The Minnesota Legislature had a short week, with no official business on Friday due to their Easter recess. The legislature will return on Tuesday, March 29, at noon. This week, committees continued to hear budget details from state agencies regarding Governor Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget released last Monday. With the approaching first committee deadline at the end of next week, committees are busy, frequently meeting into the evening.
Iron Range Unemployment
On Monday, the House returned a bill to the Senate (SF209) that addressed unemployment benefits for Iron Range iron ore workers with added unemployment insurance benefits for businesses. The Senate DFL majority refused to pass the bill. The Senate then unanimously passed a bill (SF2891) that addressed the House unemployment insurance provision, which would return excess funds from the unemployment insurance trust funds to employers beyond a certain threshold. The House suspended their rules to consider the bill the same day, and unanimously passed SF2891. The House also passed the unemployment benefits extension for Iron Range workers (SF1006). Both bills were signed by Governor Dayton.
In 2015, the riparian buffer law requiring 50-foot and 16.5-foot buffers along waterways and drainage ditches was passed and signed by Governor Dayton. Legislators continue to work on a new bill that would clarify implementation and compensation for landowners. Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) brought forth a bill with buffer clarifications (HF3000) to the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which the committee laid over to act upon at a later date. The House Agriculture Policy Committee also had informational hearings regarding buffer law implementation. The Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee passed SF2191 on Wednesday, which establishes pollinator investment grants. The grants in the program would be available for farmers who decide not to plant seeds treated with neonicotinoids.
On Monday, the Senate debated the first Real ID bill, SF1646, which would allow planning for eventual implementation. It passed with bipartisan support, 63-2. The bill restores authority to the Department of Public Safety to plan for future implementation and compliance with the federal Real ID Act. The House will debate this Real ID bill on Tuesday. In the future, the Legislature will need to act on implementation and compliance.
Upcoming Legislative Notes
The legislature is not in Session today, Friday, March 25, or Monday, March 28, due to the holiday. When they return on Tuesday, legislators will be working toward the first of three formal committee deadlines. By the first committee deadline, April 1, a committee must act favorably upon a bill in the body of origin. By the second deadline, April 8, committees must act favorably on bills or companions that met the first deadline in the other house. By April 21, the third deadline, committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.
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