Legislative Update 2016-05-16

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.

End of Session Negotiations: The legislative session is nearing the end. Legislators must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23. Since they cannot pass bills on the final day, time is running short for Governor Dayton and legislative leaders to reach agreement on transportation, taxes, a supplemental budget bill and a bonding bill. They met twice last week and so far all they have agreed upon is that they want to reach an agreement on a transportation package before working on the other three bills. Governor Dayton plans to present a compromise proposal on Monday.

Bonding Bill: The Senate’s bonding bill, which spent a total of $1.8 billion, failed on the Senate floor by 1 vote. Bonding bills require a super majority of 3/5, which means 41 votes are needed to pass the Senate. The bill only received 40 votes. Only 1 Republican, Senator Carla Nelson of Rochester, voted for the bill.

During the debate Republicans offered a bonding bill of their own, which spent $992 million. It cut funding for Library Construction Grants to $1 million and eliminated funding for the new East Central Regional Library headquarters/Cambridge Library and the Bagley Public Library. The proposal only garnered 18 votes.

House Republicans still have not brought forward a bonding bill. They originally said they wanted to spend only $600 million, but Speaker Daudt admitted to reporters that a bill of that size will not get the 81 votes needed to pass the House. This prompted Senate Majority Leader Bakk to observe that the Senate bill is too big to pass and the House bill is too small to pass. If a bonding bill does pass this session, it will need to be somewhere in between.

A bill significantly smaller than the Senate bill with more emphasis on transportation projects is likely to come out of the House, and that could mean no funding for Library Construction Grants. Now is the time for members of the House to hear from you.

PLEASE contact your representatives in the House and urge them to make sure that Library Construction Grants are included in the House bonding bill!

Supplemental Budget (HF 2749): A ten member conference committee is negotiating a 600 page omnibus supplemental budget bill. The conferees met three times last week to have staff walk through a side by side comparison of the provisions in the House and Senate bills. Another meeting is scheduled for 6pm tonight (Sunday). Negotiations on budget items cannot get serious until Governor Dayton and legislative leaders agree on how much spending will be included in the bill. That will depend on how much is spent on transportation, which is being negotiated in a separate conference committee. As a reminder, the items we are following in the supplemental budget conference committee are Border to Border Broadband grants, K-12 broadband grants, total operating capital and after school funding. See my April 29 update for details.