EDITOR’S NOTE: AS THE END OF SESSION APPROACHES
The Minnesota legislative session will end on May 20. Our next Capitol Letter™ will be published during the last week of May to accommodate the end of session and our bi-annual LWV Minnesota Convention.
As you will see from our reports, some bills are now in “conference committee.”
A bill is sent to conference committee when the House and Senate do not agree on bill language. The committee reaches a compromise that must be accepted by both bodies. As explained by the legislative webpage, “once a conference committee makes its recommendation, the bill cannot be amended by either the House or the Senate. The only alternative is to accept the conference committee report or send it back to the conference committee for further work.”
LWV US Position on Voting: Voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed.
LWV US Position on Election Laws: The direct-popular-vote method for electing the President and Vice-President is essential to representative government. The League of Women Voters believes, therefore, that the Electoral College should be abolished. We support the use of the National Popular Vote Compact as one acceptable way to achieve the goal of the direct popular vote for election of the president until the abolition of the Electoral College is accomplished. (Revised 2010)
LWV Minnesota Position on Election Laws: Support improvements in election laws regulating election procedures, voting and school district elections.
Sherri Knuth, Policy and Outreach Manager
As of the date this report is being written, the House omnibus election bill (HF 894 authored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-Hopkins)), is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on Wednesday, May 8. HF 799 (see description below) will also be heard on the floor.
NEW Companion bills HF 799 and SF 585 Agreement to Elect President by National Popular Vote. Rep. Simon and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) These are stand-alone bills through which Minnesota would sign on to an agreement among the states to elect the president by national popular vote rather than through the electoral college. Language adopting this agreement is also part of the House omnibus election bill in Article 7. By all reports, the agreement to elect the president by national popular vote is controversial among legislators of both major parties. Although HF 799 has moved forward in the House, SF 585 has not been heard in committee in the Senate and is not floor-ready.
The Senate omnibus election bill (SF 677, authored by Rep. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport)) was heard was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on April 30 and, with little discussion, passed on a partisan roll-call vote. All Republicans voted against the bill. As of this writing, it has not been scheduled for a floor vote.
We reported on details of the Senate and House omnibus election bills in the March 6 and March 21 issues of the Capitol Letter™. Although many of the provisions are similar, the House bill does not include early voting or a section to move the primary election to June, as the Senate version does.The Senate version does not include the national popular vote for the president, as the House version does.
STATE GOVERNMENT FINANCE
LWV Minnesota Position: Support a balanced and diversified revenue system that is equitable, progressive, and reliable. Support of long-term financial management projections and a budget reserve. (1995)
LWV Minnesota Position on Government Spending: The highest priority areas for state spending are the following: (1) K-12 (regular) education; (2) Health Care: (3) Environmental protection....
Criteria for Limiting Spending… (1) State subsidies for sports teams, convention centers and similar projects should be among the first items to be curtailed….
Jeanne LeFevre, Volunteer Lobbyist
Companion bills HF 677 and SF 552 Omnibus tax bills. Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington) and Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL- Clearbrook). The House omnibus tax bill (reported in April 24 Capitol Letter™) was passed by the House on April 24 and sent to the Senate where SF 552 was substituted. On April 29, the Senate took up the tax bill and defeated it on a 34-32 vote. After a DFL caucus, the Senate returned to reconsider their vote and passed the bill by a 35-31 margin.
A conference committee was appointed on May 1. Conferees for the House include Rep. Lenczewski, Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township), Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), and Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester). Senate conferees include Sen. Skoe, Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis), Sen. Lyle Koenen (DFL-Maynard), and Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester).
There are major differences between the House and Senate tax bills, and neither of them is the same as the governor’s proposal, so there is plenty of work ahead for the conference committee.
Some of the principal differences include:
- The Senate bill proposes a larger permanent increase to the top tax bracket (from 7.85% in current law to 9.4%) to apply to a wider group of taxpayers (taxable income over $80,000 for individuals and over $141,000 for couples). However, the Senate bill makes no provision for a temporary income tax surcharge as does the House.
