Committees now try to resolve differences [UPDATED]Published 3:57am Monday, May 20, 2013 Updated 6:02am Monday, May 20, 2013
We are approaching the final week of the legislative session in St. Paul. This year session is scheduled to adjourn Monday, May 20.
Now that the Senate and House have passed their various budget bills, the final week will be filled with a flurry of conference committees to resolve the differences between the two versions of companion legislation. An identical conference committee report is then sent back to each body for final passage, and if passed sent to the governor for his signature.
Budget and Tax Proposals: With a few days remaining in the session, there is still a lot to be done. The governor and legislature need to agree on an overall spending plan and we have not completed any of the budget or tax bills needed.
The Senate and House tax proposals have differences that need to be worked out in conference committee. The Senate proposal calls for nearly $1.9 billion in increased income taxes, a new sales tax on clothing and other everyday items, as well as business and cigarette taxes. Alternatively, the House plan calls for an even larger $2.6 billion tax increase, and notably also includes a huge alcohol tax increase not carried in the Senate bill. Work is expected to continue over the weekend, but final decisions will ultimately depend on a leadership agreement concerning overall “budget targets.”
Childcare Provider Unionization: On Monday, May 6th, the second “do-over” in a week was engaged in by Senate leadership when the bill that would unionize childcare providers and home healthcare workers (PCA’s) failed to pass out of committee by a vote of 11-11 with bipartisan opposition.
Although it had died on a tie, the bill was re-heard just two days later on Wednesday in the committee for reconsideration and ended up passing on a vote of 12-10. Even though there was no change made to the bill, one DFL Senator who stated she did not support the bill just before the vote was taken still switched from a no vote to a yes. With two DFL votes flipping within hours last week on the $1.9 billion tax bill and now again on this controversial topic, many have wondered why such an immediate change of hearts.
Under this bill, daycare providers who choose not to join the union would still be forced to pay “fair share” union fees (85 percent of regular dues), be subject to the terms and conditions negotiated by the union, and be effectively deemed employees of the state. This bill is now awaiting Senate Floor action.
Minimum Wage passes the full Senate: The full Senate passed a bill to increase the minimum wage paid by large employers from $6.15 to $7.25, which matches current federal law. The proposal then increases the minimum wage even more to $7.50 on August 1, 2014 and $7.75 on August 1, 2015. The House of Representatives has also passed a bill that raises the minimum wage up to $9.50/hr. in 2015.
It’s an honor to serve you in the state Senate. We continue to work on balancing our state government’s budget and finding ways to make our economy healthier. I encourage and appreciate citizen input. You can reach me by telephone at (651) 296-3826 or (855) 407-7386, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via mail at 107 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.
State Senator, District 12