Two weeks from Monday is the required end of the Legislature’s election-year session. A tax code overhaul, a construction borrowing package and school spending are among the bigger items left to sort out. But there are some other initiatives in limbo during this final stretch. Here’s a lightning quick look at where things stand.
A hands-free cellphone law for drivers: It had early momentum and widespread backing but is now racing to get across the finish line. Expect a final House committee hearing this week and continued pressure by advocates to get it moving toward a vote in the Senate. Gov. Mark Dayton is on board.
A crackdown on freeway-blocking protests: There are a couple bills to stiffen criminal or civil penalties for protests that violate public nuisance laws. Some are in a wide-ranging budget bill and the House is set to vote Tuesday on a standalone measure. Dayton is keeping an open mind.
A constitutional amendment to dedicate more sales taxes to transportation projects: Differing House and Senate versions have more committees to clear before full votes. A House committee will consider the plan Monday. The Legislature determines what gets on November’s ballot so Dayton’s opposition won’t be the deciding factor.
A fix for public worker pensions: The Senate unanimously passed a bill in March increasing both employer and employee contributions to close a big future gap. Dayton supports it. The House begins formal consideration this week.
Wild rice protections: A bill to nullify a decades-old sulfate discharge law in waters where wild rice grows awaits final action in both chambers after different versions passed in the House and Senate. Dayton has threatened a veto.
The three veterans homes that would be built using the Vikings stadium account: The House has voted to divert more than $25 million to assist in construction of homes in Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji. It’ll be part of budget negotiations with the Senate, but Dayton says he’ll block use of the dedicated account and wants to explore alternatives.
A work requirement for many people receiving Minnesota’s version of Medicaid: To the surprise of some, Republicans left their proposal out of the budget bills that passed off the House and Senate floors. But a stand-alone legislation — requiring the state to seek a federal waiver to impose the work rule — could still come up this year. It’s a Dayton veto target.
Dayton’s MinnesotaCare buy-in proposal: All but doomed. Republicans have resisted the proposal to have a public insurance option the broader insurance market.
State cybersecurity: The House has passed a budget measure that would require state agencies to dedicate 3.5 percent of their existing budgets to safeguard electronic data. The Senate has put up very little. Dayton wanted about $20 million in new money. All three have money for election system security.
Cameras in the courtroom: The House has passed a bill that would bar broadcast recording or photographs from courtrooms unless there is express consent from the defendant and any victim.
Vehicle registration system fixes: An early $10 million infusion has yet to be followed with additional money Dayton’s administration says is needed to get the bugs out of the system known as MNLARS. But several proposals are floating around, including some to reimburse deputy registrars for their extra costs of serving customers.
A change to Minnesota’s sexual harassment legal standard: The House is on record supporting a new law that could allow more lawsuits to proceed even if harassment doesn’t qualify as severe or pervasive. The policy shift was added to a public safety bill and could also move in a separate bill. The question is whether the Senate will go along given concerns from the business community about a flood of cases.