- The Senate would increase cigarette taxes but not alcohol taxes. The House bill raises both.
- The Senate would apply the sales tax to clothing and certain personal services. The House does not.
There are also similarities in the House and Senate bills. For instance, both seek to provide authority and funding to the City of Rochester for a destination medical center, and both use the concept of “affiliate nexus” to require more internet sellers to collect sales tax on purchases by Minnesota residents. Both the House and Senate would also tax sports memorabilia – the Senate at a 13% rate and the House at 10%.
LWV US Position: Methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office, and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process (Revised 1982).
LWV Minnesota Position: Support improvements in election laws regulating campaign practices.
Joan Sullivan, Volunteer Lobbyist
Increased Funding for Campaign Finance Board (CFB)
SF 1589 Omnibus State Government Finance and Veteran Affairs Bill. Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) and Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown) This Omnibus bill funds the CFB at a little more than $1 million in the Senate, and exactly $1 million in the House. Details of this bill were reported in the April 24 Capitol Letter™. This bill is now in conference committee, which will determine the exact amount of the appropriation. Increased funding for the CFB is a LWV Minnesota priority this session.
Companion bill HF 136 and SF 1397 Campaign Finance: public official definition expanded to include Judges and County Commissioners. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) (Support) Details about this bill are reported in the April 24 Capitol Letter™. The House version is ready for a floor vote. The Senate version was referred to the Rules and Administration Committee in March and has not had a hearing (which presumably would have occurred in the Elections Subcommittee).
Companion bill HF 863 and SF 661 Campaign Finance law modifications. Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) (Support)
See the April 24th Capitol Letter™ for more details. The House Ways and Means Committee heard and passed HF 863 on Monday, May 6. The Senate version was heard and passed the Finance Committee, also on May 6. Both bills appear to be headed for the floor.
The House and Senate versions differ with respect to broadening disclosure of independent expenditures. Both bills as introduced (1) broadened the definition of “express advocacy” (see discussion in April 24 Capitol Letter™) and (2) created a new category of “electioneering communications” subject to disclosure within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election. These provisions, however, were removed in HF 863 when it was heard in the State Departments and Veterans Affairs Committee. It remains to be seen how these differences will be reconciled.
Note: The New York Timesis reporting that the Securities and Exchange Commission may soon make publicly traded corporations reveal their political contributions, and business groups are preparing a counterattack. The SEC's ruling is expected to be announced this week.
LWV US Position: The League of Women Voters believes that the federal government shares with other levels of government the responsibility to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12. A quality public education is essential for a strong, viable and sustainable democratic society and is a civil right.
LWV Minnesota Position: All Minnesota children should have equal access to a good public education. State funding for education should be at a level that makes programs of comparable substance and quality available to all. A student’s access to a good education should not depend on the wealth of his or her school district.
Lonni Skrentner, Volunteer Lobbyist
The haggling continues over the omnibus education bills. Education advocates are lobbying hard for a conference report that favors the House spending targets, which according to the Minnesota School Boards Association, Association of Metropolitan School Districts and other advocates comes close to meeting recent inflation (though not the historic accumulation). Another large part of the problem rests with the argument over pending tax bills. Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) has drawn some interesting lines in the sand, rejecting most ideas about increases in sales taxes, and Sen. Majority Leader Thomas Bakk (DFL-Cook) is pushing back. The House has passed a nearly $2.6 billion revenue-raising plan. There will have to be some kind of grand bargain between the two chambers and the governor before the E-12 work can be completed.
Companion bills SF 978 and HF 1151 Omnibus education policy bill. Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis) and Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-Minneapolis) SF 978 increases reimbursement for reduced price school lunch, increases drop out age from 16 to 17, requires mental illness training for teachers and inclusion in health curriculums, increases the safe school levy and allows more flexibility for use of the dollars, provides additional money to recovery programs, allows compensatory revenue to be used for early education and parental outreach, and aligns statewide assessments with standards and college readiness while doing away with the high stakes GRAD test.
