Happenings at the Capitol
Last week the legislature returned from its Passover/Easter break and resumed work to complete a two-year state budget by the constitutional deadline of Monday, May 22. Legislative leaders appointed conference committees memberships to negotiate individual portions of the state budget, which must be in place by July 1, 2017 to avoid a government shutdown.
The purpose of conference committees is to rectify differences between House and Senate versions of bills. For each bill passed off the House and Senate floors, an equal number of members from each the House and Senate (typically 3 or 5 members from each body) meet to negotiate details of bill language. Once language is agreed upon, identical copies of each bill are sent back to each the House and Senate to be repassed. The bill receives a “yes” or “no” vote and cannot be amended. After identical copies of each bill are re-passed by each body, the bill is then sent to the Governor to either be signed into law or vetoed.
In a letter to legislative leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton stated that he will not accept cuts to state agencies from the legislature unless they stipulate exactly what programs they would defund. State commissioners and conference committee chairs will meet throughout the process in an effort to ensure an acceptable outcome is reached for all three sides of the negotiations.
The conference committee charged with finding common ground between the House biennial proposal of $1.31 billion in tax relief and the Senate’s $902.9 million met for the first time last week (HF4 / SF2255). Since a budget target for the committee has not yet been determined, the committee simply “walked through” the differences between the House and Senate versions and no action was taken on any provisions.
The committee will likely also keep in mind Gov. Mark Dayton’s $191 million for tax relief as well as other tax priorities promoted by the governor as work continues this week.
Several NMMA items are included in both the House and Senate tax bill versions and the NMMA legislative team will continue to monitor the conference committee actions to be sure NMMA provisions are acted upon favorably and included in the final tax bill.
The House bill also includes tax provisions linked to funding roads and bridges contained in the House Transportation Omnibus Bill.
The conference committee will also need to sort out LGA funding levels. Gov. Dayton recommends a $20 million increase for 2018, the Senate provides a one-time increase of $12 million for 2018 and the House does not provide for an increase. Click here for LGA comparison between the House, Senate and Gov. Dayton’s proposed LGA funding for 2018.
For a more in-depth review of the House and Senate Omnibus Tax Bills, you can find the side-by-side summary here and a summary comparison of the House, Senate and Governor’s tax proposals here. A side-by-side comparison of the bill language is not yet available, but when it is it will be found here.
The Omnibus Tax Bill conference committee members include:
Co-Chair Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston)
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa)
Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Lakeville)
Rep. Jerry Hertaus (R-Greenfield)
Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth)
Co-Chair Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes)
Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls)
Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona)
Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester)
Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope)
As NMMA members are painfully aware, lawmakers have been unable to pass a comprehensive transportation bill in recent years that would provide badly needed increases in road and bridge funding due to disagreement on how to provide that funding.
Last week the House/Senate Omnibus Transportation Conference Committee began work on reconciling the differences between the House and Senate Omnibus Transportation Funding Bills. Both the House and Senate versions propose to shift auto-related sales tax revenues on transportation-related items from the General Fund to boost spending on the state’s roads and bridges. They would also rely on borrowing to fund transportation projects across the state over the next two years.
The House bill calls for utilizing $1.3 billion in bonding over the next two years for state road construction and the Corridors of Commerce program. The Senate proposes $325.3 million in borrowing with $200 million to go toward Corridors of Commerce. The Senate includes earmarks for three specific projects: U.S. Highway 12, state Highway 14 and state Highway 212.
Both the House and Senate versions limit future funding of Metro Transit light-rail projects with the House cutting base funding to the Metropolitan Council for Metro Transit service. The House also proposes to end the state’s contributions to Metro Transit’s operations and maintenance budget.
House Omnibus Transportation Bill
- $6 billion in additional investments into transportation over the next 10 years by dedicating the revenue generated from the current sales tax on rental cars, leased vehicles and auto parts to transportation funding.
- Redirects the $10 motor vehicle registration and title fee from the Environmental Fund to roads and bridges.
