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Secrets for Citizen Lobbyists

Secrets for Citizen Lobbyists is a handbook for advocates that explains the legislative process to help every day citizens feel more comfortable and communicate more effectively with their legislators. It encourages informed involvement with the people in the lawmaking process to make a difference on the issues that affect individuals or the organizations in which they are involved.

 

Ewald at the Capitol

Ewald at the Capitol is a weekly publication that captures the week in review at the Minnesota Legislature. EAC takes a big picture view of the week and provides insight into what driving and influencing legislative work up at the Capitol.

January 5, 2018

Tina Smith Sworn in as US Senator

In the aftermath of US Senator Al Franken’s resignation from Congress due to allegations of sexual harassment, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith has been sworn in as the next junior senator from Minnesota. This marks the first time in state history that both of Minnesota’s US Senate seats are occupied by women, and it also will result in a compelling legal battle in regards to the order of succession. According to the state constitution, any vacancy in the position of Lieutenant Governor mandates the “last elected presiding officer of the senate shall become lieutenant governor in case a vacancy occurs in that office.” The position of president of the senate is presently occupied by Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), and with the Republicans’ narrow margin of majority (they currently have a 34-32 majority following Sen. Dan Schoen’s resignation last month), the discussion of Sen. Fischbach’s ability to serve in both branches of government will be a hotly debated topic.

Sen Fischbach has stated she intends to forgo the salary for lieutenant governor and maintain her position in the senate, citing a state Supreme Court case in 1898 that ruled a senator can serve as lieutenant governor. Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) issued a letter saying a 1968 constitutional amendment bars her from serving in both branches of government. The Minnesota Supreme Court will likely make a decision about the order of succession and its implications on the legislature in the coming weeks.

2018 New Laws Take Effect

Laws enacted during the legislative session will have their effective date, and January 1, 2018 is a common date for new laws to take effect. Starting in 2018 there will be uniform election dates; meaning the only days an election can take place are:

  • Second Tuesday in February
  • Second Tuesday in April
  • Second Tuesday in May
  • Second Tuesday in August
  • First Tuesday after the first Monday in November

There will be a new rule for truck weight limits, as road authorities may issue a special annual permit to exceed motor vehicle weight limits in order to haul road construction materials on six- and seven-axle semi-trucks, with no change in the physical size of trucks allowed on Minnesota roads.

Another new law taking effect allows for age-related hearing loss training for home care workers to count towards their annual training requirements. This will allow home care workers to more effectively communicate with elderly people suffering from hearing loss, which can result in increased incidences of dementia and hospitalizations.

View the complete list of new laws that have taken effect in 2018.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Resigns

In November 2017, a Star Tribune story detailed how reports of elder abuse had gone uninvestigated by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The report found that many seniors living in care facilities had been abused, neglected and robbed, with the perpetrators of these crimes going unpunished or even uninvestigated. As a result of this report and subsequent follow up investigations, MDH commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger resigned from his post in late December. Dr. Ehlinger was replaced on an interim basis by deputy health commissioner Dan Pollock. An investigation will be conducted by the Department of Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, while a new work group has been formed by the American Association of Retired Persons that will submit recommendations to the legislature in February.

Gov. Dayton Establishes Task Force on Affordable Housing

At the end of December, Gov. Mark Dayton announced the establishment of the Governor’s Task Force on Housing. This nonpartisan task force will be made up of 15 public officials and representatives from businesses and nonprofits from across Minnesota, and they will review and make recommendations to the executive and legislative branches to improve housing stability in the state. The task force will submit their recommendations by July 31, 2018.

Road to 2018

The resignation of former US Senator Al Franken has resulted in Tina Smith taking his place until a special election can be held in November 2018 so voters can decide who should occupy the seat until the term is officially over in 2020. State Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) has announced she will seek the Republican endorsement for the seat, and former US Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said this week she is considering running for the seat as well.

Meanwhile State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) has announced he has suspended his campaign for US House in Minnesota’s seventh congressional district, which is currently occupied by 14-term Congressman Collin Peterson.

The gubernatorial campaign is also starting to have an effect on the makeup of the legislature, as Representative Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis) has announced he will not seek reelection to the House as he focuses on his campaign for governor. Rep. Thissen has served nine terms in the House and served as Speaker of the House from 2013-2014.

