January 27, 2023

When the Legislative Assembly meets in early January under the full control of the DFL for the first time since 2014, legislators will also have a huge Surplus of $17.6 billion – that’s the technical term for it – as they set a two-year state budget and consider a number of policy measures.

Much of this will be legislation that previously stalled when Republicans had a majority in the state Senate. The DFL will now have a one-seat advantage in the Senate.


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What will next year bring to Greater Minnesota? Here are a few storylines worth watching:

  1. Decreasing influence of Greater Minnesota in the Legislature and how it affects what passes

There are many ways to illustrate the shift in power in the Legislature from Greater Minnesota to the Twin Cities after the November election.

But here’s one: in 2022, lawmakers from Greater Minnesota chaired 22 of the 28 committees in the Republican-controlled state Senate. But after the DFL flipped the House, Greater Minnesota lawmakers will chair only three of the 20 committees.


Even in the state House of Representatives, where the DFL has retained its majority, the number of committees chaired by Greater Minnesota legislators will drop from eight to four. This is partly because the handful of remaining DFLers from outside the metro were defeated by the Republicans.

The end result is much less formal influence of Greater Minnesota in the political process. This does not mean that Republicans and DFLers from outside the metro cannot influence legislation in the Capitol.

But they won’t have that kind of power. This could mean a completely different set of spending and policy decisions by lawmakers.


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  1. Will Greater Minnesota Democrats Ruin DFL’s Greater Ambitions

There may be fewer Greater Minnesota legislators in leadership positions in the Capitol. But there are still enough DFL members to wield huge influence on important issues, as the party has narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

For example, the DFL has a one-vote majority in the Senate, and some newly elected legislators, such as new senator Rob Kupek of Moorhead or Grant Hauschild of Hermantown, can set limits on the DFL’s agenda.


How a handful of DFLs from more conservative and rural areas tackle sensitive issues such as climate regulation, gun restrictions, and taxation and spending issues could be the focus of a legislative session.

And they could also speak up on issues like removing the state tax on Social Security benefits. At least four of the six Greater Minnesota DFL members in the State Senate publicly support repeal of this tax, which many leading Democrats oppose.

Inflation and the rising cost of living have been a major concern for Greater Minnesota this year.

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  1. Prospects for the state building bill and how many projects in Greater Minnesota will be cut

Republican MPs and the DFL have said they want to approve a package of state-funded building projects in the 2022 session. And they even had a rough sketch of what this bond bill might look like.

However, the bill was undermined – like much of the work of the Legislature – by a larger disagreement over how to spend Minnesota’s budget surplus. Legislators in 2020 passed a historically large bond bill. But they did not pass either in 2021 or 2022marking the first time since at least 1983 that the Legislature failed to pass a bond bill within a two-year budget cycle.

The lack of a bond bill has drawn local condemnation in much of Greater Minnesota, where money to subsidize projects like sewage plant upgrades helps offset local property taxes. And it has also irritated union leaders who are pushing for rallying projects because they create construction jobs.

Will the bond bill bring this year? While the DFL can have full control, general obligation bonds require a supermajority of 60 percent to pass, giving Republicans leverage on the issue that they can use to negotiate other topics. In theory, this is one issue on which a bipartisan agreement would be critical in getting the bill to the table for Gov. Tim Walz.

However, House Speaker Melissa Hortman said she could ditch traditional bonds and opt for cash, which only requires a simple majority to use. exclusion of the Republican Party from negotiations.

  1. How do most DFLs deal with farming issues, especially with so few members with farming experience

Farm regulation has been a source of intense controversy and controversy under former Gov. Mark Dayton, who has worked to introduce buffer rules and other restrictions on farmers to reduce water pollution, causing backlash from the industry.

There have been some clashes over Waltz’s agricultural regulations and a divided Legislature, such as when the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency set tightening fertilizer rules for feedlots designed to prevent water pollution. But this was not much of a controversy.

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An “aggregate” bill on agriculture, which summarizes policies and spending on the subject, is usually one of the most bipartisan and easy areas for legislators to find agreement on. Waltz’s agriculture commissioner Tom Petersen is perhaps the most beloved cabinet minister among Republican lawmakers.

Will this change under a DFL-controlled legislature? Senator Aric Putnam will become the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. St. Cloud liberal arts professor. And the chair of the House Agriculture Committee will be Rep. Samantha Wang of Brooklyn Center, a tenant advocate who served as vice chair of the committee in 2022.

  1. How climate and energy policy changes will affect Greater Minnesota

DFL leaders hope spending heavily on climate change policies with Republicans left largely powerless to stop the law.

This could mean that electric vehicle infrastructure in many parts of Greater Minnesota where it does not exist, new spending on ‘weathering’ work to reduce energy consumption – and electricity bills – in a way that has traditionally helped people outside the metropolitan area disproportionately.

But the Legislature is also set to crack down on more controversial provisions in the electricity and transportation sectors that affect some utilities, such as Duluth-based Minnesota Power, which powers large industries like mining.

Another proposed regulation make transport fuel emit less over time supported in the past by biofuel producers, but it has also raised concerns for some that DFLs are planning to phase out the industry entirely in favor of electric vehicles.

Republicans fear that some legislation could increase the already high cost of electricity in Greater Minnesota or limit the availability of gas-powered cars in areas where electric vehicles are currently less practical. But Democrats say fighting climate change is important because it affects much of Greater Minnesota, including through more extreme weather that hurts farmers or warmer winters that hurt cold-weather recreation and tourism. .

#Minnesota #Storylines #Watch #Legislature

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