2016 Legislative Session Ends

The following information was shared via email with the library community on Monday, May 23, 2016 by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

The 2016 legislative session has ended with very mixed results. Last night the Legislature passed the omnibus tax bill and the omnibus supplemental budget bill. However, as noted in my previous message, the Legislature failed to pass the bonding bill before the midnight deadline for passing bills.

Governor Dayton held a press conference a few minutes ago and indicated he has not yet decided whether to call a special session. He said that he and legislative leaders need time to get some rest and assess the situation.

Bonding Bill: The bonding conference committee reached agreement on a $1.135 billion bill on Sunday evening, just a few hours before the midnight deadline for passing bills. The bill included $2 million for Library Construction Grants and $820,000 for the library at the Minnesota state Career and Technical College in Wadena. It did not include funding for the new East Central Regional Library headquarters/Cambridge Library, the Bagley Library or the Eastside Freedom Library.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 91-39. It was amended in the Senate to raise the limit on how much the Metropolitan Council could contribute to a rail project (clearly aimed at the Southwest Light Rail Transit line) before passing by a vote of 53-12. Because the bill had been amended on the Senate floor, it had to go back to the House for a final vote, but before that happened the House adjourned. It was messy and chaotic and House and Senate leaders are blaming each other for the failure of the bonding bill to make it across the finish line.

Supplemental Budget Bill: The budget bill spends a total of $182 million. It includes $35 million for Border to Border Broadband Grants and $500,000 for grants of up to $50,000 to K-12 schools for broadband Wi-Fi Hotspots. It does not include an increase in total operating capital and does not provide any funding for after school programs.

Omnibus Tax Bill: The tax bill increases aid to cities by $20 million per year and increases aid to counties by $10 million per year.

Legacy Bill: The Legacy bill dealt mainly with appropriations for the Outdoor Heritage Fund, for which appropriations are made annually rather than for the biennium. However, we were keeping an eye on one piece of language designed to reinforce the idea that Legacy funds are meant to supplement, not supplant, previous funding. The original language in the House bill was rather awkward, as a couple of you pointed out to me. The final version included in the bill is much more clear. It states:

“Any state agency or organization requesting a direct appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund must inform the house of representatives and senate committees having jurisdiction over the arts and cultural heritage fund, at the time the request for funding is made, whether the request is supplanting or is a substitution for any previous funding that was not from a legacy fund and was used for the same purpose.”

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

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