10:00 pm – DISASTER RELIEF BILL GOING TO GOVERNOR
The Senate has taken up the revised disaster relief bill and Senator Weber has ushered it to passage. The next stop is the Governor for signature.
10:00 pm – two hours remaining
With the passage of a bonding bill in the House, the tax and state government funding bills have gone to their next destination and are being debated now.
9:40 pm – A revised and smaller bonding bill passes off the House floor.
As we were wondering all day why the Senate wasn’t taking up the tax bill and the House wasn’t taking up the State Government Finance bill, the AP reported that each chamber was holding the bills to ensure that the other didn’t adjourn too early. Apparently even under single party control there is still significant distrust amongst the leadership. It was later reported the Senate would only pass on the State Government Finance bill if the House sent over a revised, and smaller, bonding bill.
The bonding bill came up immediately after my disaster relief bill. And, unlike the bonding bill from Friday, gained my support. The bill bonds for $176 million (much smaller than the nearly $900 million one on Friday) of which the bulk was the preservation of our state capitol building ($109 million). Another $20 million was appropriated for flood mitigation to finish at least five projects throughout the state, and finally $8 million to the public facilities authority. It was very important to get the public facilities authority money as there are federal matching funds of $40 million available. These funds have been used throughout the district most recently with sewer systems in our smaller towns. Most recently, Dundee recieved funds from the PFA for this, and Tracy is in the process of this right now.
9:25 pm- SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA DISASTER RELIEF BILL PASSES OFF HOUSE FLOOR
Moments ago, the disaster relief bill for Rock, Nobles, Jackson, Murray, and Cottonwood Counties was passed off of the House floor. Rep. Hamilton was able to succcessfully secure an additional $250,000 in support aid for stump grinding and other costs to the counties that are not covered under the FEMA reimbursements.
With those changes, the bill has to go back to the Senate to concure before it goes to the Governor.
HF1389, which makes various changes to the laws governing the Office of Enterprise Technology, including the sunset provisions, giving the head officer a Commissioner position, and eliminates contract timeline limitations, passed off the floor.
7pm – 5 hours remain-
HF590, which creates criminal penalties for assaulting transit operators, passes the House.
————————————————————————————————————— 6:38 pm – And we’re back!
We’re on HF316, which changes the permitted weights for axels in MnDOT district 4.
The Senate just passed the Disaster Relief Bill – it should be coming over to the House shortly. Thanks to Senator Weber for getting this done in the Senate!
6:25 pm – Still in recess, but members are gathered on the House floor.
The lights are dimmed in the chamber – mood lighting or ominous signal of the time ticking down and the work that needs to yet be done?
4:55 pm – the Campaign Finance Bill passes.
The House is recessing for about an hour.
4:41 pm – the Omnibus Legacy Bill passes 77-57
The next bill up is a campaign finance bill overhaul, SF 661 – mainly modernizing raising and spending limits that haven’t been adjusted in nearly two decades.
4:10 pm – In a final day oddity, the Senate has actually been in recess since 12:30 this afternoon trying to fix the tax bill. Senator Weber has been kind enough to visit his House counterparts a couple of times during the break to let us know what’s going on over there.
The House is still debating the Omnibus Legacy Bill.
3:45 pm – We’re now wrapping up the first hour of debate on the conference committee report for the Omnibus Legacy bill. Highlights include:
- The Outdoor Heritage fund is returned to an annual appropriation.
- Over $6 million of additional spending for grants to metro parks, none of which was allocated to rural parks. This was not a recommendation of LSOHC.
- The Parks & Trails part of the bill returns to the Governor’s recommendations, which split the money as follows:
- 40% to DNR – spent according to Department priorities
- 40$ to the Metro – distributed according to a statutory formula
- 20% to Greater Minnesota – distributed via grant
- The Clean Water Fund has been returned to the Clean Water Council recommendations
- The Ag Water Quality certification is funded at $3 million for the biennium
8 hours, 15 minutes remaining of the 2013 session. We still have the State Government Finance bill and our disaster relief bills that MUST be heard today.
