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.
Tax Bill Veto: On Monday of this week, Governor Dayton pocket-vetoed the omnibus tax bill by taking no action on the bill before the 14 day deadline. His veto was due to concerns about an error in a section of the bill relating to charitable gambling taxes that would have cost the state $101 million in lost revenue over the next three years. The main item of interest to libraries in the tax bill is an increase in aid to cities and counties.
Special Session Outlook: On Tuesday, Governor Dayton met with three of the four legislative caucus leaders (Senator Bakk, Speaker Daudt and Representative Thissen; Senator Hann chose not to attend) to discuss a possible special session to pass a bonding bill, a corrected tax bill and some additional budget items that the governor would like to see enacted. The meeting was brief and nothing was resolved. Reportedly they plan to meet again sometime in the middle of next week.
Since then Governor Dayton has been traveling across the state to drum up public support for his priorities for a special session. High on the governor’s list is a transportation funding package that includes transit in the metro area, which is very controversial with House Republicans.
Bonding Bill: As I have previously reported, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a $1.1 billion bonding bill on the last day of session. The bill passed the House, but time ran out before it could pass the Senate. Later it was discovered that there were a number of projects that appeared on the spreadsheet, but were not actually included in the bill (this was not the case for any library projects).
Governor Dayton and legislative leaders are eager to pass a bonding bill during a special session, but reaching agreement will not be easy. Speaker Daudt has said that the House will revert to its original position of a $600 million bonding bill (even though they never actually brought a bill of that size to the House floor), while Governor Dayton has demanded the inclusion of $183 million for projects that were left out of the bill agreed to by the conference committee.
Bonding Conference Committee Hearing: On Tuesday, June 14 the bonding bill conference committee will meet from 1-4 pm in room 10 of the State Office Building. The purpose of the hearing is to review the conference committee agreement and take public testimony. I expect the discussion to focus on the more controversial projects and those that were included on the spreadsheet but left out of the bill. We will keep you posted.
Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates