Tag Archives: policy

News for immigrants, non-citizens, and new Americans

Update from US Citizenship and Immigration Services

USCIS is considering changes that would allow certain immediate relatives (the spouse, children or parents of a U.S. citizen) who can demonstrate extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent to receive a provisional waiver of the unlawful presence bars before leaving the United States.

These procedures are not in effect and will not be available to potential applicants until USCIS publishes a final rule in the Federal Register specifying the effective date. USCIS plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the coming months and will consider all comments received as part of that process before publishing a final rule.

  • Do not send an application requesting a provisional waiver at this time. USCIS will reject any application requesting this new process and we will return the application package and any related fees to the applicant. USCIS cannot accept applications until a final rule is issued and the process change becomes effective. 
  • Be aware that some unauthorized practitioners of immigration law may wrongly claim they can currently file a provisional waiver application (Form I-601) for you. These same individuals may ask you to pay them to file such forms although the process is not yet in place. Please avoid such scams. USCIS wants you to learn the facts about protecting yourself and your family against scammers by visiting

If you already have an immigrant visa interview with the U.S. Department of State, we strongly encourage you to attend. The Department of State may cancel your immigrant visa registration if you fail to appear at this interview.


The following was taken from a newsletter from the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

Emergency Medical Assistance: Recently, 2,300 Minnesotans received letters informing them that they would no longer qualify for Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA) beginning January 1, 2012. Specifically, due to changes made during the 2011 special legislative session, EMA would no longer cover such treatment as dialysis, chemotherapy, in-patient treatment, or mental health treatment. Due to the nature of who EMA covers, these changes impacted only non-citizens. The persons affected ranged from children to the elderly; from undocumented parents with U.S. citizen children to persons who have been legal permanent residents in Minnesota for years. Among other actions, ILCM began taking calls from affected immigrants and community partners almost immediately. Thanks to the generosity of the Minneapolis Foundation, we were recently able to hire a part-time attorney to screen immigrants for possible immigration relief such as applying for U.S. citizenship, U-visas, or a family petition to address both their immigration status and their eligibility to access life-saving healthcare. ILCM is also working hard with multiple partners to try to reinstate EMA coverage for as many persons as possible. Please be sure to sign up for action alerts and we promise to keep you informed as this issue moves forward. For more details, read this January 10 article from Minnesota Public Radio.

Click here to read a fact sheet compiled by the Department of Human Services on how last years change to EMA reduced coverage of serious medical conditions for some of Minnesota’s low-income immigrants.


Family Visa Waiver Petition: On January 6, USCIS announced its intent to reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from their family members under certain circumstances while those family members proceed through the legal immigration process. This announcement from USCIS is wonderful news for immigrant families across the United States. We believe the announcement is the result of high-profile advocacy efforts like that of film director Ruth Leitman in her stellar documentary Tony and Janina’s American Wedding: A Deportation Love Story, as well as stories like Emily and Raul’s represented by ILCM and its pro bono attorneys, and another one in which an ILCM board member’s client died while waiting to be reunited with his U.S. citizen spouse from Hinckley.


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Redistricting news

You might have a new state legislator or two to vote for!

For the political junkies out there, here are articles on Minnesota’s new districts from redistricting:

New court plan pairs 46 incumbents in the Minnesota Legislature

Interactive Map: Redistricting Minnesota

  • Includes Congressional and state legislature maps

District-by-district look at Minnesota’s new congressional map

Minnesota’s ‘fair’ redistricting map ensures big legislative turnover

Legislative map: All shook up


And some news on city wards:

Last year’s redistricting of St. Paul’s wards didn’t change much

Minneapolis redistricting group signs off on tentative new wards


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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Community news, National news


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Burma Health Dialogue: From Entry to Integration

Burma Health Dialogue: From Entry to Integration

Monday, March 12, 2012

Time: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Location: MN Department of Health’s Snelling Office Park

Mississippi Room, 1645 Energy Park Drive, St Paul, MN

Link for directions:


This dialogue is a follow up to the event ‘Healthcare for the Burmese and Karen Communities in Minnesota: A Community Conversation’ held on October 29, 2011 at Rondo St. Paul Public Library.


Suggested attendees include: health providers, social workers, educators, health plans, legislators, social service providers, community agencies and others serving refugees from Burma.


