"What do I cut?"

The opioid stewardship bill made its last committee stop in the Senate this week, in the Senate Finance Committee. Unlike other committees, the Finance Committee does not take public testimony but focuses on the broader policy questions and fiscal issues at stake in a bill. It is made up of some of the most senior members. The bill, SF 730 is authored by the Chair of the Finance Committee, Sen. Julie Rosen. 

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Legislative fixes vs. Dayton’s Minnesota Care Buy in program

Last Session The legislature created two programs to tackle the problem of skyrocketing individual health insurance. The Premium Subsidy program gave people on the individual market a 25% rebate on their premiums.  The Premium Security program gave money directly to insurers to help buy down rates. Both of those programs are now ended as they were meant to provide temporary relief and stabilization of the health insurance market. As it turns out, not all of the money was spent so one of the very first items in the Governor’s supplemental budget this year is what to do with that money. The Premium subsidy money is going to a new program Dayton is proposing called the Minnesota Care Buy-in.  The buy-in program would cost $58.3 M in the 2020-2021 Biennium. 

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Public Pensions on the brink yet again

On Monday, the Senate passed the Pensions Bill on a unanimous roll call vote. Dayton has vetoed pension bills in the past because he thought they made retirees or workers’ pay too big a price (as opposed to the taxpayer, both state and local).  Republicans tried in vain to produce a bill that would hold the taxpayer harmless but clearly could not work with Dayton to produce anything like that. After non-action for several years, the unfunded liability was swelling, (about $17 Billion in total) the investment assumptions were way off (there was an 8% assumption when most other states’ pensions had reduced theirs to 7% or lower). 

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Paying the freight for public employees

house voting board

Today the House and Senate passed a major union contracts bill (with 10 different public-sector contracts). There are pay increases in these contracts, yet we are told that the agencies will eat the increases with existing money. That tells us something about the amount of money sloshing around in these agency budgets. 

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State's Unemployment Report Doesn't look so great below headlines

You may have missed it but on Thursday, the state's quarterly unemployment report came out. 

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Dayton Plays Hardball on MNLARS and Tax Conformity

Governor Dayton held a press conference on Tuesday after a breakfast with legislative leaders which covered a number of topics including MNLARS, his supplemental budget, and tax conformity.  (You can see the whole press conference here.) Dayton expressed impatience with the House coming up with its own plan for MNLARS after he had expressed his preference for the Senate plan.  He threatened to veto anything other than what he had agreed to with the Senate and hang the failure to fix MNSure on the Republican-led Legislature.

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MLARS: Resolved for now

Note: this post will be updated as developments happen.

 

Monday 3/19 was MNLARS day at the capitol, with different versions of a fix for the beleaguered licensing system passing out of the House and Senate.

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School Trust Lands: Getting More Bang for the Buck

On Monday morning, the Permanent School Trust Funds Commission met to go over what has been done over the last few years.

Refocusing the Permanent School Trust Fund is probably the most important work the legislature has done in the last five years that you’ve never heard of.

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Dayton's water policies run afoul of farmers

In both the House and the Senate, committees heard proposals that stem from Governor Dayton's "clean water initiative."  First announced last summer, the Governor is looking to make it one of his signature achievements, but farmers are pushing back on some of his proposals. 

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MNLARS Update

Look for something to happen on MNLARS, the beleaguered system for licensing and registration of vehicles next week. The House and the Senate will probably pass bills and the Governor has his own ideas.

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