House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) has formally announced his candidacy for Hennepin County attorney. The Hennepin County attorney’s office includes 208 attorneys and has a current annual budget of $61.9 million. Winkler announced he will not step down from his role as Majority Leader for the House DFL Caucus while running.
Ewald at the Capitol
Legislative Leadership News
Sen. Melisa López Franzen has been elected as the new Senate DFL Minority Leader following Sen. Susan Kent’s recent resignation from the role. Sen. López Franzen is an attorney from Edina. She is currently serving her third term in the Senate.
Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Chair Michelle Benson has announced her bid for governor in 2022. Benson is an accountant and fourth-term senator from Ham Lake.
“I am an unwavering conservative fighter who will prioritize public safety, empower parents in education, and lead an opportunity economy,” said Benson in a news release.
Minnesota Legislature at the State Fair
Each year, the Legislature takes part in the Minnesota State Fair. Both the Senate and the House have booths in the Education Building, organized by nonpartisan staff and assisted by partisan staff and legislators. The House booth is running its annual opinion poll, but the Senate has a comment card this year instead.
Frontline Worker Bonus Pay
The working group tasked with determining how $250 million will be distributed to frontline workers began meeting this week. The group consists of six members appointed by the legislature, and three by the governor. The money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan, and will be given to some of Minnesota’s estimated 924,000 frontline workers as bonuses. Not everyone will get bonuses, and the only stipulation going into negotiations is that long-term care workers must be included.
The working group will continue meeting and hearing testimony from different sectors of frontline workers until the Sept. 6 deadline.
Some New Laws
July 1 is an important date for new laws. If a bill contains an appropriation, its effective date is July 1. All other bills that do not name a specific start date become effective August 1. Some of the newest Minnesota laws are:
- HF2360: $110,000 in payouts for claims against the state. This is an annual practice by the Legislature. The joint House and Senate Claims Subcommittee is tasked with determining which claims against the state should be funded.
- SF1712: Portions of the Pensions and Retirement omnibus bill.
- SF440: Modifications in statute for tax-forfeited land sales.
Special Session Ends (Sort of)
Around midnight on the deadline of a state government shutdown (Jul. 1), Gov. Walz finished signing all budget bills that had come his way so far. The last piece of the puzzle was the Taxes omnibus bill, which was passed by the Legislature early this morning.
Budget Bills Wrapped Up (Almost)
The Legislature ramped up negotiations last weekend, and now all budget areas except for public safety have been agreed upon. Special session will run over the weekend, and leaders have stated that they expect a full budget will be passed on time to avoid a state shutdown.
Special Session Begins
This week, the Legislature was called into special session to complete state budget work and for Gov. Walz to extend the peacetime emergency. Even though the Capitol building has officially “opened” to the public for the first time since March 2020, access is minimal. Public access is still restricted for the House and Senate chambers and office buildings.
An ice cream social held by the Civility Caucus on the first day of special session set a much milder tone than legislators are used to for in-person work. With access to legislators still so limited, they get to dodge the normal volume of protestors, demonstrators, constituents and lobbyists.
First Post-Session Deadline Unmet
The Legislature’s first self-imposed post-session deadline has now come and gone. By May 28, leaders had pledged to release spreadsheets for each budget bill. A few spreadsheets were released on June 3, but many are still not complete. It is likely that they will also miss their second deadline, which is to release bill language by today.
Budget negotiations have been going on behind closed doors, leaving both the public and many lawmakers in the dark. Rep. Alice Hausman, chair of the Housing Finance and Policy Committee and working group said, “Even I don’t know, are other working groups talking?”