Tuesday’s here, the regular legislative session is over, but the work still isn’t done. Catch up with your Digest.
1. Deadline missed, budget work will continue. Minnesota lawmakers crossed the regular session finish line at midnight Monday accomplishing little on the final day and knowing that their work on a new two-year budget won’t be complete until they return for a special session. Given the amount of remaining work, it’s unclear when legislators will return and how long they will need to stay. Legislators need extra time because the budget deal Gov. Tim Walz reached with House and Senate leaders wasn’t finalized until Sunday night, and few conference committees were able to wrap up their bills in time Monday for floor votes. Negotiators had big disagreements on many policy items and made little apparent progress on reaching agreements on the big budget bills on the session’s final day. (MPR News)
2. Opioid bill passes. As soon as a landmark opioid addiction response bill got the green light from legislative negotiators Monday, Randy Anderson pumped his fist and then exchanged hugs and high-fives with others in the hearing room audience and ultimately lawmakers, too. Anderson, an addiction counselor in Golden Valley who is in long-term recovery himself, has been watching the issue slog along for years as part of the Steve Rummler Hope Network, an awareness and support organization founded by the parents of a man who died of an addiction to opioids. “It’ll save lives.That’s the bottom line for me,” Anderson said. “People won’t die because we’ll have more money to provide resources.” That money — included in a bill passed with overwhelming support before the Legislature adjourned Monday night — will come from substantially higher licensing fees on companies in the prescription painkiller business. Some big manufacturers will have to pay $305,000 annually to operate in Minnesota. (MPR News)
3. Sexual assault legislation languishes. Legislation to improve how authorities investigate and prosecute rape cases in Minnesota appeared to be in jeopardy Monday as time ran out to strike a deal before a midnight adjournment deadline. A proposal to create a working group that would examine the state’s criminal sexual conduct statutes was not included in the DFL-controlled House’s policy offer to a conference committee on public safety spending, leaving the measure in doubt. Public safety legislation in the GOP-led Senate also made no provision for a working group or task force. The working group was a top priority of advocates for sex assault survivors following a Star Tribune investigative series into widespread failings among Minnesota law enforcement. (Star Tribune)
4. Walz gives up gas tax increase, for now. Ever since he announced his candidacy, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has been pushing for an increase to the state’s gasoline tax to pay for transportation improvements. And then he gave it up — for now, at least. On Sunday after weeks of negotiations, Walz, a Democrat, announced a broad two-year budget agreement with House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa. It did not include a gas tax. On Monday, the Pioneer Press asked Walz why he gave up the gas tax hike, which he had initially proposed as a 20-cent increase over several years, with inflationary increases continuing after that. Walz said he wouldn’t discuss details of the behind-the-scenes budget negotiations, but here’s some of what he did say. (Pioneer Press)
5. Conservatives urge African Americans to rethink Democratic support. Growing up poor and black, Kofi Montzka considered herself a liberal. But after deeper consideration in college, she concluded that the Republican Party’s message was better for low-income people and racial minorities. Instead of telling those groups that they’re smart and equal, she said, liberals send the message that “there’s some barrier, so no matter how hard you try there’s nothing you can do. … That message is incredibly destructive and terrible.” Now an attorney living in Shoreview, Montzka was among a small group of African-Americans in a mostly white crowd that came to the Hilton Minneapolis on Saturday night to hear a speech by conservative commentator and activist Candace Owens calling for black people to leave the Democratic Party. In a city with a strong Democratic lean and some of the nation’s largest gaps in income and education between whites and blacks, Owens’ talk opened a window into the frustrations of black conservatives. (Star Tribune)