The 2020 Legislative Session came to an unceremonious end on Sunday night with leaders in the House and Senate unable to reach agreement on a number of legislative priorities included a bonding bill, a bill to distribute federal coronavirus relief funds to local units of government, a tax bill, the ratification of state employment contracts, rental assistance, and additional state assistance for businesses. And while the lack of productivity to close out the Session was a disappointment, it might be more akin to pressing the pause button than giving up entirely.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency in early March to provide his office with more authority to respond. That authority has been extended on multiple occasions, but in order for an extension beyond June 12, the Legislature must act. And since the Legislature in now adjourned for the biennium, reauthorizing that peacetime emergency authority will require calling a Special Session. So because of the pandemic response and because of the way the Governor’s authority is structured, a Special Session was all but guaranteed even if the Legislature had been able to finish up their work during the regular Session. As a result some of the pressure to reach a final deal over the weekend was clearly lacking and resulted in the lackluster ending.
Work will continue on the legislative priorities discussed above, but we also expect workforce development issues to emerge as a focal point during special session(s) this summer and be a key focus next year as a newly elected Legislature tries to rebuild the state’s economy after the unprecedented economic fallout from the pandemic. EDAM has an opportunity to play a significant role in framing these discussions throughout the summer and into the next legislative session.