It took a Session and a one-day special session to seal the deal but a budget was passed. To Recap what passed and what didn't.
- NO GAS TAX or any green new deal insanity as far as we know.
- None of the worst new policy changes we opposed ended up in the final bills –no gun control, no election fraud encouraging laws, no sex ed for kindergarteners, no illegal alien drivers licenses.
- The Governor did not get to spend as much as he wanted. Recall that he wanted a $50 Billion Dollar Budget. This budget spends about $2 Billion less than that.
- A tax bill with tax conformity on the big items plus a small tax cut. So your taxes won't be as complicated next year.
- NO BONDING BILL. This was a budget year, not a bonding year but Governor Walz wanted about $1.3 Billion in new spending on the state credit card. He didn't get it.
Not so good
- We got the Governor to address welfare fraud, including child care fraud, but only with "a blue ribbon panel."
- They spent the surplus. About $491 Million of the surplus will be used to balance the budget in '22-'23. The only ray of hope here is that they don't actually have to do that. The next legislature can reverse it before it happens.
- They let the provider tax or "sick tax" expire but replaced it with a new, slightly lower tax (from 2% to 1.8%) that never expires.
- They extended reinsurance for another 2 years. More taxpayer money going to bail out insurance companies while premiums continue to go up. The argument for then is they lower rates. But we’ll never know by how much.
- The government continues to grow and government spending as well at about 6% in the next biennium.
Here are the laws, passed recently that are going into effect on July 1 and August 1st 2019:
- The state’s new $48 billion budget. About 2 billion under what the governor wanted.
- $40 million in the Agriculture Bill, to broadband infrastructure development in Greater Minnesota.
- Wage theft made a felony. The law appropriates almost $2.05 million during the 2020-21 biennium to the Department of Labor and Industry for a Wage Theft Prevention Initiative, makes wage theft a felony and punishes employers who retaliate against employees reporting such theft to the department. Penalties could include up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Wage theft is defined as, among other things, when an employer “fails to pay an employee all wages, salary, gratuities, earnings, or commissions at the employee's rate or rates of pay or at the rate or rates required by law.” Look for some test cases on this soon, since this is probably the strongest law in the country right now.
- $543 million increase over base in E-12 education. There will be an increase in the basic funding formula by 2 percent each year, for an additional $388.8 million in base funding. It will also add $46.79 Million to voluntary pre-K, and $90.7 Million for special education. The state’s four tribal contract schools, authorized and overseen by the federal Bureau of Indian Education, will receive a $3.53 million appropriation increase under the law. $30 Million one-time money for safe schools grants. This is in response to school shootings, an effort to “harden” schools as targets.
- A new law will make the party choice of a voter who voted in a presidential nomination primary private data but the lists will be turned over to the chairs of the respective political parties. The contentious authorization for the Secretary of State to accept nearly $6.6 million in federal Help America Vote Act funds took effect June 1, 2019. The money is supposed to go toward election security.
Health and Human Services:
- Opioid response to be funded through fees on pharmaceutical industry The state’s response to the opioid crisis, authorized in a new law effective July 1, 2019, has funding for county social service and tribal social service agencies to provide child protection services to families affected by addiction; and increased funding for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for additional drug scientists, lab supplies and special agents focused on drug interdiction and trafficking. To fund these initiatives, registration fees of $250,000 a year will be assessed on any opiate manufacturer that annually sells, delivers or distributes 2 million or more units within or into the state. Registration fees will sunset and the $55,000 renewal fees shall be reduced once the state recovers at least $250 million from settlements with pharmaceutical companies after a minimum of five years. Any revenue from settlements will be earmarked specifically for opioid response efforts. The law also calls on the Board of Pharmacy to evaluate the effectiveness of the fees and determine whether the legislation has had any unintended impact on the availability of opiates for the treatment of chronic or intractable pain. This report must be submitted to the Legislature by March 1, 2024. The Legislature shall review this, as well as reports from the Opiate Epidemic Response Advisory Council, to determine whether the registration fee should continue beyond July 1, 2024. Look for stories about Doctors under prescribing opioids to people with chronic acute pain. There was already one in USA Today.
- The Minnesota Family Investment Program’s cash assistance program is increased by $100/month. This is the first increase in more than 30 years.
- Payments for certified doula services are increased to $47 per prenatal or postpartum visit, and $488 for attending a birth.
