Legislative Prep 2016

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

Happy precinct caucus day!

The Legislative session begins one week from today.  Here are some key things to know:

State Economic Forecast:  The February forecast was released last Friday.  The projected state budget surplus is now $900 million, down from the $1.2 billion that was projected in early December.  This will make it much tougher for anyone hoping for new spending or tax cuts.

Governor’s Budget:  Governor Dayton is set to release his supplemental budget recommendations on March 15.  He has said that, given the downturn in the surplus, he is likely to propose a limited amount of one-time spending.  Previously he had said he would propose $100 million in broadband grants to underserved communities.  This is the sort of spending that could be done on a one-time basis.  The Governor’s top priority remains universal pre-school for all 4 year olds, but legislators remain skeptical, especially in the House.

Library Construction Grants:  This Thursday, March 3, the House Capital Investment Committee will hold a day-long hearing where state agencies will present their bonding requests that made it into the Governor’s Capital Budget.  MDE has been allotted a 20 minute time period from 11:40am to noon to present Library Construction Grants and a proposal for improvements to the Red Lake School.  The hearing will be in Room 200 State Office Building.

Committee Deadlines:  Deadlines this session are quite early, ensuring that the session moves at a fast pace.  Here are the dates:

First deadline:  Friday, April 1.  By this date a bill must have passed through all of the policy committees it needs to be heard in and have either been sent to a finance committee or to the floor in order to remain alive.

Second Deadline:  Friday, April 8.  By this date a bill must have met the criteria for meeting the first deadline in BOTH the House and Senate to remain alive.

Third Deadline:  Thursday, April 21.  By this date the omnibus spending bills must be passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Legislative Calendar:  Traditionally the Legislature takes a week-long break for Passover and Easter.  This year because of the shortness of the session and because Passover and Easter are a month apart, legislators will instead take two short breaks.  The Legislature will be on a break for Easter beginning on Friday, March 25 and returning at noon on Tuesday, March 29.  The Legislature will take Friday, April 22 off because Passover begins that day at sundown.  The legislative session must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23 at midnight.

Legislative Retirements:  Amid the growing number of legislators who have announced that they will not seek re-election this year, the most notable for the library community is Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer).  Senator Stumpf has been a long-time champion for libraries and we will miss him.  For a complete list of retiring legislators, follow this link:  http://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/histleg/retire

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates