A month into the 2022 legislative session, Minnesotans with disabilities are continuing to track an array of bills.
More about how those bills will fare will be known March 25. That is the first bill deadline. Deadlines narrow the field of bills, with some moving ahead and others waiting until next year.
While there is no yearly deadline to introduce new bills, committee action is what needs to be watched. Deadlines apply to most bills, excluding those in House capital investment, ways and means, taxes, or rules and legislative administration. Nor do deadlines apply to Senate capital investment, finances, taxes or rules and administrative committees.
March 25 is the deadline for committees to act favorably upon bills in the house of origin, be it the House or Senate. There isn’t much time between then and the second deadline of April 1, when committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, which met the first deadline in the other house.
The April 8 deadline is key because it’s when committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills
The deadlines can be waived if set procedures are followed. But will so many bills in the hopper, that can be easier said than done.
One big issue hanging over this session’s proceedings is the fate of Gov. Tim Walz’s supplemental budget. State budget years are odd-numbered years and even-numbered years are bonding years. But the governor can and usually does bring forward a supplemental budget in even-numbered years.
Walz’ supplemental budget proposal includes spending in several areas, as well as one-time rebate checks for Minnesotans. The supplemental budget and upcoming state spending decisions are impacted not just by the state’s projected $7.7 billion surplus – the largest ever recorded – but also by federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars that need to be spent.
Another issue still on the table is how to divide $250 million in “hero pay” for front-line workers who worked through the pandemic. That includes health care workers.
The care crisis continues to be a focus in both the house and Senate. Senate Republicans February 17 brought forward a $322 million plan to address staffing issues at group homes and nursing homes. The shortage of workers has caused some group homes to close and move residents. Nursing homes have had to limit new residents. Thew workforce shortage has topped the 20,000 mark.
The Senate proposal discussed February 17 would give facilities’ current workers a $1,000 retention bonus. New workers would get a $750 signing bonus, which would be doubled if they stayed on the job for at least six months. More incentives are offered to help pay for needs such as uniforms and certification’s for specific skills. This proposal and other proposal’s from the governor and member of the House will have to be sorted out before anything is final. Meanwhile, facilities keep making cutbacks or even closing.
Redistricting a focus
Among the many issues swirling about the capitol is redistricting. February 15 was “map day” in Minnesota, when the Minnesota Supreme Court released redistricting maps for state legislative and Congressional districts. The new maps have many significant changes, and will mean further shakeup[s at the state capitol.
The maps were developed by a five-judge Minnesota Supreme Court panel after state lawmakers failed to reach agreement on new district lines. Maps are based on the 2020 U.S. Census and provide population balance in the variance districts.
The maps place 28 incumbents into the same districts: 21 House members and seven Senators. Seventeen of the House pairings are between members of the same party; 10 Republicans and seven DFLers. Six of the seven Senate pairings are between members of the same party.
The maps set off a flurry of speculation. As of Access Press deadline, 30 state lawmakers had announced they would retire or seek other office. It’s possible that list could grow as lawmakers weigh their futures.
One high-profile retirement announced in the wake of redistricting is that of Sen Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), chair of the Senate Finance Committee. She had found herself in the same district as Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake). Rosen is endorsing Draheim.
“Representing the people of southern Minnesota for two decades has been a tremendous honor and I have treasured my time in the Senate,” Rosen said in a statement.
How many more lawmakers could set down or move to a new district isn’t known. In order to run for office, need to be residents of their districts for six months. That means moving by early May, retiring or running against a colleague.
Legislative coverage is by Editor Jane McClure.