2:25 pm – The omnibus elections bill HF894 is up on the floor. Highlights include:
- No excuse absentee voting
- Vouching reduced from 15 voters to 8 voters maximum
- Mail balloting allowed for any township size.
2:21 pm – 9.5 hours left of session. Childcare and PCA unionization passes the House and will be sent to the Governor on a vote of 68-66 with bipartisan opposition. I anticipate he will be signing this legislation, which provides for childcare and PCA’s who have publicly subsidized clients to unionize under a public union. These small business owners can already unionize or utilize professional organizations to help represent them at the capitol, but this soon-to-be law will call for an election on whether to unionize publically. It’s believed the election could be called for as early as this summer.
12:22 pm – HF 1832, our disaster relief funding, has been placed on the calendar for today. That’s very positive news to know that it’s at least on the agenda. It was on the agenda last Friday, too, and was passed over then. We’re working to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
12:20 pm – Highlights from the Omnibus Transportation Policy Bill
- Scrap metal dealers are required to notify the Department of Public Safety within 10 days of purchasing a vehicle to dismantle or destroy, and must retain the title or a copy of the motor vehicle record.
- When the bill passed off the House floor, there was a provision to change all 55 mph to 60 mph zones – that provision was removed in conference committee
- Federal conformity on medical examiner certificate requirements for CDL applicants included
- Weight by which vehicles with idle reduction technology may exceed the vehicle weight limits increased from 400 lbs to 550 lbs
Monday, Noon – 12 Hours Left of Session –
The omnibus transportation policy bill just passed off the floor.
We are now taking up the childcare providers unionization bill.
2:30 am House passes tax bill, adjourns until 11am Monday. See you then.
11:10pm House just passes motion to meet past midnight.
Handouts from Pork Producers and Farm Bureau opposing the ag input storage tax provision of the tax bill are being destributed.
11:05pm – Tax bill debate continues in the House.
It was just announced that the conference committee for the Minimum Wage bill will meet at 10 am tomorrow (14 hours before the end of session). The House version is at $9.50 by 2015; Senate is at $7.75 by then. There’s also the point about inflation indexing that was in the House provision.
I’m hearing now that the disaster relief matching funds bill will be brought up later tonight.
10:15pm – Rep. Rod Hamilton thanks the conference committee for the accelerated LGA for our districts towns this year.
Questions about ag inputs being taxed raised. LP and anhydrous tanks will be taxed under the new business to business provisions if you rent the storage tanks. If you own it will not be taxed.
Farm equiptment repairs will also now be taxed.
The arguement for this is that there are sales tax relief in other areas of the bill.
10:00pm – Rep. Kelby Woodard (R- Belle Plaine) is offering background on the education funding portions of the tax bill. The tax bill left the House floor two weeks ago with the $800 million to pay the schools back, they’re gone in the returned bill and instead rely on the current growth in the economy to pay it back.
$34 million is also appropriated towards the school property tax recognition shift, and $60 million towards a general education levy. A levy limit also gets applied in 2015 to the school districts.
The tax brackets in this bill will make Minnesota the 4th highest in the country.
26 Hours Left of Session
9:40pm – Non-partisan research summary of the final tax bill (a much easier read) can be found here
9:35pm – Highlights of the Tax Omnibus Bill
- Expands business to business taxes on: storage services, telecommunication, and electronic and commerical purchaes repair and services
- Cigarette tax increased which can be used for the Vikings Stadium if e-pull tabs don’t turn around
- Creates a 4th income tax tier at 9.85% for incomes above $150,000 (single) and $250,000 (joint)
- Decreaes the income thresholds for the 7.05% and 7.85% brackets which means taxes will go up for people earning as little as $22,000 a year
- Higher standard deduction for married filers
- Expands the businesses that qualify for the Angel Investment Credit
- Increases in college tuition deductions
- Provides a tax credit for a Greater Minnesota Internship Program
- Additional $5 tax on homeowner and automotive insurnace policies.
