Minnesota Legislature takes action on budget bills with days left in the session
Minnesota lawmakers plan to work through the weekend as the end of the session nears. On Friday, legislators moved forward with budget bills to fund the government and human services.
“We know Minnesotans expect and deserve government to work,” said Rep. Ginny Klevor (DFL-Plymouth).
The Minnesota House repassed the State Government and Elections Finance Bill as amended by Conference Committee with a 69-62 vote. It now heads to the Senate.
The bill includes millions in funding for cyber security upgrades, protections for election officials and the creation of a commission to develop new state seal and flag designs.
Some Republican representatives took issue with a provision that has Minnesota joining the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote, which would commit all Minnesota electors to the presidential candidate that wins the popular vote.
“I am disgusted and appalled we are disenfranchising every Minnesota voter,” said Rep. Duane Quam (R-Byron).
Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) responded, “Minnesota voters will count as much as any state under that provision.”
As the discussion wrapped up, when they learned there was nothing else at the desk for consideration, House members voiced frustration with the pace of the final days of the session.
“With a full government control by the Democrats, the work is not done,” said Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring).
Majority Leader Jamie Long responded that Republicans were delaying efforts to pass legislation.
“We did have 50 amendments filed on the Uber and Lyft Bill,” said Long. “In the Senate, we had over 270 amendments filed on the bonding bill, which is a pretty clear delay tactic.”
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Senate discussed the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill. It increases spending by $2.9 billion dollars over four years.
“This bill changes people’s lives,” said Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin). “It creates autonomy for people with disabilities, it encourages choice of care services and really honors the diversity of those care needs.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle applauded personal care assistant wage increases and funding for PCA agencies included in the legislation.
Republican lawmakers argued, however, it falls short on funding nursing homes.
“[It’s] an epic moral failure that we are going to let this opportunity and the funding we happen to have right now slip through our fingers,” said Sen. Zach Duckworth (R-Lakeville).
The Senate repassed the Human Services Omnibus Bill with a 35-32 vote. The Minnesota House began discussing the legislation at 5:45 p.m., which is ongoing.
The Minnesota Senate is expected to vote on the bill to legalize recreational marijuana on Friday evening, although discussion on it has not started on the Senate floor.