On the last day of session, Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN), House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) were all smiles at the press conference when they announced their Budget Agreement. Now as the first deadline occurs, it looks like not all of the committees will meet their obligation to have the fiscal part of their bills complete and may need to make a trip to the principal’s office or better yet the woodshed in order to get their work done. We understand the State Government Finance Bill and the Public Safety Bill are in this particular position.
We believe there are many reasons for the average legislator to be mad, and that is because they will not be called upon in the Working Groups to vote on the final Conference Committee reports. Right now, in addition tot decisions being made between leadership the Governor’s office and the Committee Chairs, the lack of public hearings and violation of the Open Meeting Law, which legislative committees have to adhere to but Working Groups, being informal, do not.
Now some pundits poorly speculate the overall leverage is in the hands of the state Senate, but truthfully it is not. Yes, there are far many more policy positions that the House has than does the Senate, but ultimately if the two sides go to loggerheads, then the Senate loses out on any opportunity to play a role in directing any of the Federal dollars, but it is a question if Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) can universally direct spending without empowering legislative language. To this we say its always better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, spend away Governor.
Now, the policy positions are not limited to just the Republican opposition regarding police reform and public safety, clean car regulations, the rental assistance roll-out and expanded unemployment benefits. Rather, the list should include electronic pull tabs, the education savings plan, which Hortman refers to as a backdoor voucher system, forfeiture reform, chronic wasting disease, and fur trapping to name additional items and we recognize even more exist.
There also is a cathartic component that will need to occur with members who are wedded to some specific pieces of legislation. They will need to become reconciled with and this is the grieving process will ensue when they fail to prevail. So, the advocates will need to experience all of the stages of Grief including: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The time it will take for this to occur will be a determining factor in how long before the Special Session ends.
Because there is a universality of the Triumvirate (Governor, Speaker and Majority Leader) and their acceptance of all policy positions effectively giving anyone person veto authority, and in spite of two parts having common cause, Governor and the House Speaker, they can do little to roll the Majority Leader.
It is clear, one part of the Republican strategy is to push things into 2022, through legislative agreement and then be addressed in the election year. This includes the federal funds, which could be significantly less, if the Governor is afforded unilateral spending authority.
So as we watch everything play out in phone calls and zoom meetings, we are not invited to, we will have our own challenges for gaining knowledge, but this by no means will me we lack understanding of what’s going on. Stay tuned.