The Minnesota Senate kicked off the second week of the 2018 session on a light note – former Olympic hockey player Senator David Tomassoni rose on the Senate Floor Monday to congratulate fellow Chisholm native John Shuster and his USA Curling teammates on winning the United States’ first-ever Olympic gold medal in curling. The entire Senate chamber rose to a standing ovation in response to Sen. Tomassoni’s speech.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released a new forecast that projects a $329 million budget surplus for the current biennium. Less than 10 years ago, Minnesota faced a $6 billion budget deficit. The remarkable fiscal turnaround is due in large part to a prudent decision made by Governor Dayton and DFL lawmakers to raise income taxes by 2% on the richest 2% of Minnesotans in 2013.
State lawmakers are now tasked with determining what to do with the budget surplus. Options include passage of a supplemental budget, adding savings to the state’s rainy-day fund, financing a bonding bill, or leaving the money on the state’s bottom line. What we do know is that federal tax reform and ongoing dysfunction in a Republican-controlled Congress create a lot of uncertainty for state finances. Senate DFL Leader Tom Bakk urged Minnesotans to be cautious in reacting to the new budget figures, adding that state lawmakers should not “overcommit” and instead take prudent steps to ensure a structurally balanced budget.
Minnesota Management and Budget released the state’s February forecast this week. The forecast projected a positive balance of $329 million for the current biennium.
Minnesota is the second-best state in the country, according to the 2018 Best States study from US News and World Report.
Senator John Marty this week introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to change the process for filling a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor.
A bill was introduced this week to protect consumers in response to the 2017 Federal Communications Commission reversal of net neutrality.
DFL Legislators participated in a media availability this week to discuss the details of the proposed MinnesotaCare Buy-In with Governor Dayton. Legislators expressed support for the proposal that would expand enrollment eligibility for affordable health insurance coverage through MinnesotaCare.
Dozens of students and a handful of robots visited the Capitol this week for STEM Advocacy Day. Robotics teams from Minnesota met with legislators and showcased their robots and other current projects.
The University of Minnesota-Duluth Student Association traveled to the Capitol on Thursday, March 1 to participate in Bulldog Lobby Day.
Investing in our children and teachers has proven to be successful. The Minnesota Department of Education this week announced that in 2017, Minnesota students posted the highest rates graduation rates on record—82.7%.
The Joint Agriculture Rural Development and Housing Finance and Policy Committee heard from the Department of Agriculture about how low commodity prices are hurting agriculture.
A bill requiring Minnesota teachers renewing their teaching licenses to take training to understand dyslexia and identify and access professional services to address it in Minnesota students was heard in the Education Committee this week.
Legislation that allows school districts to include child sexual prevention instruction in health curriculum had its first hearing this week.
Legislation was heard this week to change the way Minnesota conducts background studies on children of daycare providers.
The Senate Judiciary Committee sent two controversial bills heard last year back to the Senate floor on a procedural motion this week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill this week that has been the focus on an investigative story in the Star Tribune.
Employing a seldom used rule, two gun safety bills had hearings this week in the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee, despite opposition from the Republican chair of the committee.
The Pension Commission met Tuesday evening to overview the 2018 Omnibus Pension Bill.
The Senate Veterans Committee met this week to hear presentations from some of the programs that have been established to help our state’s veterans.
Both the House Transportation Finance Committee and the Senate Transportation Policy and Finance Committee heard updates on the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) this week.
The Senate Transportation Policy and Finance Committee heard a bill this week that has the potential to adversely affect transit in the Metro area.