Updates & Commentary on the Legislative Process

  • Voluntary Pre-K held at 2017 level, but does not target neediest children

    Minnesota is spending enormous sums of money on education programs for very young children, but the state’s mission is muddled and the results discouraging. Plus, the policy forces private child care providers to compete with “free” child care, threatening to create a government monopoly on child care. The good news is that the Senate held the line, with no increase in spending, and Gov. Walz, is showing some independence from the teachers’ union.

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  • CCAP gets funding for fraud prevention; Ham still getting paid while on leave

    The health and human services funding bill passed by state lawmakers Saturday provides $5 million to buy a tracking system while hiring new analysts, investigators and inspectors. About $1.3 million of that will be funneled into Ham’s former unit, DHS’s Office of Inspector General. The Inspector General's office will remain under control of DHS rather than being independent of the agency.

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  • Senate GOP Thwarts Permanent Bailout of Municipal Pensions

    A pension bailout to municipalities, that would have effectively made the bailout permanent at about $14 million a year, did not become law . Enjoy the "win" because local government aid (LGA) did get increased.

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Capitol Follies

  • Inputs>Outputs

    The 2019 legislative session produced the second-most total bill introductions ever, 5,846. But results weren’t nearly as productive. Legislators only passed one budget bill, the Higher Education Bill, the fewest number since 1985.

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  • Missed Opportunity

    The leaks of “secret agreements” described above are a missed messaging opportunity for both parties. Each of these budget bills spends billions of taxpayer dollars, and is worthy of its own press conference, at least, but the press corps isn’t going to wait for legislators to put their own messaging spin on the bills before reporting what’s in them. Conservatives often lament the lack of fair press coverage in this state, but the tradition of rushed deal-making at the tail end of session doesn’t help the cause.

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  • Simon Says “I Need More Money”

    Andy Cilek isn’t tired of all the winning yet. The executive director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance has just notched another court victory over Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon in a case involving public data that could expose voter fraud. Even as Simon mulls an appeal of his latest court loss to MVA, Minnesota’s top elections official is requesting funding to pay for another lawsuit at the hands of his nemesis before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. Included in the House DFL’s state government finance bill is $1.29 million requested by Simon to pay attorney fees for Cilek’s...

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Your St. Paul Buzz

  • Who’s in control?

    Capitol observers watching committee hearings over the last few days wonder if Speaker Hortman has any control over the DFL House caucus. Even after she agreed to a final budget deal with Governor Walz and Majority Leader Gazelka, House committee chairs have attempted to push through extremely controversial policy provisions that have no chance of support from the Republican-led Senate. Clearly, House Democrats don’t respect the final deal made by their leader. As a result, virtually every conference committee has required leadership to step in and resolve their disputes. Will the House DFL be able to hold it together long...

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  • Not So Fast

    The triumvirate has suggested the special session could start as early as tomorrow. However, it’s not as simple as picking up where we left off when the regular session was gaveled out at midnight on Monday. The conference committees and their bills also died on Monday night. In a special session, bills must be introduced all over again. The rules call for a minimum of three days of deliberation, which pushes the calendar close to the Memorial Day holiday. As of today, neither minority leader has been contacted to request his cooperation.

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  • Overtime?

    A little birdie tells Capitol Watch the week after the Easter break the legislature will begin considering the massive budget bills that fund the state government. Look for long hours of debate and perhaps a rare Sunday session that has been penciled in for April 28.

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Minnesota Capitol Watch is a project of Center of the American Experiment