They Said It

“This Senate seat has a strong, abiding legacy of service and social justice that runs back to Paul Wellstone, Walter Mondale, Gene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey. As I take on this new position, in this extraordinary time we are in, I will do my best to move this legacy forward, toward a better, more inclusive and more just future for all of us.”

-Tina Smith, United States Senator

June 30, 2017

New Laws Effective July 1

A number of new laws passed in this year’s legislative session will take effect on Saturday, July 1, including many provisions contained within the two-year state budget signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Highlights of the new laws include:

  • $6.5 billion in funding over fiscal years 2018-2019 for transportation projects
  • The allocation of $940 million in bonding money
  • Increased fees for hunting and fishing
  • $14 million for workforce development initiatives
  • $500 million in legacy funding aimed at improving water quality, natural resources and arts and culture
  • A $75 surcharge on electric vehicles

The most discussed law taking effect in July is the Sunday liquor sales law passed this year. Starting on Sunday, July 2, liquor stores are allowed to be open from 11:00am-6:00pm on Sundays. The law does allow for municipalities to decide what the hours of operation will be in their jurisdiction, meaning some communities will not have Sunday liquor sales.

View a complete list of the laws that will become effective on July 1.

Court Hearing for Legislature and Dayton

When the 2017 special session concluded, the legislature had sent all major budget bills to the governor’s desk for signature before adjourning sine die. Gov. Dayton then made the decision to sign all of the budget bills into law, while using his line-item veto authority to eliminate funding to the legislative branch for the next four years. Gov. Dayton said he made the decision to cut funding to the co-equal branch of government due to a “poison pill” provision in the omnibus tax bill that would have eliminated funding to the Department of Revenue if the tax bill did not receive the governor’s signature. Gov. Dayton said the line item veto was made to bring legislative leaders back to negotiate terms to another special session to address a number of controversial provisions passed by the legislature in their budget. Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said they would not re-negotiate the bills and opted to file a lawsuit against the governor over a violation of the separation of powers clause in the State Constitution.

This week a Ramsey County court heard preliminary arguments from the two sides, and approved an injunction that would keep the legislature funded until October 1 or when a conclusion is reached on the lawsuit, whichever comes first. The injunction means that legislators and the over 400 legislative employees will continue to work and be paid while the process plays out in the courtroom.

View the court order approving the injunction.

View the State House and State Senate v. Gov. Mark Dayton court hearing.

Met Council Chair to Resign

This week Adam Duininck announced he will resign from his post as chair of the Metropolitan Council, the state agency responsible for Metro Transit, overseeing land-use planning in the seven-county metro area, and wastewater management, effective July 31, 2017. Gov. Dayton announced that Alene Tchourumoff will be replacing Duininck when he steps down from the position. Tchourumoff has served as the State Rail Director at the Met Council since April of 2016. Before that post she advised the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, D.C., as well as an advisory role with the Hennepin County Public Works Department. Tchourumoff’s appointment is subject to approval by the State Senate, but will work in an interim capacity until the 2018 session convenes in February.

They Said It

“[The Met Council’s] success is dependent on strong partnerships with local communities, counties, and businesses. I look forward to working closely with our stakeholders across the state to advance these shared goals. I am grateful to Gov. Dayton for this exciting opportunity to further serve the people of Minnesota.”

-Alene Tchourumoff, Gov. Dayton’s appointee to chair of the Metropolitan Council

July 14, 2017

MMB: General Fund Receipts are $104 Million less than Projected

Earlier this month the office of Minnesota Management and Budget released its updated forecast of general fund revenue, and the updated projections show that the state will receive $104 million less than was projected in February this year. The report says that while the state exceeded projected revenue for sales and corporate franchise taxes, this was more than offset by lower than expected net individual income tax receipts. State officials now estimate that Minnesota’s revenue at yearend will be $20.949 billion. Federal officials have indicated that the reason for the below expected receipt of income taxes could be due to taxpayers shifting payments from 2016 to later years in anticipation of federal tax rate cuts passed by Congress.

The next official budget forecast will be released by MMB in early December of 2017, and will provide a clearer picture of the state of the state budget.

Walleye Ban on Mille Lacs Incites Protest

For several years the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been closely watching the walleye population on Lake Mille Lacs, one of the most popular fishing and resort destinations in the state. Due to an agreement with the local Ojibwa tribes, there is a limit on the amount of walleye anglers can catch over a summer. Because of this agreement walleye fishing is currently closed on Lake Mille Lacs until Friday, July 28.

