MLBA Capitol Update for March 22, 2013
Second Committee Deadline: The second policy committee deadline is at midnight on Friday, March 22nd. After this date, a bill that has not been passed by the appropriate policy committees in the House and Senate are considered to have not made the committee deadline timeframe. In order for a bill that missed deadline to more forward, it would need to be considered by the House or Senate Rules Committee. This is a way to “thin out” the large number of bills that are introduced each session, but may not have legislative support.
MNsure: The Legislature completed it’s work on the bill to establish a Minnesota health insurance exchange and Governor Dayton signed the bill into law on Wednesday. That same day, it was announced that the health insurance exchange will be branded as “MNsure”. By April 30, the Governor will appoint six MNsure board members to serve with Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. That will be done through an open application process. Insurance providers will begin placing plans on the exchange website beginning in October, with purchasing set to begin Jan. 1, 2014. Up to 1.3 million residents are expected to purchase insurance through MNsure. The bill passed along mostly party lines – Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposing the bill, one House DFL member voted against the bill.
House and Senate DFL Budget Targets: The House and Senate DFL majorities released budget targets for the individual budget committees to follow when assembling the omnibus budget bills. Spending in the current budget ending June 30 is slightly more than $35 billion. The House proposal comes in slightly less than $38 billion while the Senate just tops that figure. The governor’s plan falls in between. The House budget targets propose to add an income tax surcharge on the top income earners and to use those funds to pay back the K-12 education finance shift. The Governor and Senate DFL propose to pay this back in the next biennium. The House and Senate both propose funding for all-day kindergarten programs, and propose additional funding for jobs and economic development. The House and Senate DFL both propose cutting spending on health and human services programs by $150 million. And, both the House and Senate provide debt service for a bonding bill in the range of $750 – $800 million. The details on the budget and targets will be worked out in committees over the next several weeks. The Speaker of the House anticipates that all budget bills will be on the House Floor at the end of April.
High Profile Issues: A number of high profile issues are continuing to work through the committee process in the House and Senate. Among these issues are – funding for a Mayo Clinic/Rochester major expansion, legislation to unionize child care providers, bills addressing school bullying policies, gun control and background check legislation, a re-write of the state’s local government aid (LGA) funding formula to cities, legislation relating to frac sand mining and others. Work on these bills will continue following the legislative break in the first weeks of April.
Next Week: The Legislature will be taking a recess for the Passover and Easter holidays from Friday, March 22 until Tuesday, April 2 at 12:00 p.m.. There will be no Capitol Update Report during the legislative break. When the Legislature returns, the House and Senate budget and finance committees will begin putting together the omnibus budget bills.