Session 2013 in final stretch

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(Opponents of a bill to allow in-home child care workers and Personal Care Assistants to vote to join a union rally outside of the House chambers MPR Photo/Tom Scheck)

Both the House and Senate are holding Saturday floor sessions with the goal of finishing their work before Monday’s midnight deadline to adjourn.

A conference committee agreed on the K-12 education bill early this morning. The $16 billion measure is the biggest chunk of the state’s two year budget. It increases funding for schools, pays for statewide all-day-kindergarten and funds scholarships to give low income kids access to high quality early education.

“We’re going to give kids that jump-start that study after study shows makes a huge difference,” said Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth.

Another conference committee focused on the environment and agriculture dropped a House plan to raise water fees by $6 million but agreed to fund more groundwater monitoring with a similar amount from the state’s general fund.

The Senate passed an $11 billion bill that funds health and human services programs. The key provision in that plan is a 5 percent increase for long-term care facilities in Minnesota.

“This is largest increase in nursing home funding in over a decade,” Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, said.

The bill now heads to Gov. Dayton for his signature.

As lawmakers work to finish budget, there are still several outstanding issues.

The fate of a measure to raise the minimum wage is still unclear, and it looks like lawmakers will not pass a bonding bill after the $800 million public works construction measure failed in the House Friday.

The conference committee on taxes is still working out details of a $2 billion plan to raise income taxes on top earners and raise the cigarette tax. That bill raises the money to erase a projected $627 million budget deficit and pay for the DFL plans for increased spending for schools, colleges and property tax relief.

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of a bill that would allow in-home child care workers and personal care assistants to vote on whether to unionize rallied at the Capitol. The bill is poised for a House vote.

The Senate passed it earlier this week after a marathon 17 hour debate. Republicans in the House have warned that they intend to debate the bill as long or longer.

“It’s outrageous that Democrats want to bring this legislation to the floor,” Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood wrote in an e-mail to his constituents. “It represents a political payback to special interest labor bosses that spent millions of dollars and helped vault Democrats into the majority.”

Union leaders and DFL supporters of the bill say it will give child care providers and PCAs benefits like health insurance and a unified voice at the Capitol.

DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen said the House will vote on the bill sometime this weekend.