Legislative session ends with work left undone

The Minnesota Constitution requires that the Legislature adjourn by the third Monday in May. Unfortunately, there’s no constitutional requirement that legislators get everything done! Continued squabbling over pandemic response and other issues meant that the Legislature did not finish many things we hoped it would accomplish, such as a bonding bill and an LCCMR bill. However, all hope is not lost because legislative leaders and the Governor have indicated there will likely be a special session in June to finish some of their work.

Funding the DNR’s local parks and trails programs has been a top legislative priority for the GMPT over the last several years. Heading into the final week of session, it was looking like we could have success on two fronts for these programs. The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) had recommended $2.6 million for these programs, but the Legislature needed to approve those recommendations. A dispute over wastewater infrastructure funding slowed down negotiations, but in the final days both the House and Senate passed their own version of the bill with the parks and trails money included, plus funding for several GMPT member projects. Unfortunately, unrelated issues kept the House and Senate from reaching a final agreement. We hope that the parties can work together and pass a bill in the anticipated special session in June.

It looked like a bonding bill could be coming together as well during the closing week of session. On May 11, the House unveiled its proposal which included the Governor’s (and our) recommendation for $4 million for the DNR’s local parks and trails grant programs. The Senate finally unveiled its much smaller bill on Saturday and it did not include the grant programs. Both the House and Senate put their bonding bills up for a vote over the weekend, but both bills failed as neither was able to achieve the three-fifths majority needed to pass a bonding bill.

We are disappointed that the Legislature could not come together and finish this work, but we will keep you updated on how you can help us push them toward getting it done in June.

If you have any questions about legislative issues, please contact GMPT lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.