The 88th Minnesota Legislature convenes for the second half of the biennium on Feb. 25.
(Published Feb 24, 2014)
This will be a short session. With the Legislature convening on Feb. 25, adjournment constitutionally required by May 19, and an Easter/Passover recess running from April 11 to April 21, the Legislature has 73 calendar days, including weekends, to complete its business this year.
In addition to the May 19 adjournment date, the state constitution also restricts the Legislature to 120 “legislative days” in a biennium. A legislative day is a day in which either the House or the Senate meet in a floor session. The House and Senate used 62 of the permitted legislative days in 2013, leaving up to 58 days available this year.
Year for bonding
The 2014 session will include the traditional even-year activity related to funding capital projects. We also expect the legislative agenda will include discussions about the size of the state budget reserve, taxes, transportation funding, data practices, and many other issues of importance to cities across the state.
The committee agendas for the first week of session are being unveiled, and both House and Senate committees are poised to quickly jump into discussions of bills. The House unveiled 280 “pre-introduced” bills on Jan. 13, and those bills along with other recently drafted bills will be officially introduced on the first day of the session. We expect a similarly large set of bill introductions on the first day in the Senate.
With all of those bill introductions and the other roughly 1,800 House and nearly 1,700 Senate bills remaining from last year, the committees will have full agendas. The Senate and House Taxes committees have scheduled hearings for the first week. The House Taxes Committee hearing on Tuesday already has 27 bills on the agenda, mostly dealing with modifications to last year’s tax bill. Due to the number of bills, the committee is scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday evening to complete the lengthy agenda. We expect other committees in the House and the Senate to unveil similar agendas.
The House and Senate have agreed to committee deadlines for the session. The committee deadlines are a self-imposed calendar that is intended to focus legislative activity on bills that have been considered and approved by committees.
The first committee deadline is March 21. This is the date by which a bill, or its companion bill in the other body, must be reported out of all committees. The deadlines generally apply to policy committees, but specifically do not apply to the House committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration. They also do not apply to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Administration.
If a bill does not meet a committee deadline, the bill is technically dead for the remainder of the session unless it is resurrected by the Rules Committee in either the House or the Senate before completing its committee journey.
The second committee deadline will be March 28. By that date, companion bills to bills that met the first deadline must be reported out of all committees in the other body.
The third committee deadline for 2014 is April 4. This is the date by which House and Senate committees must have approved their omnibus finance and appropriation bills.
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