Where is the Governor’s Supplemental Budget?

With legislators racing toward the first and second bill deadline on March 22, the Walz Administration spent the week behind closed doors putting the finishing touches on its final supplemental budget recommendations. Before the House and the Senate can assemble supplemental budget bills, Governor Walz will need to reveal his plans for the $3.715 billion surplus announced by Minnesota Management and Budget on February 29.

The “Public Option” Option

A public option health care plan, also often referred to as the MinnesotaCare buy-in, has long been discussed as an option for providing health insurance to those who don’t qualify for existing public programs but also struggle to pay for coverage on their own. Last year, the Legislature authorized the Department of Commerce to conduct a study on various models of a public option, prepare legislative recommendations, and even start applying for federal approval of a public option program. The study was conducted over the interim and H.F. 4745 (Rep. Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis) / S.F. 4778 (Senator Melissa Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington) contains the legislative recommendations to keep to proposal moving forward. However, the Department of Commerce has stated that they need legislative action and additional funding prior to seeking federal approval. Despite being introduced in both bodies on March 7, this complex legislation has already had a hearing a both the House and Senate. That said, its fate remains tenuous, especially due to the fact that it is an expensive proposal.

Betting on Sports Betting

For the last several years, Minnesotans inside and outside of the Capitol have been betting on whether sports betting would be legalized. After making significant progress through the legislative process last year, a new version of the legislation has revitalized the issue. The Senate has held two hearings this year on S.F. 1949 (Sen. Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights), and the bill now sits in the Senate Finance Committee. The House bill, H.F. 2000 (Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids), has also been progressing through the committee process once again, however, it is still anyone’s bet as to whether the legislation can make it over the finish line this year.

School Resource Officer Bill Signed

Following passage by the House last week, H.F. 3489 (Sen. Bonnie Westlin, DFL-Plymouth / Rep. Cedric Frazier, DFL-New Hope) was passed by the Senate, sent to Conference Committee, repassed by the House and Senate, and signed by Governor Walz this week. The legislation clarifies the use of restraints allowed by school resource officers and others in schools and establishes guidelines for creating a model policy for school resource officers (SROs). This has been a contentious issue since 2023, when many SROs were pulled out of schools following a law change, and was considered a top priority for this legislative session by members on both sides of the partisan aisle.

Full-Time Legislature Possible with Proposed Constitutional Amendment 

Minnesota’s Constitution significantly limits the amount of time the Legislature can meet in regular session. The Legislature is not permitted to meet in regular session “after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year” and the number of legislative days in a biennium is capped at 120. House Majority Leader Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis) and Senator Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville) have introduced a bill, H.F. 4598 / S.F. 4785, that would strike these limits from Minnesota’s Constitution. If this amendment passes the House and Senate (it does not require action from the Governor), it would be placed on the November 2024 ballot.

March 15, 2024