Gov. Mark Dayton made a trip up to the lake to meet with residents and local business owners to discuss the closure, and to fish on the lake to bring attention to the fact that other types of fishing are still allowed on the lake. While fishing on Lake Mille Lacs, Gov. Dayton’s boat was circled by a group of 75 protesters made up of residents and business owners expressing their frustration with the DNR rule limiting their ability to fish walleye on the lake. As a result, Gov. Dayton canceled his meeting after the morning fishing. The DNR has stated that the ban is in place to protect the walleye population on the lake, and hopes that a ban will not be necessary next year.

DHS Approves Medical Cannabis for PTSD

Back in December of 2016 the Minnesota Department of Health announced that it would allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Open enrollment for those patients began this month, and will start to be prescribed to patients starting in August. Military veterans may face complications, as cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and won’t be offered through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Minnesota has one of the most tightly-regulated medical cannabis programs in the country. PTSD has become the 11th condition added to the program, also including conditions like cancer, seizure disorders and intractable pain. PTSD is currently an acceptable condition for medical cannabis in 22 of the 27 other states that have state-approved programs. As of this month there are over 6,000 Minnesotans enrolled in the program.

Coming Up at the Capitol

Minnesota has a part-time legislature, which means that after session adjourns legislators head back to their districts for what is known as interim. While legislators may not be populating the capitol complex, there are still activities taking place throughout the interim until the legislature returns in February of 2018.

Standing committees may hold informal meetings while the legislature is in the interim. On Wednesday, July 19 there will be a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Policy committees to hear a presentation by the Minnesota Department of Education on their plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Last session the Senate created the Select Committee on Health Care Consumer Access and Affordability. Chaired by Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), the select committee will meet semi-monthly over the interim to explore ideas to improve health care in Minnesota. The group met for the first time on Wednesday, July 12, and while the committee will not consider or adopt legislation, it will make recommendations to the Health and Human Services Policy and Finance committee next session.

After a three-year renovation project, the state capitol building will have a grand opening from Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13. The event will feature a number of local musicians and artists, as well as activities during the event.

Check the legislative calendar to keep up with the activities taking place at the capitol.

They Said It

"[Post-traumatic Stress Disorder] has few effective treatment alternatives available for some patients with the condition, and has presented the strongest case for potential health benefits from the medical cannabis program.”

-Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health

July 28, 2017

Court Overrules Governor's Veto

At the conclusion of the 2017 special session, Governor Mark Dayton decided to line item veto the portion of the omnibus state government bill that would fund the legislature for two years. This was in response to a section of the omnibus tax bill that would cut funding to the Department of Revenue if it was not signed into law. Gov. Dayton had concerns about a number of provisions within the bill, but decided to sign it into law while cutting the funding to the legislature in an attempt to bring legislators back to the capitol to renegotiate the budget passed weeks earlier. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) filed a lawsuit against the governor, saying that the line item veto violated the separation of powers clause in the State Constitution. Recently a Ramsey County judge ruled in favor of the legislature, so funding has been restored to the legislative branch. Gov. Dayton has appealed the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but the funding has been restored unless the court agrees with Gov. Dayton.

Legislative Pay Raises Take Effect

In the 2016 general election, Minnesotans voted on a constitutional amendment that would remove legislators’ ability to determine their own pay, granting that power to a private citizen council that would review the pay rates and decide if changes were needed. Earlier this year the council decided to raise the salary of legislators from $31,140 to $45,000. While senators’ pay increases took effect on July 1, members of the House of Representatives did not see a pay increase due to reluctance to provide the funding from Speaker Daudt. Last week, Representatives Marian O’Neill (R-Maple Lake) and Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) filed a lawsuit asking a judge to enforce the salary arranged by the council. Before the case even reached the courtroom, Speaker Daudt decided to provide the funding for the pay increases, saying he didn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to resist the pay raises. House members will have their salary go up effective August 1, 2017.

New Laws Take Effect Aug. 1

Several laws passed during the 2017 legislative session will come into effect on Tuesday, August 1. Among those laws is a revision to Joint Underwriting Association guidelines, which will clear up a number of insurance discrepancies and remove antiquated language. Another law taking effect is HF 13, which will change rules governing non-profits to rules that already apply to for-profit businesses. Among those changes is non-profit board of directors being able to cast their votes electronically rather than through written action. Another change would make it easier for out-of-state non-profits to open chapters in Minnesota. One other law taking effect will allow county license bureaus to set their own local hours of operation.


View a complete list of August 1 new laws.

Governor Bios Draw Criticism

The State Capitol building has been undergoing a three-year renovation project, and while most of the work has been completed there has been a lot of work done on the artwork kept at the capitol. The Minnesota Historical Society has been working to preserve and display the art stored at the capitol, including the portraits of all 38 former governors. New biographies have been displayed next to the governor portraits, and the relatively short, 300-word biographies of Governors Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty have drawn criticism from both men. The description of Gov. Ventura quotes him as saying “win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat” which he says is incorrectly attributed to himself, and would not like it displayed next to his portrait. Gov. Pawlenty expressed frustration over his biography saying it was a summary of his political work and has little mention of what he accomplished while serving as governor.

Road to 2018

Gov. Dayton has already stated he will not seek a third term as governor, so a steady stream of candidates have been announced their campaigns for governor across the state. This week, former chair of the Minnesota Republican Party and State House member Keith Downey has said he is running for the Republican nomination as governor. He joins Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and State Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) as other Republicans seeking their party’s nomination.

They Said It

“As a result of violating the separation of powers clause of the Minnesota Constitution, the governor’s line-item vetoes are unconstitutional, null and void”

- Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann, on the legislature’s suit against Gov. Dayton

August 11, 2017

Grand Capitol Opening Starts Today

Starting Friday, August 11, the state capitol building will be reopened to the public with a three-day celebration over the weekend. It will include events, tours, and music with fireworks very night. The four-year, $300 million renovation project is expected to keep the capitol up to code without need of major renovation for the next century. The renovation included repairing the marble exterior (using Georgia marble from the same quarry used in 1905 when the building was first built), a cleaned and repaired Quadriga statue, extensive restoration to the building’s murals and paintings, and updates to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The festivities began Friday morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony, and will carry on throughout the weekend. Tours will be available all weekend, as well.

View the schedule of events for the capitol grand reopening.

Schedule a free tour of the capitol through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Supreme Court to Hear Dayton v. Legislature Oral Arguments

The contentious ending to the 2017 legislative and special sessions ultimately resulted in a court hearing after Gov. Mark Dayton decided to use his line item veto authority to remove funding for the House and Senate in an effort to bring the Republican-majority legislature back to the negotiating table. Republican leadership in the legislature filed suit against the governor, saying his action violated the separation of powers clause in the state constitution. Earlier this summer a Ramsey County court agreed with the legislature and declared Gov. Dayton’s use of the line item veto was unconstitutional. Gov. Dayton announced he will appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which has agreed to expedite the process and will hear oral arguments on Monday, August 28.

2017 MCA Scores Announced

The Minnesota Department of Education recently released the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results, a statewide standardized test used to measure how students are doing on state academic standards in mathematics, reading and science. The results from this year showed that there has been little movement in statewide scores in math, science and reading, as well as the achievement gap over the past five years; however, individual school districts results vary throughout the state.

View the 2017 MCA official results.

Road to 2018

The next general election will likely see U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar running for her third term in the chamber. This week her first opponent declared he will challenge her when Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) said he seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race. First elected in 2012, the three-term legislator currently serves as the vice chair of the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance committee. Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) has also been said to be considering a run for congress in the first congressional district, which will be vacated by current Rep. Tim Walz, who is seeking the DFL nomination for governor in 2018.

This week Former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch stated she is considering a run to be the Republican nominee for governor. Serving in the Senate from 2006-2012, Ms. Koch is a veteran and business owner.  Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) and former chair of the Minnesota Republican party Keith Downey have already declared their intentions to run for governor. Prominent Democratic legislators seeking the nomination include: Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), and Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis).

Legistlative Tool Box: Show Me The Money

There are numerous different opportunities to influence the legislative process – hire a lobbyist, join an association, volunteer on a campaign, or contribute financial resources. There are regulations surrounding political contributions set out by the Campaign Finance Board, and they can be complicated to understand. Ewald Consulting has developed a guide to campaign finance rules and the rules for Political Action Committees. If you have any questions about the process contact Owen Wirth at OwenW@Ewald.com.

