Notes from the Capitol: Legislative Update

The 2018 legislative session is rapidly coming to a close. The State Constitution requires the session to end on Monday, but it also requires that bills be passed no later than midnight on Sunday. Here is where some of the top issues currently stand:

Capital investment bill – The House passed their capital investment bill (“bonding bill”) with bipartisan support on Monday. However, the Senate failed to pass their version of the bill. The vote was 34-33, with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. The bill failed since the capital investment bill requires that 60% of the body must vote yes in order for it to pass. In the Senate, that means the bill needs at least 41 votes to pass. The DFL members want a larger bill, closer in size to Governor Dayton’s $1.5 billion proposal.

With only a few days left to reach an agreement, it remains unclear whether lawmakers will be able to negotiate a deal and pass a bonding bill this session.

Taxes – The House and Senate passed a tax bill, but Governor Dayton vetoed it yesterday. Republicans and Democrats had sought a bill to conform state tax law to the recently reformed federal system – without a bill, individuals and businesses will face a challenging and potentially costly tax filing season next year. However, Republicans in the Legislature have focused on reducing taxes, while the Governor is seeking additional funding for K-12 education. The conventional wisdom is that a deal is still possible.

Supplemental finance bill – A large “omnibus omnibus” bill, with funding for several budget areas including broadband, child care access, the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant program and several other priorities, is still being negotiated in conference committee. More information on the status of these GMNP priorities will come to light as the final days of the session unfold.

Constitutional Amendment – Yesterday, the House passed a bill that would ask voters to consider a new constitutional amendment that would dedicate the sales tax on car parts to roads and bridges. Whether or not you support the amendment, the debate is interesting. Some House members who voted for the last proposed constitutional amendment for transit and transportation in 2005 are now arguing against this new amendment due to the impact it will have on the state general fund in the future, while some members who were against the 2005 amendment are now in favor of the new one.

Although the House passed the amendment bill, it has been unable to make much traction in the Senate, where it is currently awaiting action in the Tax Committee. Unless the Senate can drum up enough support for the bill by Sunday night’s deadline, it seems unlikely the amendment will be on the ballot in November.

Have a great weekend, and thank you for your support and membership in the Greater Minnesota Partnership!

– GMNP Executive Director Dan Dorman,