- County Program Aid increased by $40 million
- Allocates $3 million for senate offices in a new building
- Provides $1.86 million for relocation expenses for the senate moving into new offices
- Imposes a gift tax to complement the estate tax
- Adds taxable gifts made within three years of the decedents death to the taxable estate
- Revised formula for LGA, accelerated LGA payments for towns affected by last months snow storm (Rep. Hamilton’s provision)
- Fails to directly pay back to the delayed school payments
8:15pm – We are back from recess and taking up the conference committee report from the tax bill.
We are now 27 hours and 45 minutes from constitutional adjournment. After this the only other bill we have to take up to balance the budget will be the State Government Finance Bill.
5:35 pm – There have been two amendments up in the last two and a half hours, one that would allow small daycare business owners and PCA’s to recind their union membership at any time (which failed), and an amendment relieving family child care providers and PCA’s from abiding by negotiated agreements or paying dues and fees associated with not abiding by the negotiations.
The State Government Finance Bill has been completed in conference committee. What will likely capture the most headlines is the authorized pay raises for politicians. The proposal excludes the legislature and only applies to the constitutional officers and the Governors appointments. I remain firm in my opposition to pay raises at any level while we are trying to recover and have difficult decisions to make. The same PCA’s that the majorities are trying to unionize this evening before the budget is done are the same PCA’s that are receiving only a 1% raise in 2015. It’s the first raise they’ll receive in four years, and at a time when taxes are being raised by over $2 billion, I would have thought those who care for people who can’t take care of themselves would be a higher priority.
It’s rumored that we’ll be going into recess around 6 tonight to give us a chance to glance at the tax bill and the state government finance bill. It’ll be another long night. 30 Hours and 25 minutes until the constitutional end of session.
Still no word on the disaster recovery bill. There is still animosity in the failure of passing a bonding bill on Friday. To hold $1.5 million of aid after an act of God because of a vote on a bonding bill is disgraceful. The disaster relief was less than 0.2% of the bonding bill, but there was $70 million available for the metropolitan council to put $7 million into Minneapolis sculpture gardens. Public Television got more than $9 million in the request, the MN Children’s Museum would recieve $14 million to double it’s size, and $5 million was set to go to the St. Paul Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The bonding bill we voted on last Friday would have left a $65 million a year debt service for the state and would have spent over $800 million.
We have a bill on the floor that appropriates the relief funds from the general fund. Rep. Hamilton and I are looking into all possible options so that our districts are no longer held hostage.
2:46 pm The Omnibus Transportation Finance Bill was passed with 77 votes.
Now we are back to the unionization of small business owners in the childcare field and personal care attendents. There are still about 100 amendments available to debate. We began debate at 2am this morning and adjourned at 7am, and got through about 5 amendments in that time.
Both organized labor and child care providers are rallied in the rotunda today with very different messages for legislators.
The unionization bill is SF778, and the amendments being discussed today can be found here.
2:08 pmGood afternoon, with less than 36 hours left in the 2013 legislative session, I thought I’d offer some live blogging of what’s happening in the House Chamber.
Live Video of Session can be found here
At 1:00pm the House was called to order, the first bill up was the Omnibus Game and Fish Bill (SF796) the bill passed and I supported it. The Omnibus Game and Fish bill was an effort to protect the hunting anf fishing way of life that many MInnesotans enjoy. There are provisions in the bill that work to engage more kids into these activities, and allows the DNR to more effectively enforce bowfishing and corrections to the AIS laws.
Next was SF1276, a compromise bill between the banking community and housing-rights activitsts that deal with loss mitigation by mortgage lenders and servicers. The bill passed with no opposition.
We are currently on the Transportation Finance Omnibus Bill (HF1444). I supported the bill when it left the House floor because the formulas seemed fair for the balance between rural and metro funds, and roads and bridges versus twin city trains. However, coming back from conference committee, I intend on voting against the bill becuase that fair funding shifted more towards the metro. Coming back more expensive, the conference committee added an additional $55 million for light rail operations and expands the wheelage tax statewide and doubles the amount.
More as it comes — we are still waiting to hear back on the Disaster Relief Bill for our area. We are also waiting to have the conference committees for State Government Finance and Taxes to conclude their work so we can vote on it.