Detail of the arch that rises above the House Speaker’s rostrum in the Minnesota Capitol (Photo: Kevin Featherly)(Photo: Kevin Featherly)
Your weekly guide to what’s coming up, going on this week
The clock is ticking. But, as the week begins, there are few visible signs of movement.
Minnesota lawmakers, operating quietly and out of public view in various “working groups,” continue their negotiations to hammer budget-and-policy bills into shape before the fiscal year ends June 30.
Failing that, there will be a government shutdown. And this time, courts are unlikely to step in and keep government agencies partially funded by court order.
A spreadsheet detailing a public safety/judiciary omnibus agreement still has not been posted. But top-line budget targets have been in place for weeks now, so it seems clear that the real arguments must be about policy, not spending.
One of the primary sticking points is police reform. Democrats with constituents stinging from the deaths of George Floyd and others in police custody, insist on it. They have proposed dozens of police reforms, including no-knock warrants limits and an end to traffic stops for unpaid license tabs.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, who expresses greater interest in curbing Twin Cities violent crime than in new police policies, says his chamber won’t abide by any “anti-police” legislation. But he also says some areas of agreement could be reached. House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, told the StarTribune’s editorial page Saturday that “we're starting to reach common ground on some items.”
So there is reason to anticipate movement in the coming days.
Yet there are other sticking points, too, including the governor’s ongoing emergency powers, new GOP-opposed state clean-air emission standards and school vouchers.
But there have been several areas of concord, too. Spreadsheets in three budget divisions (commerce, high education and Legacy Amendment funding) were posted last week. As a result, a few workgroups plan this week to walk through their agreements publicly, in online hearings. They include:
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