Lawmakers scrambling to finish writing budget bills on time
The gold quadriga stands atop the Minnesota Capitol. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.
Minnesota lawmakers on Friday were still working through several sticking points in budget negotiations for transportation, education and public safety spending, even as they struck deals on other legislation, including drought relief and allowing some breweries to sell growlers.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, made her first appearance with reporters since quarantining with COVID-19 last week, though she’s appeared in negotiations remotely.
“We have to finish our work by midnight on Sunday and we still can,” Hortman said, adding that she and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, have been active in negotiations to help break through logjams.
“People need to get very realistic and cut to the chase and get some things done here today,” she said.
Hortman, Miller and Gov. Tim Walz on Monday announced a broad framework of $4 billion in additional spending, $4 billion in tax cuts leaving lawmakers the task of writing the bills.
The final hours of the 2022 legislative session were continuing in fits and starts, as conference committees continued meeting to discuss offers traded between the GOP-controlled Senate and DFL-majority House. Some smaller pieces of legislation were advancing.
Minnesota livestock and specialty crop producers will be eligible for $18 million in grants if they were hurt by the 2021 drought. Large breweries will be allowed to sell 64-ounce jugs called growlers and 32-ounce cans called crowlers; distilleries will be able to sell standard 750 mL bottles.
The Minnesota House also voted 68-63 to approve a higher education budget bill.
The odds of legalizing sports betting, which advocates had high hopes for this session, seemed to have faltered, despite a last-vote from the Senate to approve sports betting for both tribal nations and the state’s horse racing tracks.
Hortman defended tribal nation’s right to control gambling in the state, arguing the race tracks have other business interests that do not need to include sports betting. Walz has previously said he would not sign legislation that didn’t have the support of the tribes.
Senate Democrats in recent days have attempted to force floor votes on their stalled priorities, including legalizing recreational marijuana and banning price gouging amid the current baby formula shortage.
Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, failed to get the necessary 45 votes to debate the anti-price gouging legislation.
Lawmakers will need to finish approving bills by midnight on Sunday as they aren’t allowed under law to pass bills in the final 24 hours of the biennial session.
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