Budget Bills Roll Out

Many House and Senate omnibus budget bills rolled out this week with a flurry of committee hearings, during which legislators walked through each bill, took testimony from the public, and made amendments. The full text of each omnibus bill, as well as spreadsheets outlining the expenditures on each provision, are posted for House and Senate committees, although bills may be amended through next week.

Multiple Sales Tax Increase Proposals

Omnibus budget bills in several committees included proposals to raise the metro-area sales tax in order to provide ongoing funding sources for initiatives. The House’s Housing bill includes a proposal to institute a 0.25% sales tax to fund various housing programs; both House and Senate Transportation committees have floated a 0.75% sales tax to fund transit. Meanwhile, municipal governments across the state are weighing their own sales tax hikes. Local increases must receive sign-off from the legislature before going to voters as a ballot initiative.

Renewed Push for Gun Safety

In the wake of another tragic school shooting, DFL members renewed their push for gun safety measures with several press conferences and hearings on the public safety omnibus bills. Former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords joined leaders on Thursday to encourage action this legislative session. The provisions’ passage is nearly assured in the House, but faces a less-certain path in the Senate.

Standalone Bills Continue Path

While most of the week’s focus was around omnibus finance bills, legislators in the House passed a handful of standalone policy bills off of the floor for passage by the Senate. These proposals include one to criminalize producing “deep fake” images, and another to ban state agencies from asking about job applicants’ criminal histories. Finally, the bill to legalize recreational cannabis renewed its path with a hearing in the House Taxes committee, where members significantly amended the bill’s provisions on taxing low-dose hemp products.

Legislature Prepares for Break

The legislature will conclude its business by 5 pm on Tuesday, April 4. Legislators will be on break through the following week. Business will resume on Tuesday, April 11. After break, omnibus finance bills will begin to be heard in the House Ways & Means committee and Senate Finance committee as they make their way to the chamber floors.

March 31, 2023