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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Expensive Incompetance

Mark Dayton leaves Minnesota with unsustainable spending levels, higher levels of debt, poor transparency and accountability of public agencies and more kicking the can down the road of some of the state’s biggest structural economic and fiscal challenges.  But hey congratulations, taxpayer! You’ve paid such high taxes so that there is a budget surplus at least for the next few years!

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Update on Opioid Stewardship Bill HF 1140 (Baker)/SF 730 (Rosen)


Updated 4/10/2018

There was some movement of this bill in the House today. It was added to a crowded schedule of bills on the HHS Finance Committee Calendar, together with an amendment and a statement from PHARMA, the industry lobbying group.  The Amendment would have added the tax that was removed in an earlier version of the bill plus added an additional tax plus a registration fee increase.  The Senate version of the bill is ready to be heard on the Senate floor has the same structure.  The bill was deferred at the last minute for another day.  

We continue to oppose this tax which will increase the cost of a drug used by sick and injured people to pay for abuse of the drugs by others.  Ultimately taxpayers will also pay as they are covering a huge share of increased medical costs now.  We also think that a determination of culpability (as both Senate and House authors have passionately argued is their motive) is best determined by a court of law, not by a tax. 


Updated 3/16/2018

There have been some further developments on the "Opioid Stewardship" bill in the Minnesota House and Senate. The bills upon introduction both included taxes on opioid drugs.  Both the House and Senate versions were heard in Committee again and amended on Thursday.  On Friday, the Governor's supplemental budget proposal also included an Opioid Stewardship fund and spending. 

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Ways and Means bites into Tax Conformity and Pensions

The Ways and Means Committee took a first look at Tax Conformity and Pensions as well as heard the MNLARS fix bill this week.

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How will the legislature fund new initiatives on school safety?

Whenever there is a high-profile event, not even necessarily in Minnesota, there are ripples felt at the state capitol. The Parkland FL High School shooting was one of those kinds of events. High School Students are protesting at the capitol in large numbers, in at least one case bussed in by their school district.

The students are part of national effort to change gun laws, but Governor Dayton has already conceded that there is unlikely to be any movement on that front this session given the strength of support for the 2nd Amendment in the Republican controlled house and senate.

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The Legislative Budget Office is closer to being a reality

Last year the Legislature passed, and the governor signed into law a bill which created a Legislative Budget Office. It was maligned by some conservatives and notably got a negative rating from the Legislative Evaluation Assembly. We differed with those views and found the LBO concept very promising. This week's hearing in the State Government Finance committee was a reminder of why.

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Met Council Governance Reform Rides Again

Senators braved a blizzard on Tuesday, March 6 to hear a proposal similar to one that didn’t make the cut in last session’s Government reform bills.  The proposal, contained in SF 2809 (Pratt) was to create a new structure for the Met Council


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Why education funding is so expensive

A great example was on display today's House Government Operations Committee of why it's so hard to cut costs in Education. This committee heard a bill creating a workgroup examining special education funding. The bill is  HF 2846 Christiansen.

Let's say that again. The bill would create A WORKGROUP to TALK about finding cost savings in special education funding and present a report to the legislature of its findings.  


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When the state sues a corporation, where does the money go? 

The Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee covered a lot of ground today but one key component was the time spent hearing from the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency about 3 M settlement.

The presentation was pretty straightforward. 3M agreed to a settlement with the Attorney General to pay the state of MN $850M to clean up PFCs (a manufacturing component of its famous Scotchgard and Teflon products) which have gotten into the water over time since they were first developed in the 1940s.

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Taxpayers League Letter on HF 1440 (Baker) SF 730 (Rosen)

This week Taxpayers League President Ted Lillie sent a letter out to members of the House Health and Human Policy Committee opposing the "penny a pill" tax on opioids.  The tax would fund a council which would in turn fund grants across Minnesota, with the idea of stemming the tide of prescription opioid addiction.  Everybody agrees it's a problem as it has been in many states. What to do about it, is not as clear. Testimony was heard in the House committee on Thursday 3/1.  Some good and useful initiatives were mentioned like funding Narcan kits for police officers, so that overdosing addicts lives can be saved and successful rehabilitation programs.   But the bill in its present form (See link below) is very loosely constructed on the spending side and it's easy to see how a large sum of money could attract projects that are less likely to directly ameliorate the problem. The bill was laid over while the author(s) continue to work on it. 

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