Minnesota tenting journeys, state providers face pause as funds disputes proceed on the Capitol

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As the legislature entered the second week of a special legislative session, efforts to prepare for a total or partial shutdown of the state government continued. And on Monday, June 21st, the news began of the possible closings of state parks, health and welfare agencies, and other facets of state government.

The letters are a formality as lawmakers get closer to their deadline for completing a $ 52 billion budget. But as the date drew near, Governor Tim Walz told reporters on Monday that he was working with government agencies to plan contingencies on how to go “naked” in an emergency.

“From a state perspective, that’s closer than we’d like, so we have to take precautionary measures,” said Walz. “It would be best if these are hypothetical and we end this today or tomorrow.”

But he and the legislature leaders said there was pressure in the Capitol to avoid a shutdown and to force a compromise in the coming days. Two higher education and outdoor heritage budget bills were presented to the Senate on Monday, paving the way to the governor’s desk. And some others came up for discussion or were on the agenda on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, six more were still in the works, with funding for E-12 education, health and human services, state government and public safety, which are some of the major divisions between Republicans who control the Senate and Democrats who control the Senate Control House of Representatives, represent representatives and the governor’s office.

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Walz, along with House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, had spent weeks trying to work with committee chairs to resolve disagreements about what was going on in the individual Expense bills should be included.

The leaders said that some of the state’s largest spending bills are completed in a matter of hours if they are not yet completed. And they were optimistic about completing a government spending plan on time.

“The sooner we finish, the better,” said Hortman. “I don’t think anyone should have additional stress in their life because they are worried that we will finish on time. Sen. Gazelka, I and the governor are determined to finish. “

While previous state government shutdowns ended with the state Supreme Court setting the level of funding for state agencies, a 2017 court ruling made it clear that the court would not reassume that responsibility as it is the constitutional duty of lawmakers to set up a budget.

Layoffs and services could come to a standstill in any areas that were not funded by July 1. The effects could hit earlier for various areas of the state government.

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, spoke on Monday the 12th (Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service)

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, spoke on Monday the 12th (Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service)

Walz said the Department of Transportation had to notify contractors Thursday that the state cannot pay them unless lawmakers get an invoice on their desk within days. Gazelka said the impending deadline motivated lawmakers to move on and close outstanding budget bills.

“We cannot allow the state to close,” said Gazelka. “Think of the courts, think of the prisons, think of the facilities that help people, think of all the permits and marriage licenses, all of the things and by the way, state parks and beer, those were things that were them People upset about the last time. It’s much, much wider and that’s why I refuse to let it come to this place. “

Gazelka and Hortman said controversial policies that stalled some of the bills are off the table. And for the first time, Hortman said an agreement to lift Walz’s emergency powers over COVID-19 was part of a final deal.

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, spoke to reporters at the Minnesota Capitol on Monday, May 17, 2021.  (Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service)

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, spoke to reporters at the Minnesota Capitol on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service)

The end of the state peace emergency and emergency powers were a key concern of Republican legislatures, who had long called for a stronger role for lawmakers in determining the state’s response to COVID-19.

Hortman also said she directed committees to work around the clock to finish their work in the coming days and prepare bills for voting. Over the weekend, House Republicans spent 14 hours a day filibustering a series of household bills and postponing votes. But the tone in the chamber should change in the final sprint, she said.

“We’ve allowed a lot of rule-breaking in the last three days,” she said, “that they had a full and fair opportunity to fool themselves, which she picked us up and we need to get the people back.” on the right track to respect the rules of the house. “

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707, or email [email protected]