- Provider-patient relationship to be required for ophthalmic prescriptions. A new law, effective July 1, 2019, will require a provider-patient relationship for ophthalmic prescriptions – such as contacts or eyeglasses – to be issued, including for online prescriptions.
- Volunteer health care provider programs that allow that provide free monitoring and screening services to detect undiagnosed diseases and conditions for student athletes have a problem with getting liability insurance or if they can get it, it would not allow them to offer screening for free. The state will now allow them to access liability insurance through a program already in place for medical volunteers who serve the uninsured.
- The Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota has been requested to establish a rare diseases advisory council.
- Provider transparency provisions take effect. Hospitals and other medical providers have to publish the rates of their most common procedures thanks to a law passed in 2018.
- PBM regulation takes effect August 1. This is the first time Pharmacy Benefit Managers have been regulated. They are a middleman between providers, health insurance companies, drug companies and the patient. They exert a powerful influence over what drugs are covered by insurance. The new law requires the PBMs to be licensed by the department of Commerce and report about what their processes are for making these decisions. It also prohibits pharmacies from withholding the information to enrollees that there may be a cheaper drug other than the covered drug available, called “gag clauses” and says a PBM can’t require patients to pay a higher price if they elect to pay cash rather than use their health insurance. The law takes effect on August 1, 2019, but PBMs have until January 1, 2020, to obtain a license – or face a $5,000 per day penalty for operating without a license.
Higher education. $3.41 billion in appropriations the funds represent an increase of $150 million over base. Nevertheless, the U is talking about a tuition hike.
Housing. $5 million for the Challenge program for developing affordable permanent rental housing; $3.5 million for Homework Starts with Home to identify, engage and stabilize students and $500,000 for Bridges Rental Assistance.
- Some tenant’s rights provisions are going into effect. Leases for buildings with more than 12 units will be required to specify the unit to be rented. They will also need to specify move in and out dates and prorate rent when full months are not part of those terms.
- A new law amends state statute to remove references to “subprime” relating to residential mortgage originators and services.
- A new law restricts residential mortgage originators from applying a prepayment penalty if the interest rates of the loan are structured in a certain manner.
- Public Safety and Corrections. $2.48 billion in spending, a $123.6 million increase over base. Funding for more prison officers. Additional dollars for the judiciary, public defenders, corrections officers and the Department of Human Rights. $150,000 for a Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
- A city or county will be allowed to establish a license reinstatement diversion program for individuals charged with driving after suspension or driving after revocation and defines which offenses are eligible offenses.
- Removal of the “marital rape exception” or “voluntary relationship defense” and permit the prosecution of individuals accused of committing sexual crimes against a spouse or a long-standing sexual partner. The law will repeal statutory language that a person does not commit criminal sexual conduct if the conduct is between “adults cohabiting in an ongoing voluntary sexual relationship at the time of the alleged offense, or if the complainant is the actor's legal spouse, unless the couple is living apart and one of them has filed for legal separation or dissolution of the marriage.” Sue Jeffers bashed this on her show saying that we didn’t need new law in this area, but from what I read, the specific case this was based on which was horrific – the guy drugged and raped his wife and filmed it, which wasn’t discovered until after they were separating, could not be prosecuted because they were married at the time. It was a loophole and the guy is obviously a sicko and shouldn’t have gotten just 30 days for invasion of privacy. Unfortunately unusual cases make bad law and you have to wonder if it will open the door to retaliation cases. OTOH many other states have done away with the marital exception on criminal sexual conduct.
- A $20 registration fee for the practice of hair braiding is abolished and the law provides that hair braiding is not subject to regulation or oversight by the Board of Cosmetologist Examiners.
Transportation. The omnibus transportation finance law will appropriate roughly $6.7 billion over the next two years for the Department of Transportation, transportation-related functions within the Department of Public Safety, and the transportation division of the Metropolitan Council, including Metro Transit.
- It directs $52.7 million to the replacement of the disastrous MNLARS.
- $203 million for the transportation functions of the Metropolitan Council, with the appropriations newly divided between Metro Mobility at $137.5 million and $65.5 million for other transit operations.
- a city may establish speed limits on local streets that differ from speed limits provided in state law;
- New traffic regulations related to school buses re-entering traffic from a shoulder, right-turn lane or other location used for passenger pick-up or drop-off.
- Slower traffic must move right on state highways and interstates or face a possible fine goes into effect August 1.
- Note: The new law on distracted driving and “hands free” electronic devices goes into effect on August 1.