2018 Session Preview

180130 Header-Session Preview 600x150

The second year of a biennium often is reserved for a significant bonding bill, policy work, and a smaller supplemental budget. The dynamics of last session and current budget situation mean this year may look a bit different:


The Legislature approved a $988 million bill in 2017, which may impact the size of a bill legislators will agree to this year. Governor Dayton released a $1.54 billion proposal in January with a promise of additional local project recommendations forthcoming. Senate Republicans balked at the size of the proposal and estimated their bill would be more in the $800 million range. A total of $3.3 billion in requests have been submitted to MMB.

180130 Dayton Bonding Graphic


The November forecast revealed a $188 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year, but $178 million of that deficit was attributed to Congress’ failure to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Since November, Congress passed a six-year extension in CHIP funding, which should mitigate some of this expected cost to the state.

Additionally, Congress passed a federal tax reform package in December. That generally has no fiscal impact on Minnesota unless the Legislature takes action to conform, except for one change regarding corporations’ foreign-earned income. Regardless of legislative action, about $153 million in additional revenue is expected to be reported in the February forecast due to this federal change.

Monthly revenue updates from MMB since November have been positive. Spending fluctuations are not considered until the economic forecast, but it is possible all of these circumstances could affect the February forecast.


The Legislature passed a $650 million tax cut in 2017, which would typically mean this session would be relatively quiet in the tax area. However, Congress’ federal tax reform package passed in December leaves the Legislature with serious choices that will be debated this session. If we conform to federal law, significant state-based tax reform will be needed to avoid an $815 million tax increase on Minnesotans. If the state does not conform, 2019 state tax filing will be extremely complicated for most taxpayers.

Legislative funding

The Legislature still does not have a budget of its own. The House and Senate are currently operating on funds originally appropriated to the Legislative Coordinating Commission. Governor Dayton has told the media he is willing to sign a legislative funding bill early in the session, but how that is presented or what other stipulations could be included remain to be seen.

Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach at the Governor's Residence in December 2017.
Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach at the Governor’s Residence in December 2017.

Senate balance and the lieutenant governor

As Senate President, Michelle Fischbach was constitutionally appointed to the position of Lieutenant Governor in January after former-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith was appointed to fill the remainder of former U.S. Senator Al Franken’s term. A constituent of former-Sen. Fischbach sued on the argument that she cannot serve in both the legislative and executive branches of government. An initial court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2018.

Task Force on Sexual Harassment

The Senate DFL supports the creation of a Task Force on Sexual Harassment as part of our continued work to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for everyone at the Capitol, including legislators, staff, and lobbyists. Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives and a former House candidate called on the Legislature in November to create this task force in response to recent allegations of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, Republicans have stated their intent to handle sexual misconduct allegations internally and the creation of a task force appears unlikely.

Capital Investment

Capital investment projects must serve a public purpose and be publicly owned. The money is used by the state, counties, and local units of government to build, enhance, and preserve ...
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Credit freezes and identity security In light of the various and numerous data breeches over the last decade, including the recent Equifax data breech that affected 143 million Americans, legislators ...
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Education: E-12

Republican 2018 session education plans largely unknown The Republican majority held no interim meetings after the 2017 session ended except for a joint hearing on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ...
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Energy and Telecommunications

Renewable Development Fund and biomass Last year the Republican-led Legislature made major changes to the state’s Renewable Development Fund, rolling back financial incentives that support the local solar manufacturing industry, ...
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Environment and Agriculture

Investing in clean water In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, clean and affordable water is expected but cannot be taken for granted. More than 40% of Minnesota’s waters are listed ...
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Health and Human Services

Long-term care facility complaints In November, the Star Tribune ran a series of stories about the state Department of Health mishandling reports of neglect and abuse in Minnesota’s long-term care ...
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Higher Education

Capital investment projects will take center stage for the higher education focus in 2018. The University of Minnesota and MinnState have already outlined their proposals for the coming session. With ...
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Jobs and Housing

Preemption Unsatisfied with progress being made at the Legislature, people have engaged local units of government to raise their standard of living by seeking paid time off and minimum wage ...
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Government email retention policies The Legislature still has not weighed in on local government agencies’ email retention policies. The Legislative Commission on Data Privacy held a hearing on the issue ...
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State and Local Government

Cybersecurity The inability of Republicans to invest in cybersecurity has already had consequences for Minnesotans. Since last session, there have been at least three major reports of statewide IT issues: ...
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Outstanding issues with the 2017 Tax Bill Although the Governor signed the 2017 tax bill that passed during special session, he immediately objected to the overall cost of the bill ...
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MnLARS The rollout of the state’s new web-based Minnesota License and Registration System (MnLARS) information system used to manage the Department of Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) transactions has been ...
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Veterans and Military Affairs

Veterans’ homes As part of the first 2017 State Government Bill, which was vetoed by Governor Dayton, $10 million was allocated for new veterans’ homes in underserved areas of Minnesota ...
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