HF 1151 includes provisions from Minnesota Department of Education requests. The House bill has many of the provisions of the Senate bill, but also repeals the law requiring school start post-Labor Day, repurposes the use of integration revenue, restores limited English proficiency funds to 7 years, and sunsets the requirement for teacher candidates to take the basic skills exam before licensure. The House passed the omnibus bill which includes $15.7 billion in state aid over the next two years.
Differences and similarities between the two chambers’ bills:
- Both support funding full-day kindergarten for all children starting in FY 2015.
- Both fund early learning scholarships so high-needs children ages three to five can attend high-quality child care and early childhood programs. The Senate follows the governor’s recommendation to increase funding for these scholarships by $44 million for the biennium, while the House increases funding by $50 million.
- The House provides additional funding for Head Start to offset funding due to federal sequestration
- Both provide funding for the Minnesota Math Corps to help fourth to eighth grade students meet state standards. The Senate also increases funding for the Minnesota Reading Corps.
- The House funds Regional Centers of Excellence to help schools erase academic achievement gaps and reach 100 percent high school graduation rates by 2027.
- Even though the governor recommended a $127 million increase for special education, the House provides no additional funding, and the Senate provides only a small increase.
There are two other notable proposals. According to Minnesota Budget Bites, the Senate E-12 education omnibus bill includes $150 million to reduce school property taxes, and the House fully repays the school funding shift in FY 2014.
Contentious issues lie within the differences facing the conference committee. Many districts are concerned about integration levy money. It appears to be on track for renewal; it passed in the House Omnibus Bill and is covered in the Senate in the tax bill.
For a full side by side comparison of the two chambers in the K-12 conference negotiations see the summary drafted by House Research and Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis. Just remember that it does NOT include the governor’s proposals!
For detail on educational issues, two good sources are Schools for Equity in Education (SEE) and Parents United. If you are interested in comparing the tax bills, SEE recommends the Brick City blog.
LWV US Position: Natural resources should be managed as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems. Resources should be conserved and protected to assure their future availability. Pollution of these resources should be controlled in order to preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the ecosystem and to protect public health.
LWV Minnesota Positions: See Program for Action, pp. 7-10
Gwen Myers, Volunteer Lobbyist
Money for Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve, first described in the Feb. 22 Capitol Letter™, is now part of the House Bonding Bill, HF 270, sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the Capitol Investment Committee. While there is $22 million in the House bonding bill for RIM, and it is ready for floor action, bonding prospects in the Senate are not promising. Capital Investment Committee chair Sen. LeRoy Stumpf is carrying HF 270’s companion, SF 1293, but it is languishing in the Finance Committee.
There is another $14 million for RIM in the Legacy bill, HF 1183, sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn (D-Minneapolis), as noted in the April 24 Capitol Letter™. However, according to Outdoor News, there has been much teeth-gnashing among conservation and environmental groups centered on this bill due to Rep. Kahn’s treatment of the Outdoor Heritage and Clean Water Funds, e.g., reducing the funding for addressing non-point source pollution (think agricultural run-off), a major goal of environmental organizations this session. The bill was scheduled for the floor April 20, but was withdrawn and has not been rescheduled.
Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul) is carrying its companion, SF 1051, and the hope is to get the RIM language inserted into that bill.
Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance and Policy Bill
A conference committee has been appointed to deal with the differences between HF 976 and SF 1170: Representatives Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis), David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), and Andrew Falk (DFL-Murdock); Senators David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), James Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake).
LWV Minnesota has signed a letter to this conference committee making three requests:
- Support the House provision increasing water fees due to the concern over declining groundwater tables, falling lake levels and frequent drought conditions. These fee adjustments will more closely cover the actual cost to monitor and manage our increasingly valuable freshwater supplies.
- Support the House provision that increases funding for the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), which was established to deal with complex problems important to multiple state agencies. Its capacity has been reduced over the years due to inflation and funding cuts, but its mission is critical.
- Oppose the provision in both bills which expands the definition of “scram mining” to include taconite mining, the most prevalent type of iron mining in the state. Scram mining is defined in administrative rules and is excluded from environmental review. We oppose this special exemption from a fundamental public process.
