Issues got jammed in the legislature as lawmakers split on the details of each issue or dealt with provisions that reduced support in the opposite chamber. Each was highlighted earlier in the legislature as a measure that could be broken up before a state budget and passed early this spring.
Meanwhile, Minnesotans who pressed for swift action on these proposals remained unanswered. But lawmakers said they would be ready to address this (and many more) issues once they return on April 6th.
“We’ll come back and run to the finish line,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said Thursday.
As the legislature will take a break for the next 10 days, here’s what happened in the legislature this week.
Summer school, tax break financing on the fence
The Minnesota House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 23, tabled a $ 107 million plan to fund summer school programming for all students after months of distance learning for many learners. In a vote between 69 and 63, the chamber led by the DFL pushed through the bill and called on the Senate, which is controlled by the GOP, to take it up quickly.
In order to prepare schools to offer the learning options to preschoolers and K-12 students, Governor Tim Walz said on Thursday that lawmakers must forward the measure to his desk by April 15. The senators took up parts of the plan but had not voted it through in its entirety.
“I urge the Minnesota Senate to stop work and act quickly so we can ensure that our students are not left behind,” the DFL governor said in a press release.
Senate leaders said they were open to a shift in funds but hoped to tie them to a tax break package. The Senate put forward its plan earlier this month to waive state income taxes for companies that have used federal COVID-19 grants to keep workers on their payroll and Minnesotans who have taken out unemployment insurance and are now state Taxes on this income must be paid to relieve some of the burden.
But House Democrats said they wanted to pass tax breaks in a broader tax bill due to be unveiled in April.
Without a side willing to move, both tax breaks and funding for summer schools could get stuck in legislation. This raised stakeholder concerns as the Minnesota tax filing and school planning deadlines were met or exceeded.
“These are real lives, and these lives are influenced by the decisions that are made or delayed in the legislature,” Kurt Daudt, chairman of the House Minority, R-Crown, told reporters during a virtual press conference in which he spoke a vote on tax compliance pushed Haus.
Security funds expire days before the high profile trial
House Speaker Melissa Hortman prepares to open the seventh special session of the year on December 14, 2020. (Christine T. Nguyen / MPR News)
RELATED: Minnesota spokesman says there is no realistic way to fund trial safety
While House Democrats earmarked $ 35 million in emergency police funding under their $ 52.5 billion budget this week, House spokeswoman Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, said Tuesday that Negotiations about a plan had stalled.
Republicans are no longer interested in discussing the plan to provide government funds for unexpected law enforcement costs, as government assistance can help fill budget gaps in Minneapolis when auxiliary police are needed and mutual assistance agreements have already been made.
Law enforcement officials and Walz urged lawmakers earlier this year to mobilize law enforcement agencies to assist Minneapolis in the event that looting or riot related to the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer broke out. In the house, the plan didn’t have enough support to see it go. And two funding mechanisms were bipartisan approved in the Senate, but they contained provisions that Democrats said would fuel the plans in-house.
In a dead end, Hortman said there was “no realistic way” for the sovereign wealth fund. But Republicans said they were ready to put a Senate bill through the House or discuss a compromise.
The clashes in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin are due to begin on Monday, March 29, in Minneapolis. The state and local police agreed to protect those involved in the process as well as peaceful demonstrators. They also warned against persecuting anyone who tried to break the peace in Minnesota.
“We are ready to respond and are committed to ensuring that bad things don’t happen,” said Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington on Monday March 22nd.
Walz is leaving quarantine and preparing for the next phases
Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm emerged from a 10-day quarantine on Thursday March 25th after potentially exposure to COVID-19 at a press conference. According to a spokesman, the trio tested negative for the disease.
RELATED: Walz, Flanagan Quarantined After Employees Test Positive For COVID-19
After a week-long postponement, the governor was due to travel to Mankato on Sunday March 28 to deliver his third State of the State address from his former social studies classroom. A year after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Minnesota and the governor issued a stay at home order, Walz was asked to outline the next stages of vaccine access and the state’s next steps to combat the disease.
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