DFL committee chair admits legislature is ‘overwhelmed’ by bills so they must be passed without fiscal notes

This morning, HF2, the proposal for paid family and medical leave, sailed through its fifth House committee hearing. Perhaps one reason for its speedy passage is that it isn’t weighted down by a fiscal note.

Fiscal notes, according to the House Fiscal Analysis Department:

…put a price tag on proposed legislation, and are very important in the legislative process. A fiscal note should be an objective opinion on the change in expenditures and revenues that will result from a bill. Legislators need this information to make informed decisions on proposed legislation. A fiscal note may influence if a bill passes, if it fails, or if changes need to be made to the bill to adjust the cost or revenue.

And, today, without this vital information, HF2 passed the State and Local Government Finance and Policy committee, the very committee tasked with overseeing — as the name indicates — state and local government finance.

HF2, remember, is a bill under which “as many as 400 new bureaucrats will be hired using an entirely new computer system: think MNLARS, or MNsure.” How can the committee charged with overseeing state and local government finance possibly vote on this bill without knowing what the financial consequences will be?

I would be tempted to call this the “Brewster’s Millions” style of government, but that would be unfair to Monty Brewster: he knew how much money he was spending.

Rep. Jim Nash (R) made the point that it was impossible for the State and Local Government Finance and Policy committee to make an informed vote on measures pertaining to state and local government finance without knowing what the financial costs of that measure would be. The committee chair, Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL), replied that with 1,500 bills introduced, the legislature is “overwhelmed” and so has no choice but to vote on them without fiscal notes: in other words, they are trying to do so much so quickly that they have no choice but to make uninformed decisions. I guess we’ll have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.

This is how Minnesota is being governed right now. Be afraid. Be very afraid.