They Said It

“As stewards of the public trust, I ask us to leave one final legacy to future generations of Minnesotans. Doing so would require the most unselfish vote of your careers: to kick yourselves, me and everyone else out of the Capitol, as needed, for the four years necessary to renovate this building.”

- Gov. Mark Dayton, in his 2012 State of the State Address

August 25, 2017

State Government Goes the the State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get Together is a time where people from all over the state flock to Falcon Heights to partake in one of the largest state fairs in the country. It is also a time where elected officials, candidates, political parties and activist groups all come together to host booths for thousands of people to see. The House of Representatives and Senate public information offices have a booth in the Education Building where they will host elected officials and a also have a public opinion survey, where they ask fairgoers a litany of questions about issues likely to be debated in the upcoming legislative session. The State Fair also presents an opportunity for candidates to meet thousands of people. The plethora of candidates for governor will all be at the fair in some capacity, whether hosting a booth dedicated to their campaign or spending time at their political party’s booth.

If you are interested in meeting with a legislator while at the fair, view the schedule of House members and the schedule of Senate members who will be in the Education Building throughout the fair.

Not sure who your elected officials are? Find out who represents you.

Supreme Court to Live Stream Oral Arguments

Breaking with custom, the Minnesota Supreme Court announced that the oral arguments in the case between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leadership will be available for livestreaming on Monday, August 28. Previous practice of the court is to have video available only after the oral arguments have been made. The issue facing the courts is a question about whether Gov. Dayton can line-item veto the funding for the legislative branch in order to force new negotiations over the state budget. A Ramsey County court ruled in favor of the legislature last month, and with Gov. Dayton’s appeal, the State Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next week.

View the live stream on the Minnesota Supreme Court website.

Captial Investment Committee Tours North West Minnesota

The even-numbered legislative sessions are typically the time when a robust bonding bill is passed. Though the 2017 legislature passed a bonding bill that spent just under $1 billion, there is likely going to be another bill passed next year, due to the fact that the legislature failed to pass any bonding bill over the previous biennium. The House and Senate Capital Investment Committees receive billions of dollars in requests every year, and they are tasked with narrowing those requests down to a manageable size. The committees generally go on tours all over the state to review the projects and see first-hand how the bonding money would be used to improve state-owned infrastructure. They also often view completed bonding projects that were funded in previous bills, to see how the state dollars were invested. The first of five scheduled tours for this summer and fall took House members through Northwestern cities including St. Cloud, Moorhead, Thief River Falls and Brainerd.

The process of putting a bonding bill together can be a daunting. Ewald Consulting has developed a guide for how the bonding bill works in Minnesota.

Tax Credit for Minnesotans Working in Wisconsin

The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently completed negotiations with Wisconsin state officials after reaching an agreement on tax reciprocity for Minnesotans who work in Wisconsin, and vice versa. Roughly 24,000 Minnesotans work in Wisconsin while nearly 55,000 Wisconsinites work in Minnesota, and both groups have been subject to income taxes from both states. The last reciprocity deal expired in 2009, and since that time Minnesotans working in Wisconsin have had to pay hundreds of dollars more in income taxes, but they will qualify for the new tax credit passed in the omnibus tax bill during the last legislative session. Cynthia Bauerly, commissioner of the Department of Revenue, said a reciprocity deal would require a payment from Wisconsin worth over $100 million, and would put uncertain exposure to the budget until that debt has been paid. Instead, those 24,000 Minnesotans will qualify for a tax credit that will cost the state roughly $8 million in lost revenue.

Gov. Dayton Hosts Water Quality Town Hall Meetings

Gov. Dayton has been touring the state hosting town hall meetings to discuss his initiative designed to improve water quality 25 percent by 2025. The meetings are intended to give communities an opportunity to share their concerns about water quality and to learn from the experts that will be touring with the governor. Town hall meetings have already taken place in Rochester, Mankato and Marshall, and are scheduled to take place in Crookston, St. Cloud, Ely, Bemidji, Burnsville, and Stillwater. Gov. Dayton has said that without this initiative, water quality will only improve by between six and eight percent by 2034.

Find more information and the town hall schedule for the “25 by 25” initiative on the governor’s website.

