of the 2019 Legislative Session is a solution to the skyrocketing cost of insulin. Overall, the rising cost of medication is a pressing issue, but momentum has been building around an emergency insulin plan that would provide life-saving medicine to diabetics who need it. It didn’t pass in the 11th hour of last session, and even though a bipartisan working group met during the interim, an agreement was never reached, and no special session during the interim occurred. Early in the 2020 session it is expected the Minnesota House will pass a bill including a number of agreed upon provisions.

Although we showed a positive budget balance in our November forecast, and anticipate the same in the February forecast, we must remain mindful of the impacts of inflation and other economic factors which can result in a deficit in future fiscal years. Though the February budget and economic forecast will give us a more updated picture, there is no doubt our work in the Legislature this year will need to prioritize smart, responsible legislation to ensure that the future of our state is supported at the level Minnesotans deserves.