Legislative Update: January 11, 2019

Senate Republicans and House Democrats highlight session priorities

Lawmakers introduced 122 new bills the first week of the 2019 legislative session. The House Democrats and Senate Republicans both held press conferences this week highlighting their top priorities. In the House, Democrats described the first ten bills as the “Minnesota Values Agenda.” Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said, “Our work will focus on improving economic prosperity for all families across the state.”

The ten bills include The Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act, which will invest in early child development. There is a bill that provides for K-12 student support, as well as a bill that provides for more affordable health care. Another priority includes preventing prescription drug price gouging, and a bill was introduced regarding the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. Another top ten priority for the House Democrats includes rural broadband expansion, as well as wage theft prevention and enforcement. There are two bills introduced in the first ten that address gun safety, and another bill that addresses protecting Minnesotans from sexual harassment.

The Senate Republicans also detailed this week the Senate’s first five bills, which they believe are also the most pressing issues facing Minnesota. Their top five bills/priorities include an investment in mental health. This includes funding for mental health counseling for farmers through Minnesota State’s farm business management program. Another priority for the Senate is child care reform, and making affordable and accessible child care options available.

One of the Senate Republicans’ top five priorities includes healthcare cost reduction. This includes lowering health insurance premiums and making health care billing more transparent. The Senate also said they would like to hold government more accountable, and they introduced a bill that would allow for conforming to the new federal tax laws.

You may find a complete list of new bill introductions HERE. Throughout session we will include a link at the bottom of every update under “Important Links” with an updated bill tracking document.

Committee hearings pick up next week

Committees did not meet this week, but plan to get started next week (see the below schedule). The Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy committee is scheduled to hear from Minnesota State about their budget request Tuesday, January 15 at 1:00 p.m.

Minnesota State is asking lawmakers to fund a $246 million budget request. This includes $169 million to fund the campus inflationary costs at three percent. The investment will support the financial health of every campus, protect access and affordability, improve student success, reduce economic and racial disparities and help meet Minnesota’s critical need for talent.

The other components of Minnesota State’s budget request includes $37 million for critical technology replacement of the twenty-year-old outdated ISRS data system. Across the state, the system processes more than 100,000 financial transactions each business day, as well as more than one million student logins that take place at the start of each semester. The system’s technology infrastructure is used daily by 400,000 people, including faculty, staff, and students.

In order to strengthen access through tuition strategies and address the workforce opportunity gap, the remaining request includes $25 million for two new grant programs for students to help them advance and succeed. There is also $15 million in Minnesota State’s budget request to address the workforce gap through innovative career, technical, and professional programming serving business and industry. Funding will help strengthen and expand the K-12 career and technical pipeline and grow K-12 collaborative programming, and develop new teacher education pathways in career technical education in support of K-12 and higher education programming.

Also on Tuesday following the Senate at 2:30 p.m., Minnesota State will be presenting to the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Division the system’s vision, mission and goals. This presentation will be more informational about the Minnesota State system.

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