Highlights Include:

Overview:   Refugees from Burma

Panel 1: Entry – Journey to the United States 

This panel will include a personal refugee story, as well as provide insight into the role that several agencies play when new refugees come to Minnesota. Panelists will include representatives from the state health department, a local refugee resettlement agency and a community based organization.

Panel 2: Integration – Health Care Coordination

This panel will explore the systems needed to ensure care coordination for refugees after initial resettlement in the U.S. as well as an overview by a primary care provider on working with refugees from Burma. Panelists will include representatives from an interpreter service agency, a health plan, a health provider, and a healthcare navigator. 

Interactive discussion will be encouraged throughout the afternoon.

Stay tuned for a detailed agenda coming soon!

CEUs will be available. This event is FREE to the public.

RSVP to Scott Ruhsam at or 612-588-9410 by March 5.

This program is sponsored by MDH, HealthEast Care System, UCare, Karen Organization of Minnesota, Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and Language Banc.

healthdialogue sponsors

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in CAPM Events, CAPM news


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Conference Call/Web Chat: Small Business Administration 101 (2/22/12)

U.S. Department of Education sent this bulletin at 02/21/2012 11:57 AM EST

Join Us for Our Next Conference Call/Web Chat:

Small Business Administration (SBA) 101

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will host a conference call/webinar in collaboration with the SBA. Representatives from SBA will speak about their efforts to support small business owners and entrepreneurs, including:

  • Providing business owners access to capital
  • Opportunities in government contracting
  • Access to entrepreneurial education and counseling
  • Disaster assistance for business owners, homeowners, and renters.

Small businesses account for nearly two of three new jobs created today. AAPI-owned businesses, like other minority-owned businesses, continue to grow and provide employment opportunities, contributing to the recovery and growth of the current economy.  Hear from officials from the Small Business Administration about their work to protect the interests of AAPI-owned small businesses, and ask questions about accessing these federal resources.


WHO:                   Meina Banh, Special Assistant, Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs,
U.S. Small Business Administration

                               Chris Chan, Special Advisor for Public Engagement,
U.S. Small Business Administration

WHEN:                Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST

HOW:                   To join on-line:

1. Click here
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the session password: welcome1
4. Click “Join Now”.
5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

**WebEx technical support – 800-857-8777

                                 To join by phone:

Dial:      888-982-4491
Passcode:         6271


Questions can be submitted via Twitter at

*Note: all web chats are off the record and are not for press purposes.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in National news


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Planning for Higher Education

Century Hosts PSEO Information Night Feb 14

Century College will host a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) Information Night on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m. on the East Campus Lincoln Mall.

Students and their families are invited to learn how high school students can earn both high school and college credit through this popular public program.

For more information, please call 651-773-1700 or email


Dual Credit courses are working, and Minnesota should do more to encourage participation

By Paj Ntaub Lee and Joe Nathan, originally posted on
Dual Credit courses offer important benefits to high-school students. This includes saving money by earning free, or almost free, college credits while still in high school. It also includes reducing the likelihood of taking remedial courses in reading, writing or math on entering any form of post-high school education. Since taxpayers help pay for remedial courses, reducing the number that are needed saves us money too. Whether students are considering enrolling in a one, two or four-year program after high school, these are great options.

more info at


First Step Summer Institute at St. Kate’s

The First Step Summer Institute is a free, unique college-immersion experience that prepares 50 young women of color for higher education. In each one-week residential program, 25 students gain a deeper sense of commitment to pursue higher education, a strong network of diverse, college-bound friends and mentors, a sense of support and encouragement from St. Kate’s staff, faculty, and students, and more perspective on college living and college expectations. Plus, students have a great time exploring campus and the surrounding Highland Park area.

If accepted to First Step, students have the option of attending one of two sessions:

* Session I: June 18-22, 2012
* Session II: June 25-June 29, 2012

By participating in First Step, students will get:

* Instruction from college staff and faculty about career exploration, ACT test prep, financial aid, essay writing, scholarships, study skills, college culture, women’s empowerment, and college money management
* Advice from students of color attending St. Kates and professional women of color who are leaders in the Twin Cities
* Fun, interactive, outdoor training on leadership and teamwork skills

All First Step graduates are eligible to receive a scholarship of up to $2,000 per year for four years (totaling up to $8,000), if they enroll at St. Catherine University.

