State Government and Veterans
PASSED AND SIGNED INTO LAW
Legislative budget – HF 399
After he line-item vetoed the Legislature’s operating budget at the end of the 2017 session, Governor Dayton approved $129.1 million in funding for the current biennium. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the veto last fall and determined that the Legislature had sufficient revenue to operate until the start of the 2018 session. As a result, the Supreme Court did not address the issue of whether the veto violated the Constitution’s separation of powers. The $20 million from the Legislative Coordinating Commission (LCC) carryforward account and the office’s FY 2019 appropriation used to temporarily finance the Legislature’s operating budget were transferred back to the LCC. The bill also replaces $15 million in general fund money provided through an earlier district court decision.
Public employee contracts – SF 3154
The new public employee contracts provide a modest 2% cost-of-living increase (COLA) in 2018 and 2019. The modest compensation increases for college faculty, correctional officers, and nurses were bargained in good faith but are still below wage increases for comparable positions in the private market. The contracts are necessary to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce to effectively and efficiently deliver core state services to taxpayers.
DID NOT PASS
Prohibition on Ranked Choice Voting – SF 3325
Republican lawmakers tried to prohibit cities, counties, towns, and school districts from implementing ranked-choice voting (RCV), which allows voters to rank additional candidates for an office if one candidate does not receive a majority on the first tabulation. If no candidate reaches 50% support, votes for the least popular candidate are redistributed to the voters’ second choice until the 50% threshold is met. Minneapolis and St. Paul currently use RCV for citywide elections. This billed stalled in the rules committee.
Regulations on take-out containers – SF 3135
Republican lawmakers tried to prohibit cities and counties from regulating, banning, or taxing restaurant take-out containers. The bill also prohibited fees on containers. The broad definition of “auxiliary containers” included any product used to transport merchandise, food, or beverages purchased from a retailer. These containers include bags, cups, bottles, and other packaging, whether reusable or single-use, made of cloth, paper, plastic, foamed plastic, cardboard, corrugated material, aluminum, glass, postconsumer recycled materials or substrates, including coated, laminated, or multilayer substrates.
The bill expanded upon last year’s plastic bag preemption legislation. It rolled back ordinances passed by Minneapolis and St. Louis Park preventing the use of materials such as Styrofoam or BPA plastics in food service take-out containers. The League of Minnesota Cities and Association of Minnesota Townships opposed the bill, which did not advance in the legislative process.
US Bank Stadium reserves
Republican lawmakers introduced a proposal to finance the construction of three new veterans’ homes using assets from a US Bank Stadium reserve account. It did not advance in the legislative process. See the bonding section for additional information regarding funding for veterans’ homes.
Supplemental budget – SF 3656
The budget directed all state agencies to withhold 3.5% of their Information Technology (IT) budgets for cybersecurity, which limits agency flexibility. It also cut the budget of the State Auditor and authorized the Secretary of State to spend $1.5 million in the current biennium from the Help America Vote Act account. Language related to the operations of the new Legislative Budget Office faced opposition from Minnesota Management and Budget because it would have resulted in concurrent fiscal notes in future sessions. The budget also ignored Governor Dayton’s request for a new sexual harassment prevention office to create a safe and healthy environment for public employees.
Metropolitan Council restructure – SF 2809
Republican lawmakers tried to change the organizational structure of the Metropolitan Council. Current law directs the governor to appoint all 17 members of the council, each representing a unique Met Council district. Republicans proposed that the council include one county commissioner from each of the metropolitan counties, one locally elected official appointed by a municipal committee of each of the 16 Met Council districts, two Hennepin County commissioners, the commissioner of transportation or a designee, and three members appointed by the commissioner to represent non-motorized transportation, freight transportation, and public transit. The governor would retain the ability to appoint the Met Council chair.