->Action: If your legislator is on this conference committee, please call or write and urge his/her support or opposition, as noted above.
The strong Senate bill, SF 786, authored by Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Redwing), was first described in the March 6 Capitol Letter™ and updated in the April 24 Capitol Letter™. It has morphed into SF 796, the Omnibus Game and Fish bill, and the last two weeks have been eventful.
Sen. Schmit worked with Minnesota Trout Unlimited (TU) on language in SF 786 protecting southeast Minnesota trout streams from frac sand mining and processing. These provisions, outlined in the April 24 Capitol Letter™, were approved in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, and then the fun began.
As SF 796, the bill was heard in Sen. Tomassoni’s Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Division, a committee designed to look at the bill’s financing provisions, not its policy provisions. However, Sen. Tomassoni, fearing that this language, focused on SE Minnesota, might someday be applied to the Iron Range, joined with Sen. Saxhaug and the Republicans on his committee to remove the TU provisions.
Because Sen. Tomassoni decided to get into policy, Sen. Cohen, chair of the full Finance Committee, agreed to consider adding the TU provisions back into SF 796 in his committee. Unfortunately, with three Iron Range DFLers voting with the Republicans, the provisions went down 10-11. The Republicans included Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), voting against protecting trout streams and clean water in his area.
The people of SE Minnesota have been putting pressure on Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) to give his DFL “Rangers” some advice on the frac-sand mining and clean water protection. At this point, we understand that Sen. Schmit will offer a slightly modified amendment when SF 796 comes to the floor, and that Sen. Majority Leader Tom Bakk, (DFL-Cook), top Ranger, will support the amendment.
->Action: (1) Send a thank you to Sen. Schmit for his tireless work to protect the environment in his part of the state.
(2) Send a message to your senator urging support for Sen. Schmit’s amendment to the Game and Fish bill, SF 796, when it comes to the Senate floor.
LWV US Position: LWV US supports legislation to equalize the legal rights, obligations, and benefits available to same-gender couples with those available to heterosexual couples. LWVUS supports legislation to permit same-gender couples to marry under civil law. The League believes that the civil status of marriage is already clearly distinguished from the religious institution of marriage and that religious rights will be preserved.
Pauline Nixon, Volunteer Lobbyist
Landmark legislation is headed soon to the floors of both the Minnesota House and Senate. Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) is sponsoring SF 925 and Rep. Karen Clark (DFL–Minneapolis) is sponsoring HF 1054. These bills will allow persons of the same gender to be legally married in Minnesota. Both bills have passed the appropriate Senate and House committees. Leadership in both the House and Senate say the marriage equality bills will be heard only after work on the state budget is completed.
Two groups, Minnesotans United for all Families and Out Front Minnesota, are leading a statewide coalition of more than 200 organizations to get HF 1054 and SF 925 passed. The League of Women Voters Minnesota is a member of this coalition.
Both SF 925 and HF 1054 will allow/provide the means necessary for same gender couples to care for one another. Same gender couples need equal means to do that. For example, one benefit provided by these bills relates to hospitalizations. If one of a couple is hospitalized the caring spouse will be able to visit, speak with the care givers and make decisions about the care provided. Presently such involvement is not always allowed.
Another important provision of the House and Senate bills involves protection of religious freedom. The bill states that “each religious organization, association, or society has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, policy teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within that faith.” It goes on to state that no religious official may be subject to a fine, penalty or civil liability for refusing to solemnize a marriage.
->Action: Readers of this Capitol Letter™ are strongly urged to call, email or meet in person with your state legislators and ask their support for legalizing same gender marriages. Explain that this is a matter of civil rights. The benefits and obligations of marriage that are available to heterosexual couples should also be available to same gender couples.
LWV US Position: A basic level of quality health care at an affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents. Other policy goals should include the equitable distribution of services, efficient and economical delivery of care, advancement of medical research and technology, and a reasonable total national expenditure level for health care.
