Senate Committee Passes Scaled-Backed Bill for Elections Security Funding

The legislation will appropriate only a fraction of federal funds to the Office of the Secretary of State for election cybersecurity.
(Published Feb 11, 2019)

The Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee on Feb. 7 heard SF 241 (Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake), a bill that would provide a portion of the federal funding for election cybersecurity.

The bill was amended and passed on a roll call vote of 6-4 and can now be heard in the Senate Finance Committee.

Authorization vetoed in larger 2018 bill

A total of $6.6 million was appropriated by the federal government in 2018, but Minnesota state law requires the Legislature to authorize the use of the funding. Language to do so was included in the vetoed 990-page omnibus state government finance and policy bill last session.

Minnesota is one of only five states that requires legislative approval to unlock the funding and was the only state unable to use the funds for the 2018 election. But in absence of that, Secretary of State Steve Simon still moved ahead by convening a working group of local elections administrators, including city officals, to determine how best to use the money, once it is presumably appropriated.

SF 241 would appropriate $1.5 million instead of the full $6.6 million. An additional Senate bill, SF 93, also authored by Sen. Kiffmeyer, would appropriate the full funding but has not received a hearing.

City official supports full funding

League Elections Task Force Chair and Blaine City Clerk Cathy Sorensen testified in support of full funding to the Office of the Secretary of State to begin the critical work to improve and secure Minnesota’s elections systems.

The House companions, HF 14 (companion to SF 93) (Rep. Mike Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park) and HF 17 (companion to SF 241) (Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-Sartell) have passed out of the Elections Subcommittee, the Government Operations Committee, and the State Government Finance Division. HF 14 is scheduled to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 11.

For more background information about this topic, read a previous Cities Bulletin article.

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