Capitol Watch, March 23, 2009





Editor’s Corner
by Peter Coyle

Just as the end of March signals the kick-off to a flurry of state high school tournaments, so too does the state legislature kick it into high gear.  The last week of March leads to the legislature's first policy committee deadline on Friday, March 27th.  For a policy bill to remain active this session, it must clear all policy committees in either the House or Senate by the first deadline; the second policy deadline (applying to other legislative body) is April 7th.  As a consequence, the policy committees in the respective legislative bodies have been meeting in extended sessions, often well into the evening, to clear as many policy bills as possible before deadlines.  Legislators find themselves caught between conflicting committee hearings and bill presentations arranged around regular floor sessions; public attendees to the Capitol find it hard to catch a minute of time with their legislators; lobbyists have that odd mix of fear and delight that comes from being perched on a precipice with the issues they and their clients care deeply about.  It's all part of the fun. Read More

Department Restructuring a Possibility
by Peder Larson

The legislature this week hears a bill to abolish the Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Board of Water and Soil Resources and appoint a committee to design a replacement.  Governor Pawlenty is already on record this session suggesting the elimination of the Environmental Quality Board.  Could it be that this time the legislature will go beyond their occasional threats to restructure these agencies and actually take action? Read More

Tax Battle Lines Drawn More Clearly
by Peter Coyle

This week Governor Tim Pawlenty and House DFL leadership laid out their respective budget and tax proposals, factoring in the most recent projected budget deficit for the coming 2010-11 biennium and the availability of federal budget relief.  Not surprisingly, Governor Pawlenty adheres to his “no new taxes” strategy, while the House proposal calls for unspecified tax increases of approximately $1.5 billion.  Senate DFL leaders have not released their budget plan yet, but suggest a large tax hike is needed to balance the budget.  Read More

Solar Energy Initiatives at the Minnesota Legislature
by Karin Holt

Did you know that Minneapolis has more solar energy capacity than Houston, Texas?  In fact, Minnesota has excellent potential for solar power because of our position on the globe. The sun is lower in the sky, especially during the winter months, which creates more direct sunlight in Minnesota than in other locations.  There are several bills currently under consideration at the Minnesota Legislature which promote the use of different forms of solar energy.  Read More

Bills Moving Quickly as Deadlines Approach
by Julie Perrus

These next few weeks are critical ones at the Capitol for both policy and finance proposals.  With legislative deadlines approaching, including the first policy deadline on March 27th, bills have to be moving through committees or they will be considered “dead” for the remainder of the session.  It makes for long nights and quick agenda changes in St. Paul.  Several of the bills moving through the process are summarized here.   


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March 23 

Contact Our Government Relations Attorneys:

Peter J. Coyle Email 952.896.3214

Karin O. Holt 
Email 952.896.3295

Peder A. Larson 
Email 952.896.3257 

Marnie S. Moore
Email 952.896.3377

Julie L. Perrus
Email 952.896.3308

Gerald L. Seck
Email 952.896.3205