Road to 2018

The race to become the next governor of Minnesota has become more crowded, as State Senator David Osmek (R-Mound) has announced he will seek the Republican endorsement for the position. There are currently six Democrats seeking their party’s endorsement (including three legislators), 10 Republicans (including two legislators), and one member running in the Independence Party, totaling 17 candidates at the stage of the election process. Sen. Osmek has been serving in the Senate since 2012 and is currently the chair of the Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee.

They Said It

"By livestreaming our oral arguments, we hope to give more Minnesotans the opportunity to see their highest court in action, and to learn more about how our court considers and decides the important legal matters that come before us."

- Lorie Gildea, Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court

September 8, 2017

Back to School

With the passing of Labor Day, most Minnesota schools are back in session. This is the time that legislators refocus on work for the coming legislative session (and in even-numbered years they begin the final stretch towards Election Day). More and more work will get done at the capitol, through work/task force meetings, committee meetings or rallies and staged events. Check the combined legislative calendar to keep up with which committees are meeting and what their agendas are.

Parents of school children should be advised that the K-12 Education Subtraction and the K-12 Education Credit exists in Minnesota, which are tax relief programs for families with children in Kindergarten through 12th grade. The programs offset the costs of school tuition and school supplies for families of a certain income. View the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s website for more information.

Autumn can also provide a great opportunity to connect with legislators, their staff, and members of the governor’s administration by inviting them to tour workplace or one of your association’s offices or locations. A tour of your facility provides a great way to reach out to lawmakers and educate them about your organization, what it is and why it should matter to them. Scheduling and planning a visit can take time and preparation. Ewald Consulting has developed a guide on how to host an effective tour for legislators.

Next Steps on Teacher Licensure
A major piece of legislation passed during this past session was the establishment of the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB), which will replace the current Board of Teaching structure. The month of September will see the board’s members appointed, and starting in October the board will begin the search for an Executive Director. PELSB will become active on January 1, 2018, with the first meeting taking place on February 1, 2018. The major change from the legislation is a tiered licensing structure, which will be fully implemented by July 1, 2018.

Supreme Court to Decide Line-Item Lawsuit

On Monday, August 28 the State Supreme Court heard oral arguments from legal counsel for legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton on whether the governor’s line-item veto of legislative funding was constitutional. For the first time the Supreme Court allowed the oral arguments to be live streamed, and are now available to be viewed online. The Supreme Court justices asked pointed questions to both sides, and after just over an hour ended the hearing. While Chief Justice Lorie Gildea did not say when a decision would be announced, the expectation is that it will be released sometime before the end of the month. Back in July a judge granted a temporary injunction on the case allowing the legislature to continue to receive funding through October 1, and if no decision is announced by then the House and Senate will have to tap into reserve funds that would allow them to maintain operations for at least one month.

State Fair Poll Results

Every year at the Minnesota State Fair the House and Senate Public Information booths host legislators as they visit with fairgoers, as well as asking the crowds to participate in an opinion survey on issues likely to face the legislature in coming sessions. Some interesting results from the House survey include 60 percent of participants approve of increasing the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21 and  50 percent approve of a law allowing for the recreational use of marijuana, while the Senate survey showed 61 percent of fairgoers believe the law allowing for religious exemption for required immunizations should be eliminated. While the poll results may offer a glimpse into how some Minnesotans view current issues, the survey is by no means a scientific analysis and such shouldn’t be given too much credence.

View the House of Representative’s poll results.

View the Senate’s poll results.

Road to 2018

The first casualty in the race to be Minnesota’s next governor has occurred, as Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman has decided he will not continue his campaign. Seeking the Republican endorsement for governor, Huffman announced that his work did not allow him to give the necessary focus to the campaign. While he is the first candidate to drop out of the race, there are a total of 12 people running in both major parties.

While Minnesotans were attending the Great Minnesota Get Together they were able to cast a vote in an unofficial corn poll for which Republican candidate for governor. While no specific details were offered, it was announced Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson won the poll. The survey is informal, and similar to the opinion polls should not be taken as a scientific poll, but nonetheless offers a glimpse into how Minnesotans are feeling about the candidates.

The road to 2018 is beginning to take form. Next year the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) and the Republican parties will hold their state conventions over the same weekend, Friday, June 1 through Saturday, June 2. The DFL will hold their convention in Rochester, while the Republican Party will hold theirs in Duluth.

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