Time’s Almost Up

As the House and Senate work towards the May 20 adjournment date, the Legislature is rapidly running out of time. With the conclusion of the House and Senate floor sessions on Thursday, May 9, only five legislative days remain to complete their work. It is unusual at this time of year for the Legislature to have more calendar days remaining to complete their work, 10, than legislative days, 5. It’s also worth a reminder that the Legislature cannot pass bills on the final day of session. Total days available, including the last day of session, are 11 (calendar) and 6 (legislative). Most anticipate that the Legislature will use all the calendar and legislative days available.

Capital Investment Bill Marches Forward

The House Capital Investment Bill, H.F. 5220, passed the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday on a party-line vote. The bill contains $898 million in general obligation bonds for projects primarily related to asset preservation for higher education, natural resources, transportation, and public safety along with other state capital needs. Since capital investment bills must originate in the House, the Senate capital investment bill, S.F. 5251, was heard and laid over in the Senate Capital Investment Committee last week. Both bills contain a placeholder for approximately $300 million that will be allocated to local projects prior to the bill’s passage.

Republicans Vow to Vote Against Capital Investment Bill

Because the Minnesota Constitution requires capital investment bills to be passed by three-fifths of all elected members, 81 House members are needed to pass the bill. With a 70-64 partisan split in the House, the majority DFLer’s need 11 Republicans to vote for a bonding bill. In Ways and Means, Representative Pat Garofalo (R-Lakeville) announced that all House Republicans would vote against the bill. Presumably, Republicans are withholding their votes on capital investment to gain leverage on other issues. As one long-time capitol insider said this week, “Republicans will say they won’t vote for a bonding bill…until they do.”

Odds on Sports Betting

One of the most-hyped bills heading into the legislative session is still limping towards the finish line. A bill to authorize and regulate sports wagering, H.F. 2000/S.F. 1949, is waiting to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said on Thursday that she felt that a sports betting bill had a 60 percent chance of passing in the last week of session. Senate passage remains much murkier as the body continues to be bogged down in partisanship surrounding Senator Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury).

Turning Up the Heat

While temperatures have been rising outside (and Minnesotans have been universally loving it!), temperatures also continue to rise in the Minnesota Senate. Earlier this week, the Senate Rules and Administration Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct met to discuss a complaint that had been filed against Sen. Nicole Mitchell following her arrest and charging of first-degree burglary (video/audio available here: Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct, 5.7.24) The committee consists of two Republican and two DFL members. Following a significant discussion, including the presentation of various information that has been provided to the public regarding the situation, Sen. Mitchell’s attorney pleaded the fifth on behalf of his client in answer to almost every question posed. After several deadlocked votes, the committee members went into executive session, eventually returning and agreeing to meet again on June 12, two days after Sen. Mitchell’s next court date.

May 10, 2024