Glenda Larson, Volunteer Lobbyist
HHS Omnibus Finance Bill in Conference Committee
NEW Companion Bills HF 1233 and SF 1034 Omnibus Health and Human Services Finance bills. Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL–Duluth) and Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick). Both bills passed their respective chambers and the differences are being worked out in conference committee. HF 1233 passed the full House on a 70-64 vote on April 22, 2013, after a long floor session filled with many proposed amendments. SF 1034 passed with a 36-28 vote on April 25, 2013, also after a long floor session.
During this session the legislature has already improved health care for Minnesotans by expanding Medical Assistance (MA) for some low-income individuals and by establishing MNsure, the Minnesota health insurance marketplace exchange. MA is the state’s version of Medicaid which provides affordable health care for the lowest-income residents. See the April 10 Capitol Letter™ for more information.
Many provisions in the House and Senate bills are steps to implement the federal Affordable Care Act. Both bills include a provision keeping young adults on MA until age 26 if they were in foster care at the age of 18. Both eliminate the four-month waiting period with no insurance to qualify for MinnesotaCare (MNCare), the state’s health care insurance program for low and moderate income residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Both also expand MA eligibility to children under the age of 19. Both preserve MNCare and make it the Basic Health Plan in MNsure for families up to 200 percent of the poverty level. Both expand health care coverage through MA to children and pregnant women with incomes up to 275% of poverty. Both include increases in payments to some MA health care providers, including dental providers.
Some differences need to be discussed in conference committee:
- The Senate eliminated the MNCare $1000 hospital co-pay; the House bill does not include this.
- The Senate bill allows Minnesotans in jail or prison waiting for the disposition of charges to apply for or enroll in MNCare; the House bill does not include this.
There are also differences in the proposals to raise additional revenue for health and human services. The HHS budget targets required the House to cut $150 million and the Senate $153 million. These cuts are in addition to the $1billion in cuts made during the 2011 legislative session. The House bill places a surcharge on hospitals and on intermediate facilities for the developmentally disabled that would raise $110 million and be partially reimbursed by federal funds. In addition to the hospital surcharge, the House reduces HMO reserves (the money would be directed toward reducing premiums) for a savings of $48 million and would save $21 million by reducing managed care contracts. The Senate would place a surcharge on HMOs to increase revenue by $80 million and would save $54 million by reducing managed care contracts. The conference committee is waiting for revised budget targets from legislative leaders.
Further savings in the HHS budget are proposed by shifting Medical Assistance payments from the general fund to the Health Care Access Fund. The Health Care Access Fund is used to help cover health care for low and moderate income working families. It is funded by a provider tax and is scheduled to end in 2019. The Senate’s omnibus HHS bill repeals the scheduled sunset of the provider tax as a way to bring in needed funding for MA. If no additional revenue source is established, MinnesotaCare and MA will be in jeopardy in the future.
Rep. Huntley said that the conference committee may complete its work by May 10, according to Session Daily. Then the House and Senate will consider adopting the conference committee report and re-passage of the bill before the end of the legislative session on May 20.
The 10 members of the Health and Human Services conference committee are:
Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick)
Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina)
Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis)
Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato)
Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington)
Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth)
Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester)
Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis)
Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul)
Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka)
Thanks to Session Daily, Minnesota Budget Bites and NAMI Minnesota for information used in this report.
LWV Minnesota Position: LWV Minnesota supports incorporating immigrants into our communities by providing access to education…(Details) All Minnesota residents regardless of their immigration status, should be eligible for in-state tuition at state colleges and universities under the same conditions such as one year’s state residency or graduation from a Minnesota high school. The Department of Public Safety should recognize the Matricular Consular as an acceptable document to prove identity for obtaining a driver’s license.(2003)
Judy Stuthman, Volunteer Lobbyist
We all have dreams of what we hope to achieve or accomplish. For a group of young Minnesotans, their dreams came a bit closer to reality with the passage of SF 723 on the Senate floor on May 1, 2013by a 41 to 23 majority. Author Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) has worked hard for passage of this bill but in reality she has worked for over 10 years to seek passage of the Dream Act, also known at the Prosperity Act. It will now be included in the Omnibus Higher Education Finance Bill, SF 1236, as it goes to conference committee.