- Authorizes $1.3 billion in trunk highway bonding for the Corridors of Commerce Program ($300 million annually) and state road and construction ($250 million annually) for the next four years.
- Authorizes the use of federal FAST Act funds.
- Uses MnDOT’s unreserved fund balances for state roads.
- Requires MnDOT to achieve 15% efficiencies for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.
- $2 billion in General Obligation bonds over the next 10 years for local roads and bridges as well as rail grade crossing improvements.
- No gas tax increase.
- Reduces transit funding to the Metropolitan Council.
- Requires CTIB to 100% fund operating costs for LRT.
- Prevents the Metropolitan Council or local unit of government from planning on a state share for capital costs for a light rail project.
- Prohibits local units of government from using their own funds to study or construct an LRT project without the approval of the legislature.
Senate Omnibus Transportation Bill
- $3.6 billion in additional transportation investments over the next 10 years by dedicating the revenue generated from the current sales tax on rental cars and leased vehicles.
- Dedicate 70% of the revenue from auto-parts sales tax revenue to transportation.
- Redirect state turn back funds to state roads and bridges.
- Authorize $325 million in trunk highway bonds allocating $200 million for the Corridors of Commerce Program while earmarking funds for US 12 (Hennepin), Highway 212 (Carver) and Highway 14 (between Owatonna and Dodge Center).
- Authorizes the use of federal FAST Act funds.
- No gas tax increase.
- Does not provide funding to the Metropolitan Council metro area bus service shortfall.
- Provides state’s 50% share of operating costs for any new LRT lines only if the state provides funding to help build the line.
The Omnibus Tranpsortation Funding Conference Committee includes:
Co-Chair Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska)
Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines)
Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca)
Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville)
Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville)
Co-Chair Sen. Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson)
Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault)
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake)
Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound)
Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin)
With most House and Senate committees having completed their work, both the House and the Senate will now focus their attention on passing individual policy bills off their respective floors while also allowing budget conference committees to work on ironing out differences between House, Senate and Gov. Dayton’s budget provisions. Be aware that House and Senate committee schedules are subject to change and additions with short notice. A full House/Senate schedule can be found here.
- 9:00 House/Senate Taxes Conference Committee (Watch Live)
- Same and similar non-monetary provisions will be discussed
- 10:15 House Ways and Means Committee (Watch Live)
- HF179 – (Scott): Ignition interlock performance standards amended, and use of devices with location tracking capabilities prohibited.
- SF1124 – (Lueck): Omnibus lands bill (will be amended with House language)
- HF1323 – (Vogel): Debt limit established.
- HF1265 – (Heintzeman): Environment and natural resources trust fund money appropriated, and requirements for receipt of fund money modified.
- 11:00 Senate Meets in Session (Watch Live)
- 1:30 House/Senate Conference Committee on Real ID (Watch Live)
- 3:00 Senate Capital Investment Committee
- Update from Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (HFA)
- S.F. 2159 (Senjem) Housing finance agency (HFA) housing infrastructure bond issue and appropriation.
- 3:30 House Meets in Session (Watch Live)
- 6:00 Legislative Water Commission
- 10:00 House/Senate Conference Committee on Public Safety Omnibus Bill
- 1:00 House/Senate Conference Committee on Env and Nat Resources Omnibus Bill
- 3:00 House/Senate Conference Committee on Transportation Finance
- Discuss and take some actions on same and similar policy provisions
- 5:30 Legislative Commission on Pensions
- 8:30 Senate Finance Committee
- 9:00 Select Committee on Tech and Responsive Government
- Introductions and an overview of MN.IT.
- 10:30 Senate Capital Investment Committee
- Overview of the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority
Thursday – TBD
Friday – TBD
Where to Find Legislative Information
Both the House and Senate websites contain useful information to help track legislation and stay in touch with your legislators. NMMA encourages its members to visit the House and Senate websites and sign up for legislative updates from your legislators.