1) A key deal on $103 million in additional tax relief emerged Wednesday evening and was announced on Thursday, capping one of the major fiscal bills of this legislative session. Lawmakers hope to pass the measure out of conference committee on Monday.
The legislation would cut an estimated $103 million in revenue during the current biennium, with an out-biennium tax reduction of $118 million for 2016-2017. An initially slow-moving conference committee kept many of the House’s property tax cut proposals intact, but drifted closer to the Senate tax reduction target. “We pretty much got all the House provisions, almost as they left the floor,” said Rep. Ann Lenczewski, who led the House Democrats on the committee.
The Senate kept in a roughly $20 million proposal to help local governments fight aquatic invasive species. The House and Senate passed a first round of $447 million in tax cuts earlier this session.
2) The Minnesota House will take up a strict medical marijuana proposal on its floor on Friday, the Associated Press reports.
The state Senate passed a much more expansive medical marijuana proposal with an overwhelming 48-18 vote on Tuesday. Many advocates back the Senate plan over the House proposal, which Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, offered as a compromise toward law enforcement who have so far vigorously opposed medical marijuana legislation in Minnesota.
The House plan has more than 50 pre-filed amendments that will likely attempt to increase the number of distribution centers and the conditions that are eligible for treatment with medical marijuana. Gov. Mark Dayton has expressed serious reservations with medical marijuana, siding with the law enforcement community.
3) The Women’s Economic Security Act, legislation aimed at improving gender equity in the workplace, is headed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk, the Associated Press reports. The Senate passed the final version of the proposal late Thursday evening.
Under the bill, which will likely soon be law, would double the amount of pregnancy and parenting leave available, up to 12 weeks. The bill would also add “familial status” to anti-discrimination laws and require that companies that receive state contracts for more than $500,000 would have to prove they pay men and women equally for similar work.
A vote to send the proposal back to conference committee over a provision that business groups have concerns over narrowly failed, and the bill passed shortly after. “The Women’s Economic Security Act will position Minnesota as a leader in the nation on issues like the gender pay gap and workplace protections for pregnant women and nursing mothers,” Sen. Sandy Pappas, the measure’s author, said in a statement after the vote. “We are going to see real progress and that’s tremendously exciting.”
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Gov. Mark Dayton has several events on his schedule today. At 3:00 p.m., the governor will stop in Brainerd to purchase his fishing license. At 4:00 p.m., Dayton will move on to Nisswa, where he will give an address on the fishing opener followed by a media availability at 4:50 p.m. At 7:15, he will be in Rochester to give an address commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Mayo Clinic. At 11:35 p.m., Dayton will be in Grand View Lodge for the midnight fishing opener.
- Rice Lake Boring Inc., based out of the town of Jordan, retained a pair of independent lobbyists — Quinn Cheney and DeAnn Stish — to represent its interests at the Capitol.
- The Freshwater Society, a nonprofit dedicated to preservation and management advocacy for the state’s waterways, is hiring for a pair of senior positions. The organization is looking for a director of its research and policy work, as well as the areas of finance and administration. Ideal candidates for the research position should have 8-10 years of professional experience, including six related to water resources; the financial director should have similar experience as it pertains to money management. Email resume and cover letter for either job to [email protected]
- The Humphrey School of Public Affairs will hold its commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 18, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Ted Mann Hall. The commencement speaker is former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who now teaches a class at the graduate school. Following the ceremony, a reception will be held on the terrace outside.
- Kaitlyn O’Connor has registered to lobby for the Land Stewardship Project, where she has worked as a staffer since December; her registration brings that group’s current roster up to six.