Week Fifteen: April 21, 2017

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  • Big differences remain between the Senate, House, and Governor’s budget proposals that will affect the next two years. Conference committees will need plenty of time with their budget targets to come to agreements.

    With just over four weeks left of the 2017 Legislative Session, DFLers are holding Republicans accountable to their April 28 deadline for joint conference committee targets. These targets will help conference committees (joint meetings between the House and Senate who hash out details of major budget bills) do the important work of negotiating a bill. With many past sessions ending chaotically, legislators have recent memory to teach them how to do things differently this time around.

    In terms of floor sessions, the week started off slowly, but picked up steam by Thursday. Protesters filled the halls of the Capitol, leading chants against the preemption bill. On Thursday, the Senate debated the Uniform State Labor Standards Act, also known as the preemption bill, which strips power away from local units of government. Floor speeches grew heated, with the Senate DFL arguing passionately against the bill.

    One of the key arguments against the bill is that it is the state legislature’s job to set minimum standards, not maximum standards. DFLers believe the state shouldn’t be restricting the authority of local governments to implement what’s best for their communities.

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    One Size Does Not Fit All

    One size doesn’t fit all
    The preemption bill passed the Senate floor this week, despite the objections of many Senate DFLers. The legislation will strip away the power of local governments to pass labor benefit policies such as earned sick time and higher minimum wages. This bill would also retroactively prohibit the enactment of compensation benefits the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have recently implemented.

    Budget negotiations begin with Dayton weighing in
    Since 2011, Senate DFLers have worked hard to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota.

    Minnesota Zoo Day at the Capitol
    Owls, snakes, volunteers, and staff from the Minnesota Zoo visited the Capitol this week to share information on the statewide impact of the zoo, which is home to more than 5,300 animals and supports 1,700 jobs.

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    Some Minnesotans may be in line for another tax refund this year
    Tuesday marked the last day to file or apply for an extension on state and federal income taxes. The date was three days later than the typical April 15 deadline due to Monday’s holiday in Washington, D.C.

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    Teacher licensure bill advances in Senate, concerns about teacher quality raised
    A bill to revamp the state’s Board of Teaching and create a tiered educator licensing system was debated and passed by the state Senate on April 20. The Senate language was included in the E-12 education finance bill that passed in late March and will replace the House licensure language on House File 140.

    Students need better investment to afford college
    Three competing proposals under discussion at the legislature would dramatically affect college affordability for students across Minnesota.

    CLICK HERE to see how the Governor’s proposed investments in the State Grant Program would benefit students in your communities.

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    Omnibus Legacy Bill sent to the floor, includes controversial funding for buffers
    The Senate Finance Committee heard and approved the Omnibus Legacy Bill Thursday and forwarded it to the Senate floor.

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    Preventing wage theft
    A wage theft prevention initiative that was included as part of Governor Dayton’s budget recommendations was heard in committee this week.

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    Proposal to restrict autonomy of state auditor moves forward
    A bill was heard in the Senate Finance Committee this week to repeal the State Auditor Enterprise Fund, which is used by Auditor Rebecca Otto to charge counties for state audits.