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ENEWS: Legislative session wrap-up

Date Published: 07/08/2021

Author: Erin Wilson

Wrapping up the state legislative session

After weeks of debate and the threat of a partial government shutdown, the Minnesota Legislature finished the state’s $52 billion two-year budget last Thursday. For a solid, comprehensive layout of how larger issues of the budget turned out, check out “Here's where Minnesota Legislature landed on 10 top issues in special session” from the Star Tribune. These top issues include Governor Walz’s emergency powers, public safety and regulations for police, taxes, education, pay for pandemic workers, the state reinsurance program, eviction moratorium, elections, the environment, and bonding. The article provides a concise summary of how each issue ended up and links to other articles that dive deeper into each individual issue. Particularly in terms of police accountability, some have criticized the public safety bill for omitting important proposals set forward by the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus. While the bill includes no-knock warrant regulations, violence prevention program funding, and Minnesota POST Board database updates, it does not include proposals on traffic stops and warrants. G&J has also highlighted this issue in the past in the Minnesota Equity Blueprint— for example, on page B-12 you can read about the “Lights On” program allowing officers to offer $50 coupons for auto repairs rather than ticketing for minor equipment issues. 

For more on the debates that slowed down the budget finalization into the final days before the July 1 deadline, you can read “Minnesota House debate bogs down on finishing $52B budget” from AP. 

GOP examining Walz’s commissioners

While the Legislature settled on a budget, the special session continued for GOP senators, who decided to conduct performance reviews of Walz’s commissioners. If the Senate rejects a commissioner, the commissioner loses their job, effective immediately. This has caused some to question whether Republicans are conducting the performance reviews in retaliation for budget conflicts. You can read more about this from MPR News. MPR reporter Brian Bakst also shared an interview with former MN Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop, who said that during legislative negotiations this year, the Senate majority (GOP senators) would not allow the words “climate change,” “environmental justice,” or “equity” to be included in the laws created by the State Legislature.

Global Inclusive Growth Summit 

The Aspen Institute and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth are hosting a day-long summit this October on creating an economy that works for everyone, gathering “leaders from across sectors to catalyze new partnerships and shine a spotlight on solutions that advance inclusive and sustainable economies around the world,” according to the event description. To learn more and register, click here.

Quote: 

“I believe that the direction we were going to focus on those disproportionately affected communities was the right direction and will remain the right direction. Unfortunately, the Senate GOP… when we negotiated in session… would not allow for the words ‘climate change,’ they would not allow for the words ‘environmental justice,’ and they would not allow for the word ‘equity.’” — Brian Bakst interview with former MN Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop


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