While Senate Republicans put two of their most powerful members – Majority Leader Amy Koch and Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel – in front of the group’s major “jobs bill,” the House GOP plucked two freshmen to carry the caucus’ first big proposals of the session.
Freshman Rep. King Banaian, an economics professor from St. Cloud, outlined a bill that would enact zero-based budgeting for the next biennium and require a 10-year review by the Legislative Auditor on the sunset of all state agencies. Majority Leader Matt Dean called him the “Wayne Gretzky of economics” at a Capitol news conference Monday.
Freshman Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, is carrying a GOP proposal to streamline the permitting and environmental review process for businesses. The proposal would establish a 150 day permitting goal for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources, bring environmental review decisions to the Court of Appeals instead of the slower district courts, and allow businesses to draft Environmental Impact Statements.
“This is what business owners say is keeping them from expanding in Minnesota,” House Speaker Kurt Zellers said.
House Democrats said the first two bills do little to deal with the state’s $6.2 billion budget deficit, which should be the Legislature’s first priority. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said the Republican’s priorities line up closely with that of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses across the state.
“That says a lot about the direction this session is heading,” he said.
Here’s a brief rundown of the remainder of the first 10 House bills of the session.
H. F. 3: As chatter around the Capitol suggested, a bill to allow for alternative forms of teacher licensure cropped up in the first few bills of the 2011 session. DFL Rep. Carlos Mariani and Kim Norton are joined by returning GOP Rep. Sondra Erickson in bringing the proposal. The proposal is referred to the Education Reform Committee.
H. F. 4: GOP Rep. Keith Downey is the chief author on this proposal, which aims to reduce the state workforce and create an early retirement program. He is joined by representatives Steve Drazkowski, Zellers, Bruce Anderson and Peggy Scott. It will head to the Government Operations and Elections Committee.
H. F. 5: This proposal would implement a salary and wage freeze for state employees, brought by Republican Rep. Denny McNamara. It’s heading to the Government Operations and Elections panel.
H. F. 6: Brought by a Republican cadre of legislators, including Tony Cornish, Kelby Woodard, John Kriesel, Mike LeMieur, Tom Hackbarth, Ernie Leidiger and Scott, this bill would increase the penalty for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. Naturally, the bill will go first to the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance panel.
H. F. 7: This bill aims to abolish a slew of mandates pertaining to local governments. The bill brought by Drazkowski, Banaian, Woodard, Fabian, Roger Crawford, Kurt Daudt, Bud Nornes and Bob Barrett will get its first hearing in the Government Operations and Elections Committee.
H. F. 8: This human services bill seeks to start the “healthy Minnesota contribution program,” according to introductions, and redesign service delivery for lower-income MinnesotaCare enrollees. That is heading to Health and Human Services Reform. It’s brought by GOP representatives Steve Gottwalt, Sarah Anderson, Duane Quam and Woodard.
H. F. 9: Like in the Senate, House GOPers want to get rid of the ban on constructing new nuclear power plants. It heads to the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee Tuesday. The bill was introduced by a long list of Republicans and some Democrats.
H. F. 10: While it wasn’t number one on its list, the House managed to sneak reducing the corporate tax rate into the first 10 bills. The bill was brought by GOPers Jenifer Loon, Sarah Anderson and Fabian. It will go to the Taxes Committee.