Podcast #1: 2015 Session Opens

What happened in the first week of session?  Not too much but don't worry, it's just getting started.

 Download Podcast #1

 

Show notes:

It’s back to school for legislators!

 

This past week was the opening gavel for the 2015 legislature with Tuesday’s ceremonial opening and Thursday’s first session and the introduction of bills

 

By the Numbers:

 

The Senate

Total: 67

 Republicans: 28

DFL: 39 

Ind: 0

Margin: 11

The House

Total: 134

 Republicans: 72 

DFL: 62 

Ind: 0

Margin:10

 

(A simple majority is needed to pass a bill, a 2/3 majority for a bonding bill.)

 

Important Dates:

 

1/6/2015—First day of session

1st deadline - ?
2nd deadline - ?
3rd deadline -?

Deadlines will be voted on in a resolution probably next week.

Easter Break generally falls week before Easter, which this year is April 5.

TBD—Last Day of Session.  The state constitution limits the Legislature to meeting 120 legislative days during each biennium. In addition, the Legislature may not meet in regular session after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year. 

 

They may meet as long as possible this year and not meet next year at all!

 

Explanation of Deadlines  (Joint Rule 2.03, Deadlines) 

There is no yearly deadline for the introduction of bills. However, each year the Legislature establishes deadlines for committee action on bills. Committee deadlines are announced during the first half of a session in order to winnow the list of topics to be dealt with that year.

 

"The deadlines do not apply to the House committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration, nor to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Administration."

 

"The first deadline is for committees to act favorably on bills in the house of origin."

"The second deadline is for committees to act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other house."

 

"The third deadline is for committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills."

 

 Helpful Links:

 

This week: action in the Rules Committee

Among the 23 housekeeping rules that were passed (unanimously) House members voted to increase their housing allowance (by $200 a month)  and set a budget for postage.  From the Session Daily:

The most significant departure from previous rules was found in resolution2015-R3, which authorizes reimbursements for living expenses to House members whose home is more than 50 miles from the Capitol. It raised the reimbursement for housing expenses by $200 monthly in order to offset the rising costs of lodging in the area.

“What we have found is that the most popular places for members to stay in, have increased their rates for the last few years,” said House Controller Jim Reinholdz. “We are looking to increase this so members’ expenses are covered and they aren’t forced to pay for some of their lodging out of their pocket.”

Qualifying members will now receive $1,500 per month for lodging expenses and their total reimbursement for that expense may not exceed $27,000 during the biennium.

Resolutions were also adopted that capped lawmakers’ postage allotment for the biennium ($2,112 in 2015 and $1,056 in 2016), the compensation and honorarium received by the House Chaplain ($35 per legislative day, $2,000 per year) and the starting budgets for House committees and the Minority Caucus ($2,000 each). Those budgets serve as the starting point for expenditures and will be adjusted going forward, Reinholdz said.

The committee determines the policies and procedures that govern the House and has the power to determine the circumstances under which each bill reaches the floor and is debated.

 

Next Week:

The House will be going through introductions.  All of the committees and committee chairs are new and there are a lot of new members.  They will hear from non partisan staff who will explain the committees jurisdictions.  

Senate Committees will reassemble and hear testimony from various agencies. New Secretary of State Steve Simon will present testimony on Thursday in the Senate Elections subcommittee.