Students must meet the following eligibility requirements in order to be considered for admission to First Step:

* Be currently enrolled as a sophomore or a junior in high school
* Identify as a woman of color
* Have at least a 2.5 G.P.A.
* Submit two completed letters of recommendation (see attached document)
* Submit a completed application (see attached document)
* Submit an official transcript

The APPLICATION DEADLINE for First Step is Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Admission decisions will be mailed to students and families by the last week in May. All application materials should be mailed to me at the following address:

St. Catherine University
Multicultural & International Programs & Services (MIPS) Office
Attn: Carolyn Jackson
2004 Randolph Ave., F-29
St. Paul, MN 55105

First Step website:

Carolyn Jackson,


UMN Asian American College Day seeks volunteers on Friday April 27th

Interested in volunteering? Planning meeting is this Thursday, January 26th from 4:00pm- 5:00pm in the Social Sciences Building, room 260

During this daylong event, we invite local Asian American high school students to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. The purpose of College Day is to promote post-secondary education for Asian American students and to empower these potential college students to succeed in academic excellence. College Day provides a unique on-campus experience at the University of Minnesota that will offer insight to higher education by partnering Asian American high school students with a small group of U of M undergraduate students.high school students will meet current undergraduate students, faculty and staff, and gain access to available resources and services that can prepare them for college admission and academic readiness. Participants will attend a series of workshops to help prepare them for college. The workshop series will consist of Admissions, Financial Aid, Career Exploration, and Gender Issues in Higher Education. This will also help the high school student network and build connection to the University.

For more info, contact Saengmany Ratsabout at ratsa001 [at]


Lastly, US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, made a stop in Minnesota last month. Here is a video of the event at Irondale High School where he addressed Minnesota’s education and government leaders.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Community news


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2012 legislation of interest (so far)

SF 1556 (Lourey; Higgins; Marty; Hayden and Sheran) (Companion to HF

Referred to the Health and Human Services committee. Restores the 20% wage cut for family members providing personal care assistance (PCA) services.
HF 1953 (Abeler and Hilstrom)

Referred to the Education Reform
committee. Prohibits bullying and retaliation against bullying in public schools and requires public and charter schools to provide bullying prevention programs for all K-12 students.

HF 1986 (Gottwalt)

Referred to the Health and Human Services Reform committee. Reduces the income eligibility criteria for the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program, which provides MinnesotaCare enrollees with vouchers to purchase health insurance on the private market, from 200% to 150% of the federal poverty level. Extends the period of time the person on the program has to choose a health insurance plan from three to four months before they lose their eligibility and have to reapply. Allows MinnesotaCare enrollees who are eligible for MCHA (Minnesota’s high-risk pool) to enroll in MCHA without first being denied coverage by a health plan.

Council on Affairs of Chicano/Latino People, Council on Black Minnesotans, Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Indian Affairs Council, and Council on Disabilities continued existence provided.

Collaborative grant program to reduce minority populations unemployment and appropriation

SF1672 and HF1888
Expands medical assistance eligibility to include qualified noncitizens that entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996 and noncitizens that are not legally “qualified noncitizens” as they work toward citizenship. (this repeals the new provision passed in 2011 that cut off EMA for non-citizens).

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Legislative


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REFORM 2.0 – House Republican Caucus Agenda

PDF available at


Jobs and Economy

Reduce Business Property Tax. Encourage Growth.

  • Exclude first $100,000 in value of business property from statewide property tax.
  • Phase out and eliminate business property tax.
  • Freeze state general tax inflator.
  • Enhance Angel Investment Tax Credit to spur entrepreneurship and growth.


Reduce Regulation. Create Opportunity.

  • Establish limited moratorium on state rulemaking and regulations.
  • Create Small Business Regulatory Review Board
  • Create an ombudsman as a primary contact in state government for new and expanding businesses.
  • Reform prevailing wage laws to lower the cost of construction projects.
  • Reform state laws to curtail lawsuit abuse.
  • Lower energy costs by crediting hydro power in renewable energy goals.
  • Require agencies to keep clean water standards at the Federal maximum.
  • Create advisory inspection program so businesses can fix issues without the threat of penalties or fines


Provide Highly-Skilled Work Force. Create High Value.

  • Improve urban education and reduce achievement gaps by granting mayors in Minneapolis and Saint Paul mayoral control of their city’s school districts.
  • Aggressive strategies to turn around the state’s lowest achieving schools.
  • Give parents a stronger voice in public education by allowing them to petition to convert their failing public schools into charter schools.
  • Allow for aggressive replication of  high performing charter schools.
  • Link pay to teacher and student performance.
  • Remove barriers to eliminate ineffective teachers including Last In, First Out.
  • Allow referendum funding dollars to follow resident student.

