May 23, 2019 07:24 PM
Gov. Tim Walz and top legislative leaders have scheduled a special session Friday to finish their work for the year.
Walz issued a proclamation Thursday night calling for a special session to be convened at 10 a.m. on Friday, according to a release from his office, which said Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman agreed to terms of the one-day session. But House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt apparently disagreed.
In a statement, Daudt said, "The Governor is apparently expecting legislators to vote on thousands of pages of bills that legislators haven't had time to read. One of the bills doesn't even exist yet. At this time, there are no agreements in place with the House Republican caucus regarding tomorrow's special session."
He added, "The agreement signed by Governor Walz and the leaders of the two majority caucuses states that "Both the Senate and House of Representatives must declare an urgency under Article IV, Section 19 of the Minnesota Constitution," a process that would require 90 votes. Passage of a bonding bill requires 81 votes. Both would require votes from the House Republican Caucus."
Hortman, on the other hand, said in a statement, "We have a bipartisan agreement to pass a balanced state budget that provides strong funding for education and secures health care for more than one million Minnesotans. We look forward to completing this work to benefit Minnesotans with Republicans and Governor Walz."
Legislative leaders have agreed to adjourn the special session before 7 a.m. on Saturday, according to the release from Walz's office.
Walz and top legislative leaders also reached agreement Thursday on the last of their major budget bills.
The last piece of the two-year budget fell into place early Thursday when the Democratic governor and leaders of the Senate Republican and House Democratic majorities agreed on a health and human services funding bill, which is one of the biggest parts of the budget.
The three leaders also agreed Wednesday night on bills to finance state government and a jobs-and-energy budget bill. That followed accords on several other must-pass bills earlier Wednesday.
Full details of the health and human services bill were not immediately available Thursday morning, but here are some highlights of the three packages:
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Rep. Tina Liebling, the lead House Democrat on the conference committee, tweeted that a proposal to make emergency insulin supplies more affordable was killed in the final hours of negotiations. Liebling blamed her Senate counterpart on the panel, Republican Michelle Benson. But Benson said Democrats left the proposal out of their documents.
The provision was named after Alec Smith, a 26-year-old uninsured Minneapolis man who died in 2017 of diabetic complications because he was rationing his insulin.
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The bill includes authority for Secretary of State Steve Simon to spend all $6.6 million the federal government had awarded the state for beefing up election cybersecurity.
Freeing up that money was expected to be one of the early bipartisan successes of the session, but it wasn't. GOP Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, who chairs a state government and elections committee, refused to fast-track the money for reasons she never made publicly clear. She said in a statement Wednesday night that the Senate's goal was to make sure the money is spent "in an effective and responsible manner."
The bill also includes $20 million for other state government cybersecurity measures. And it includes $1.6 million to help prepare Minnesota for the high-stakes 2020 census, which was less than the $2.5 million the governor sought. The state is on the bubble for losing one of its eight seats in the U.S. House, so it needs to ensure the most complete headcount possible.
Lawmakers agreed to change the state law for a resumption of presidential primaries that will govern the 2020 Super Tuesday contest so that data on the party choices of voters will no longer be open to the public, as it would have been under the 2016 law, but will be provided to the major party chairs.
JOBS AND ENERGY
A Walz-backed proposal to set an ambitious goal for the state of getting 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050 didn't make it into the final bill. But money for stepped-up enforcement to prevent wage theft did.
Updated: May 23, 2019 07:24 PM
Created: May 23, 2019 03:07 PM
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