Ten days remain before the last day of the Minnesota legislative session May 23, 2016. Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and House Speaker Kurt Daudt met twice in the past week to negotiate an agreement on budget targets for the conference committees.
Senate Tax Bill
The Senate voted to pass its omnibus Tax Bill (HF3931) on Wednesday by a vote of 37-30. The bill includes the Paid Family Leave bill which creates an insurance program funded by employers and employees to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year for those seeking parental leave or to care for an ill family member. Also in the bill is a provision that would address sales tax remittance for online marketplaces, a tax break for a Major League Soccer stadium in St. Paul, a Working Family Tax Credit also included in Governor Dayton’s proposal, and conformity with federal tax law changes. Since the House and Senate have an existing Tax Conference Committee from the unresolved negotiations of the 2015 session, this bill will be added to the discussion in the existing Tax Conference Committee. This conference committee has not met in 2016.
The House Ways & Means Committee heard the House version of the Real ID bill (HF3959) and adopted language in an amendment that makes the bill similar to the version in the Senate. Those changes included a two-track system, which would allow Minnesotans to choose between a Real ID compliant license or a standard license. The Senate took up the Real ID bill (SF3589) carried by Senator Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) on the floor on Thursday. With limited debate, it passed by a vote of 48-16. Senators adopted an amendment to the bill that would prohibit the Department of Vehicle Services or its commissioner from implementing Real ID changes without legislative enactment. Opponents of the bill cited privacy issues and existing access to enhanced drivers’ licenses among their concerns.
The Conference Committee on HF2749, the Supplemental Budget Bill, met several times this week in lengthy hearings to compare language from the House and Senate bills. After three days, the committee began to take testimony from some state agencies at the request of conference committee members. The Conference Committee is awaiting targets before entering full negotiations between House and Senate committee members.
On Wednesday, the Transportation Conference Committee met to discuss the House Republican’s offer on the Transportation omnibus bill (HF4). The House Republicans have consistently stated they will not accept an increase in the gas tax, and that they do not want to put additional funding into transit. The Senate DFL members felt the House offer was not comprehensive, since it did not include funding for transit. Other DFL members expressed concerns with taking a significant amount of money from the General Fund. At the end, both chairmen stated that although the House and Senate offers are still far apart, they appreciated movement toward to reaching a deal.
Upcoming Legislative Notes
Governor Dayton, House Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk will continue negotiations on Monday. The Supplemental Budget Conference Committee will meet again once it is given a target. Speaker Daudt expects to release a bonding proposal next week. The House will take up the Real ID bill on the floor on Tuesday.
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