Health Care

Fight Nationalized Health Care. Minnesota-Smart Reforms.

  • Simplify insurer and health plan regulation.
  • Consolidate health plan regulatory under one agency.
  • Eliminate requirement that all HMOs serve state health care programs
  • Combine health care purchasing under single agency to reduce duplication and costs by increasing efficiency and buying power.
  • Enhance privatization of public subsidized health care to improve care, improve payments to doctors and hospitals, and save the state money.
  • Allow elderly Minnesotans to convert life insurance death benefit into long-term care insurance benefit.
  • Provide tax deduction for individual health insurance premiums and out-of pocket medical expenses.
  • Combat Medicaid fraud with up-front screening and detection.
  • Establish higher MFIP standards for welfare eligibility to mirror border states.
  • Create Return on Taxpayer Investment Report so taxpayers know if their dollars are effectively being used to achieve particular public health outcomes.


Government is 20 years behind. It’s time to catch up.

  • Equalize government pay and benefits with the private sector.
  • Reduce Executive Branch departments and align staff/management ratios.
  • Require city and county governments to present budget and spending information in any easy-to-understand format designed to educate taxpayers and engage citizens in local government spending decisions.
  • Consolidate back office functions; streamline and reduce fleet management; and evaluate real estate leases.
  • Work with local governments to provide requested mandate relief by ending prescriptive, redundant and outdated mandates
  • Fix problems encountered during the government shutdown:
  • Grant licensing and inspection authority to independent contractors or local governments.
  • Allowing Canterbury Park, Minnesota Racing Commission, Minnesota State Lottery, and Minnesota Zoo and others to operate during a government shutdown.
  • Let people buy beer.
  • Require state budget to include federal insolvency contingency planning.
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Legislative


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Key issues and topics for the 2012 session

2012 Legislative Highlights, pdf format available.

(Note: Sources are listed in the links provided).

educationEducation (source)

  • Republican legislative leaders outlined their education agenda for 2012, which includes
  • Performance-based teacher pay
  • Basing layoffs primarily on teacher effectiveness rather than seniority
    • The provision would allow schools to cut the least competent staff members during cuts, as opposed to only the most recently hired staff members. (source)
    • Educational policy observers have commented that how “teacher effectiveness” is measure has yet to be determined (i.e. is it based on MCA scores or other measures of student success?)
  • Requiring local referendum money to follow students if they attend a charter school within their home district boundaries. Charter schools currently receive per-pupil dollars only from the state.

Opposition against these proposals is expected from Democrats, including the governor.

NCLB Waiver

Minnesota’s request to opt out of key provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law also will be up for debate.

In its waiver application, the Minnesota Department of Education spelled out a new accountability system for schools that will focus not just on test scores but also on other measures of student growth – such as achievement rates of students of color.

Two key GOP lawmakers who head House education committees wrote a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week asking him to reject Minnesota’s waiver request.

The future of Integration Funding

The Legislature also will tackle integration funding, which will be phased out in 2013. A task force is drafting recommendations to redirect the money, which is used for voluntary desegregation efforts, to other efforts to boost student achievement.

Addressing the school funding shift

Currently, MN’s schools are paid 60% of their funding total and 40% the following year. The delay in funding has forced some districts to pursue short term financing, which incurs additional financing costs.

Education policy advocates have noted that only MN and California employ a school funding shift. California has a 19% school shift. (source)

“We need to start figuring out a way to get that paid back,” Koenen said. “It’s getting to be such a huge dollar amount, and the bigger it gets, the more difficult it becomes to pay back. We showed a surplus for the remainder of the biennium, but in the future we’ll be looking at a deficit again, and we have to be careful we don’t do more school shifts that will make the whole thing worse.” (Source)

healthHealth (source)

The Health Insurance Exchange

The HIE continues to be a topic of discussion as state leaders would like to avoid having a federal exchange being adopted in Minnesota.

Emergency Medical Assistance (source)

Non-U.S. citizens in Minnesota who received emergency medical assistance from a program of last resort will no longer receive health care, thanks to the budget deal to end last summer’s state government shutdown.

Among them are doctor visits, home health care, treatment for chronic conditions such as chemotherapy and dialysis, and prescriptions from outpatient pharmacies. The Emergency Medical Assistance program served people who can’t qualify for Medicare or MinnesotaCare because of their immigration status.

