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Legislative Update: January 24, 2017

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Committees Still Organizing

The committee process has several stages throughout session. In the beginning of session, informational hearings provide legislators with background information and set the scope of each committee’s jurisdiction. Once the February budget forecast is released by the office of Minnesota Management and Budget, the majority parties in each chamber assign budget targets to each finance committee, which then begin sculpting their budget bills. Most of the bills passed into law are approved later in session, but committees have been hard at work getting several bills ready to be passed by their respective chambers. Here is one highlight of recent committee work.

Counties Transit Improvement Board

A joint House and Senate Transportation committee meeting discussed a proposal that would dissolve the Counties Transportation Improvement Board (CTIB) and allow the member counties (Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties) to double the sales tax collected to fund transit projects throughout the region. Currently CTIB provides one-third of the funding for regional transit projects by collecting a quarter-cent sales tax in the member counties. The meeting to discuss the dissolution of CTIB stems from the lack of state funding for transportation projects in the region, so dissolving CTIB and returning control over transit projects to an individual county level is one way being discussed to allow for more consistent funding. All five member counties would have to approve the change before dissolution can occur.

A Guide to Fiscal Notes

When a committee hears a bill that would have a cost to taxpayers, it usually requires a fiscal note to be completed. A fiscal note is a financial impact statement that is prepared by the office of Minnesota Management and Budget by working with the affected state agencies to estimate the cost of a proposal. When the cost is determined, that information is sent to the finance committee hearing the proposal in the form of a fiscal note. This being a budget year, plenty of bills heard in committee will require a fiscal note.

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