Letter: It's crunch time at the CapitolAs we move into the final week of session, lawmakers are wrapping up final bills and working on a budget agreement with the Governor before our adjournment date, May 23.
By: Dist. 22 Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, Worthington Daily Globe
As we move into the final week of session, lawmakers are wrapping up final bills and working on a budget agreement with the Governor before our adjournment date, May 23. Our combined bills spend about $34 billion over the next two years — the revenue the state has available in its bank account. While this amount is a substantial increase over the General Fund spending of the past biennium, the governor is holding out for significantly more spending, paid for by serious tax increases that would hurt job creation and economic recovery.
Here are some updates on a few other issues from this past week:
Senate passes Legacy Bill appropriations: The Senate passed the Legacy Bill, which allocates funds generated from the 2008 Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Act constitutional amendment. The legislation appropriates $449.223 million over the next biennium to funds for Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water, Parks and Trails, and Arts and Cultural Heritage. The bill passed Thursday with a bi-partisan vote of 52-14.
The bill seeks to preserve and enhance Minnesota’s environment, parks and trails, and arts and culture. The funds were allocated in a bi-partisan manner that was fair to both rural and metro Minnesota. After passing the Senate, differences between the House and Senate Legacy Bills will be resolved in a conference committee.
Senate passes marriage definition ballot question: The Minnesota Senate passed a measure that will allow Minnesota citizens, not courts or the Legislature, to define marriage. The House will take up the measure next week, and if passed, will be placed on the 2012 ballot.
The proposed constitutional amendment asks voters to define marriage. Placement on the 2012 ballot allows a year of public discussion in communities statewide in order to be prepared to vote in next year’s general election, rather than allowing a small number of politicians or activist judges to decide the definition of marriage. Thirty-one other states have passed similar measures.
Senate passes omnibus drug bill: The Minnesota Senate unanimously passed the omnibus drug bill Thursday, and will send the measure to the governor. The bill contains provisions relating to designer drugs, analogs and fluid from water pipes used with marijuana.
An additional provision in the bill would specify in current law that the weight of fluid used in a water pipe for marijuana cannot be considered as part of the total possession weight unless it is four or more fluid ounces. This means that a person’s conviction for possession or sales of marijuana would be based on the weight of the actual substance itself, not on the residual water left in the pipe after it is used.
This week at the Capitol: At the beginning of the final week of the legislative session, we are optimistic that all budget proceeding will be completed by May 23rd. At this time of year, things can change quickly for issues not yet finalized, so remember you can find the latest budget and committee information on the official Senate website, http://www.senate.mn/.
I appreciate your input. Contact me at any time with your comments about these or any other legislative issue.
District 22 Sen. Doug Magnus