Legislative Update | May 5, 2020

The Minnesota Legislature is coming into the home stretch with the constitutionally mandated adjournment date looming on May 18. There remains much to be done in the final week with action packed agendas on both House and Senate floors. Negotiations continue on an omnibus bonding bill, an omnibus tax bill, and a bill to provide Legislative oversight to federal funds allocated to the state in the CARES Act.

House Democrats want a large bonding bill and unveiled their proposal on Monday. The $2.5 billion package is similar to Governor Walz’s bonding proposal and will be taken up on Tuesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. Senate Republicans have not yet released their own bonding package, but have been publicly discussing a much smaller bill closer to the $700 million range. Senate Republicans have linked their support for a bonding bill to the willingness of House Democrats to pass an omnibus tax bill.

How federal funds are allocated to local units of government is emerging as another key issue needing agreement before the end of Session. Republicans in the Senate have introduced a bill that would allocated $667 million to counties and cities based on a per capita formula, but Democrats in the House have not yet introduced a companion bill. If there is no legislative agreement, the money would be distributed by Minnesota Management and Budget with little to no Legislative oversight.

Governor Walz’s peacetime emergency authority is another sticking point to wrapping up legislative business for the year. The Governor’s initial peacetime emergency is set to expire on Wednesday, but he can extend his emergency powers for 30 days. After that 30 day extension, however, the Governor would need to get Legislative approval for any additional extensions. This sets up a potential special session showdown with Senate Republicans and Governor Walz on June 14, a scenario that looks more and more likely with each passing day.

We will continue to monitor legislative activity during the final week of the regularly scheduled session and stand ready to do the same for any special session(s) that may follow.