Undocumented youth, who came as infants or children to the U.S. and then to Minnesota, will benefit. The Dream Act at the state level provides the opportunity to attend college at the in-state tuition rate and opens up the possibility of qualifying for state grants and private scholarships. Passage of the DREAM Act at the federal level would open up a path to citizenship. The Minnesota and federal bills complement each other but have different goals; let’s move on this now!
A recent Star Tribune article reported that fewer than 500 high school graduates are expected to benefit from the Minnesota Dream Act each year, but proponents believe that the symbolic support it shows for the students is meaningful. State higher education officials have testified that the cost will be only .03% of the State Grant budget, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sees it as a way of boosting skills of our workers. Although Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) suggested Minnesota “wait until federal immigration reform is completed” to pass this legislation, that may take a long time.
Hector Garcia, Executive Director of the Minnesota Chicano Latino Affairs Council, used the Pew Research Center formula to calculate that there are approximately 50,000 people who are undocumented in Minnesota. Our state ranked last in the nation in business creation in 2012 by the Index of Entrepreneurial Activity and last in Latino high school graduation rates in 2011 by the U.S. Department. of Education. Certainly we can do better, and passage of the Dream Act (Prosperity Act) is a good step forward.
At the federal level, the bill to lead to Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been introduced. LWVUS sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging senators to ensure that a path to citizenship is available to all who remain legally in the U.S. One of the LWV’s fundamental goals is to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. As such, LWVUS wrote, “We believe it is essential that all in the U.S. have a clear path to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship in order to strengthen our nation and society. A dangerous precedent would be created if Congress were to create a large new subclass of people in the U.S. – those who live here permanently but who are not required to carry the full duties and responsibilities of citizenship.”
Council of Metropolitan Area Leagues (CMAL) Position on Metropolitan Council: Support the development of the Metropolitan Council as the decision-making body for metropolitan needs in accordance with these criteria: efficiency and economy, equitable financing, flexibility, citizen control and responsiveness to the electorate….
- Details: [among other items] … an open appointment process including … district apportionment based on population.
CMAL Position on Transportation: Support the Metropolitan Council as the single metropolitan agency planning and coordinating a diverse transportation system, meeting varied needs, and having approval authority over this system’s major capital expenditures. New funding sources should be service related. (1983) Support various modes of transportation both public and private, including …buses…. A light rail transit mode can be supported if assured high ridership, economic feasibility and integration into the total transportation system.
Lois Quam, Volunteer Lobbyist
Met Council – Proposed Change in District Boundaries
NEW Companion Bills SF 1564 and HF 1684 Metropolitan Council Redistricting Plan. Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington) and Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) These new bills present Metropolitan Council redistricting plans. A boundary change is necessary because of population changes since the last redistricting. According to materials provided by Committee Administrator Jim Gelbmann of the House Elections and Government Operations Committees, the ideal Metropolitan Council district would contain approximately 178,000 individuals. The current allocation of population among the districts ranges from a low of about 167,000 to a high of about 188,000. Clearly, some variation must be allowed in order to permit lines to be drawn that will keep community representation consolidated. For those who would like to view proposed plans and make comparisons with the current boundaries, the information can be reviewed here.
Although both the Senate and House have passed bills on redistricting for the Metropolitan Council, the plans identified are not the same – the Senate bill identifies plan 2013-1A and the House bill identifies plan 2013-4. I reviewed the two plans and I believe that the lines are significantly different. When the two chambers find agreement and the final bill is passed, the governor must appoint members for the new districts within 60 days.
Back in the February 21 Capitol Letter™ , I was optimistic about a plan included in Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget for a ½ cent sales tax increase in the metropolitan area to provide a revenue stream for transit development. In the last few weeks that provision has been dropped from proposals. According to Transit for Livable Communities there is consensus by experts that a transportation plan will only be passed by the House and Senate if it provides significant new funding for roads and bridges as well, the logic being that transportation needs to be addressed as a statewide issue.