CapitolWatch - January 26, 2009
In This Issue:
by Peter J. Coyle
The broad outline of the challenges confronting Minnesota during the current legislative session were defined by two separate but related events recently held at the capitol: Governor Tim Pawlenty's State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature and a presentation of the findings of the State Budget Trends Study Commission. Neither identified specific solutions to the projected $5 billion budget deficit, though they confirmed the magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead.
Minnesota: A Biodiesel Frontrunner
By Karin O. Holt
Other states are taking note of Minnesota’s rapidly expanding biodiesel industry. In May, the state biodiesel mandate will increase from 2 percent to 5 percent. Current production levels show that we have the capacity to exceed this threshold.
Low-Carbon Fuel Standards and Environmental Permitting Reform
by Peder A. Larson
State budget problems, climate change concerns and state job losses create the best situation ever to test the principle that environmental protection and economic development are complimentary goals. This week the legislature had it’s first hearing on a climate change bill—a Low Carbon Fuel Standard for transportation fuels--and it took a big room to hold all the interested parties. Coming soon could be a serious effort to revise Minnesota’s environmental review and permitting system.
Shared Services Proposal Brings Schools to the Table
by Julie L. Perrus
One of the first bills introduced this session in the Minnesota House has been dubbed the “New Minnesota Miracle,” a proposal by Representative Mindy Greiling and others to reform the education finance system in Minnesota. However, that isn’t the education bill that’s being talked about most right now at the capitol. Instead, Senator Terri Bonoff and Representative Ryan Winkler’s proposal to mandate that school districts participate in shared services has raised concerns among multiple groups involved in K-12 education.
Welcome to Your Health Care Home
by Marnie S. Moore-Lindman
If you are currently unfamiliar with the term Health Care Home, that should change soon. Health Care Homes played a dominant role in the 2008 health care reform legislation and continue to be a major area of focus in 2009.
Overheard at the Capitol:
“I see a handout on my desk about farmers tilling up wetlands. First of all, no one’s tilling anything right now in Minnesota.” Rep. Al Juhnke on the House Floor, January 22nd, arguing against the need to suspend the rules and pass a bill repealing the 2008 changes to the Green Acres law.
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