Quote of the Week: "I like long hearings, especially if I get to talk!” Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen.
“Big Picture” Issues
Anderson Retirement Shakes Up Senate
First term Senator Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth) announced last Friday that he would not seek reelection in November. The announcement took Senators and lobbyists by surprise, since Anderson had been raising funds at a frantic pace last Fall and in the weeks leading up to session beginning. Anderson, who previously served on the staff of former Governor Tim Pawlenty, won the election in 2016 by just 195 votes out of over 50,000 cast. Hilary Clinton won the district in 2016 by a 60-40 margin. In 2018, Anderson saw a DFLer beat his incumbent GOP State Representative, meaning Anderson now represents a Senate District with DFLers controlling the two State House seats. He was one of the two top DFL targets for defeat and was expected to face an uphill road in getting reelected. Ann Stewart, a civil engineer and small business owner, has been running for the DFL nomination since last summer. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and local Republicans are now scrambling to find a candidate to run in this now trending blue district. DFLers need a net gain of two seats to take the Senate majority.
Deadline Extension Expected
Legislative leaders are expected to push committee deadlines back a week to allow committees to process bills. Even though committees are already moving at a rapid pace and some are already holding night hearings, committee chairs have told their leadership that more time is needed if they are to complete their work. The House Rules and Legislative Administration on Tuesday approved a concurrent resolution that pushes back the first and second committee deadlines to March 20 and March 27. The third committee deadline stays at April 3. Another 336 bills were introduced in the House this week, for a total of 3,657 this biennial session, while in the Senate another 305 were introduced, for a total of 3,482 bills.
Budget Forecast Coming
On Thursday, Minnesota Management and Budget will release the February budget forecast. This is the budget projection that will guide the Governor and legislators through the remainder of the 2020 session. The November budget forecast said Minnesota had a $1.3 billion budget, which prompted Senate Republicans this week to call for tax cuts including reductions in the lowest tax rate, expanding deductions for businesses and completing eliminating taxes on Social Security income. DFLers predictably criticized the GOP plan, saying that when inflation is included in government spending the entire surplus would be nearly gone. But it’s an election year, so legislators in both parties are eager to pass out “goodies” to voters, either in the form of tax cuts or in the form of increased or new spending.
Lislegard, Davids and Halverson introduced: H. F. 3582, A bill for an act relating to health; specifying when a health care provider must furnish requested medical records; amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 144.292, subdivisions 2, 5. The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services Policy.