Minnesota State Legislators return to St. Paul on April 18 with a significant number of issues to address during the closing five weeks of the 2017 session. Leaders in both the House and Senate established earlier committee deadlines to better manage larger pieces legislation before the session is scheduled to end and to avoid the potential for a special session. As a result, several bills with impacts to the agriculture sector could be taken up soon.
Talk to your legislators this week! State policymakers are making headway at the capitol on several significant issues. But before many of the major decisions are made, legislators will take a one-week break beginning April 10 to meet with local constituents and recharge.
The legislative Spring Break is the perfect time for Minnesota’s farmers to make their voices heard. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) urges members and others from rural Minnesota to contact state lawmakers and express their views about a few key issues that need to be resolved in the closing weeks of the 2017 legislative session.
In the days leading up to the Legislature’s annual Spring Break (April 7-16), several high-profile bills have either received approval and await Gov. Dayton’s action or are making the final turns in the legislative process before moving forward for the Governor’s approval.
Health Insurance Reform
Although Congress was unable to pass a health insurance reform package in March, the Minnesota Legislature did. Both the Senate and House passed the reinsurance plan that we have discussed in recent weeks,
Under the Minnesota Constitution, the State Legislature and Governor are responsible for developing a new state budget every two years. Budgets are crafted during odd numbered years, immediately following the previous year’s elections. The state’s fiscal budget year is July 1 – June 30, so the legislature and Governor have a real deadline, unless they are prepared to risk a government shutdown.
How well a state budget is developed and adopted depends in part on ideological differences between those who control the state’s House,
During the first few weeks of this year’s Legislative session, Republicans and Democrats worked quickly to pass a bipartisan bill to provide $326 million in premium relief to people who obtain their health insurance through the individual market exchange. When passing the bill, legislators and Gov. Dayton acknowledged that a more permanent solution was needed to avoid skyrocketing insurance premiums for 2018 and to ensure that insurance companies wouldn’t abandon the individual market. During March,
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), in response to comments yesterday from Governor Mark Dayton regarding water buffer proposals in the legislature, noted that Minnesota corn farmers across the state are on track toward implementing a variety of innovative measures to help protect water quality throughout farm country in Greater Minnesota.
Governor Dayton, in a recent letter to the association, thanked MCGA for its “excellent work” in showing how to “protect our land,
Earlier this session, both House and Senate leadership established committee deadlines that were earlier in the legislative calendar than those in past legislative sessions. The shorter deadlines mean that key policy legislation needs crisp action to adhere to leadership’s strict schedule. By last Friday, for example, all bills that have been introduced had to pass out of committees in their house of origin to remain viable. As a result, agriculture issues received a significant amount of attention during the week.
According to the Minnesota Management and Budget’s (MMB) February Forecast, which was issued on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the state is projected to have a slightly larger budget surplus than what was predicted back in November. As has been mentioned before, policymakers have been discussing a variety of ways to manage the budget surplus, now estimated at approximately $1.65 billion for the two-year budget cycle that begins July 1.
Tax relief measures are among the more popular proposals of how to allocate the surplus.
It is expected that state legislators will receive the most up-to-date state revenue and spending projections on Feb. 28 from the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) office. This report is often referred to as the February Forecast. According to MMB, “The February Forecast helps ensure these proposals remain on track and in balance,” and helps the Governor and the legislature to sculpt their final budget plans. The February Forecast will also be used to guide state tax policy for the next two years.
Legislative leadership recently established deadlines to move bills through the process during the 2017 session. These deadlines are earlier than recent legislative sessions. As a result, we should start to see increased action at the committee and floor level on legislation that could impact corn farmers.
Under the schedule approved by Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, all bills that have been introduced must be passed by the house of origin by Friday,