The Minnesota legislature made significant progress over the weekend to avoid the government’s shutdown on July 1.
Legislator An agreement on new police reform was announced late on Saturday. This issue can easily become the biggest issue in the five-month regular legislative session.
They also sent a $16.5 billion health and public service budget and a $21 billion public school spending plan to Governor Tim Walz. Nevertheless, only half of the 14 state budget bills have been completed and submitted to the governor.
More than a month after the end of the regular legislative session in 2021, progress has been slow. The legislature now often needs to work overtime to complete its work.
Legislators stated that they have agreed on the basic content of the $52 billion budget. An agreement on public safety reforms left only a few differences between the Republicans who control the Senate and the Democratic Peasant Labor Party, which leads the House of Representatives.
The biggest remaining question is how to end the state of emergency of Governor Tim Waltz that has existed since the beginning of the coronavirus in March 2020. Walz hopes to end the state of emergency on August 1, but Republicans demand an immediate stop.
The Republican-led Senate included the termination of emergency powers in the state appropriations bill approved on Friday. It is almost certain that the House controlled by DFL will remove it later.
This fight took place after the Democratic Party acquiesced to the many police reforms they sought after the murder of George Floyd and Daunte Wright by the police. DFLers had hoped to limit police interception of minor violations, prohibit police from joining white supremacist groups, and demand that arrest warrants be “signed and released” to deal with matters such as missed court dates.
The public safety agreement does include new regulations on no-knocking orders, new uses for mental health crisis teams, changes in civil forfeiture, and the speed of release of body camera footage.
It also includes the Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives and the Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force.
Another resolved dispute concerns the reinsurance plan, which protects health insurance companies from the high costs of seriously ill patients. Minnesota will spend $188 million in the fifth year of the program, but some of the funds are previously unused funds.
Republicans insisted on continuing their efforts because they said it would lower interest rates in the personal insurance market. Democrats oppose it as a gift to insurance business.
Continuing reinsurance is included in the health and human services budget of $16.5 billion. This is the second largest part of the state’s biennial spending plan. Public education is the largest, at 21 billion U.S. dollars.
This year’s education bill includes more than $1 billion in new funding for the next two years. The general funding formula is US$457 million, as well as a new fund for the recruitment of teachers of color and regional special education expenses.
Legislators must finish their work before midnight on Wednesday. If they do not, some state governments may be forced to shut down.