Lawmakers Deal with Budget Talks and Real ID Tuesday

Another busy day for lawmakers as they have less than a week to compromise on a budget.

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House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Minority Paul Gazelka answer questions following another round of negotiations (Preya Samsundar/Alpha News)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Lawmakers at Minnesota’s Capitol had a busy Tuesday as talks with the Governor took a step in the right direction of getting a budget written up by agreeing on a number for one omnibus bill. Lawmakers also passed several pieces of legislation and heard Real ID for the final time.  

Budget Numbers

Another day of negotiations for leadership in both parties as they met with the Gov. Mark Dayton to hash out an agreement on a compromised budget six days before a potential government shutdown and special session.

The morning was spent deciding who was at fault that a morning meeting did not occur. Deputy Chief of Staff Linden Zakula blamed House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka for failing to show up at the agreed upon time. The Senate was in session at 11:00 a.m. where Gazelka read a quick resolution on National Police Week. Katie Fulkerson, Press Secretary for the Senate Republican Caucus reminded Zakula that everyone was aware of the Senate being on the floor at that time.

Dayton gave his global offer this afternoon to House and Senate leadership. Later in the afternoon, Leadership returned with a counteroffer, in which both Dayton and Gazelka announced that both sides had come to an agreement on the smallest budget, agriculture for a total of $4.97 million.

Both sides are still far off from reaching peaceful middle as handouts show the Governor and Leadership off by several hundred million dollars in specific budgets.

Gazelka and Daudt both said a significant hike in tab license fees were unacceptable and that they would not agree to bill with the fee hike or an increased gas tax.

“He knows that we are serious about it,” Gazelka said when asked if they addressed the hike with Dayton.

“We appreciate that they made a sincere offer and we made a sincere offer this morning,” Dayton said following talks with Republican leadership.

Both sides agree that they still have a long way to go.

Floor of the House

Lawmakers in the Minnesota House overhauled the teacher licensing system in Minnesota. The bill would do away with the Board of Teaching and create the Professional Educator LIcensing and Standards Board where they would evaluate educational licenses and create a new licensing system.  

The House is expected to vote on Real ID and an $800 million bonding bill on Wednesday.

Floor of the Senate

Lawmakers in the Minnesota Senate proposed and passed a bill that would keep the racing commission open should a government shutdown take place if leadership cannot come to an agreement on a budget.

Lawmakers also passed a bill that would eliminate the need for a transcript to be provided in evidence when body camera recordings are used in trial.

Lawmakers also passed the conference committee report for the teacher licensing system overhaul, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.

Real ID Conference Committee

The Real ID Conference Committee was a last minute addition with a 7:00 p.m. start time, but started 15 minutes late due to sessions on the floor running well past 6:00 p.m.

Sen. Ann Rest (D-New Hope) asked several clarification questions, but the committee adopted agreed upon amendments, mainly technical and clarifying changes quickly. The committee voted unanimously and had adjourned by 8:00 p.m.

“This bill has generated a lot of support from many factions of both the House Caucus and the Senate Caucus,” Rep. Dennis Smith  (R-Maple Grove) said after the vote. “I’m comfortable and I’m hoping the Senate is comfortable as well with this finished product.”

The agreed upon bill was missing one very important clause: language that would bar illegal immigrants from obtaining a license. The language that has caused controversy between Republicans and Democrats for several sessions was ultimately removed and placed in the public safety omnibus bill.

“We’ve always been of the idea that the issue of illegal drivers license should be separate from Real ID,” Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) said after the hearing. “Rep. [Dennis] Smith was a great help in getting it through the house.”

The bill is expected to be on the floor tomorrow morning.

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