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ENEWS: State legislative work continues amidst national upheaval

Date Published: 01/14/2021

Author: Erin Wilson and Michelle Armstrong-Spielberg

House Ways & Means Committee Meeting 

The Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee meeting on Jan. 11 offered a presentation from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) to provide an update on the state’s two primary sources of funding for COVID-19 response (the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and the State’s COVID-19 Minnesota Fund), as well as an overview of recent stimulus bill passed by Congress and how it may benefit Minnesota. From the federal fund, the state originally received a total $2.187 billion, $317 million of which the U.S. Treasury sent directly to Ramsey and Hennepin counties, and sent the remaining $1.8 billion into the State Treasury last April. The $200 million in the State’s COVID-19 Minnesota Fund provides “a flexible pot of money for expenditures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MMB Executive Budget Officer Marianne Conboy during the meeting. MMB said that they are still examining the funds from the most recent federal bill in December to better understand what money may be coming to Minnesota. At this point, MMB said they expect Minnesota to receive around $51 million for vaccination and $324 million for testing. Below are images from MMB’s presentation breaking down both overall funding resources and State resources. Particular details about the federal funding are explained in the last twelve minutes of the meeting. If you would like to view the presentation, you can do so here, and you can find the audio and video of the meeting here.

Photos from Minnesota Management & Budget Presentation at House Ways and Means Committee meeting on Jan. 11, 2021. 

House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee

The House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee held its first meeting of the year on Monday afternoon. After brief introductions of the committee members and staff, one of the staff provided an overview of the committee. Formerly the Jobs Committee, the Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee covers the programs and policies of DEED, except for the broadband department. That includes administration of the agency, its business and workforce development programs, unemployment insurance, and vocational rehabilitation. The committee does not address much pure policy, but more the money for DEED. Committee chair Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-60B) encouraged committee members to think beyond the areas and parties they serve, and work together to strengthen key businesses, improve workforce development, expand economic opportunities for communities that have traditionally been left out (women, BIPOC, people with disabilities) and Greater Minnesota, and attract and invest in new business sectors. You can find video and audio of the meeting here

What we’re reading this week 

To maintain this newsletter’s focus on the start of the legislative session in Minnesota, we suggest you check out this article by Peter Callaghan for MinnPost laying out the challenges facing the State Legislature this session. With Governor Walz and lawmakers' frustration over last week’s violent storming of the Capitol, tension between the governor and legislators at a media forum on Monday, and House Democrats trying to block Republicans from revoking Governor Walz’s emergency powers (which has been attempted seven times throughout the pandemic), the State Legislature had a lot on its plate. It’s important to monitor the regular session closely. 

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