Some critics have stated that nobody should die of an illness when there’s treatment available just because of their immigration status.Other critics of the cuts say the state may save some money, but counties will pay the bill when patients wind up in county hospital emergency rooms where they can’t be turned away.

Rep. Abeler said, to address it, he plans to introduce a bill that would adopt the coordinated care model that replaced General Assistance Medical Care for the poorest and sickest patients in several large Twin Cities area hospitals.

Personal care attendants

Human Services Commissioner Jesson and some Republican legislators are looking for ways to restore some or all of the 20-percent cut in pay to about 7,000 family members who act as care attendants. A Ramsey County District judge granted a temporary restraining order after some care providers challenged the law as unfair and unconstitutional, and a final decision is expected soon.

Cuts to family caregivers heavily impacted Asian Pacific families who need to employ a family member as a PCA due to language and cultural needs.

Converting life insurance benefits into long-term care benefits

Republican lawmakers are considering a bill that allow elderly Minnesotans to convert life insurance benefits into long-term care benefits. (Source)


Dayton’s jobs plan includes tax credits for businesses that hire veterans, long-term unemployed resident and college graduates.

The job plan reduces the cost of hiring an additional worker through the New Jobs Tax Credit. The credit provides $3,000 in 2012 and $1,500 in 2013 for hiring an unemployed worker, a veteran or a recent graduate, and thus makes it more likely that a firm will hire a new employee.

The governor’s plan also zeroes in on the “skills gap”. Briefly, some businesses want to hire workers but can’t find people with the necessary skills. The prescription for this malady is to promote training and match up potential employees with employers. The job bill does this by expanding the fastTRAC program  and by creating a Minnesota Opportunity Grants Pilot Program. (Source)

Republicans would like to restore the private sector economy through reducing the size and cost of government and continuing reforms that remove mandates or regulatory red tape.

Economic and Government reform (source)

Republicans on Thursday announced a “Reform 2.0″ plan that aims to shrink government and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses. (Source)

Reduce regulations on businesses

One example given was working with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to build a better relationship between it and the businesses it regulates. Such as OSHA visiting sites without the intention of issuing fines, but to give suggestions on how to improve compliance with regulations.

GOP leaders will also focus on restructuring state agencies for efficiency and evening out staff ratios.

Constitutional Amendments (source)

Voter ID

Sen. Senjem said requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot has “overwhelming public support” and “will probably find its way to a ballot question” this session. Rep. Zellers agreed.

Dayton vetoed a voter-ID bill last session. He said he would be open to negotiating a bill he could accept this session but made no promises.

Super-majority required for tax increases

Rep. Zellers said requiring a three-fifths majority to raise taxes is also popular in the Republican caucus and among state residents.

Marriage Amendment

Already on the ballot for the general election is a 2012 ballot question that will ask voters if they support amending the state Constitution to define marriage as only the union of a man and woman.

Community organizers in the Asian community have begun work to oppose the amendment. (Source)


2012 is a bonding year and the GOP legislative caucus and Gov. Dayton have some differing views on how much to fund public works projects. Details on the governor’s bonding plan are listed on our blog.

Gov. Dayton would like to see a $775 million bonding bill as a way to spur hiring.This is in response to the concern that there is insufficient demand for the goods and services firms produce, so there is no point in hiring more workers. The governor’s plan aims at this problem through a bonding bill.

Sen. Senjem, who chairs the Senate’s capital investment committee, is shooting for about $400 million in bonding; Rep. Zellers has not announced a target amount. (Source).

Overall, Republican leaders say they are wary of using public-works projects as job-creation vehicles and prefer to focus bonding money on fixing existing infrastructure.

Important dates

Budget Forecast

A year ago, lawmakers faced a $5 billion deficit, but that has been erased so they can concentrate on non-budget issues. However, if a Feb. 29 budget report shows new fiscal problems, the budget could again dominate.


Part of the reason a short session is predicted is so those running for re-election can campaign. And with new district maps to be released Feb. 21, that could speed things up even more as lawmakers feel the need to check out their new districts.


February 2-7: House break for Precinct Caucuses

February 7: Precinct Caucuses

Easter Break

April 6-13: Easter/Passover break; no official legislative business

End of Session

April 30: Proposed Legislative Adjournment Date

Other important political dates are listed on our blog.

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Community news, Legislative


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Minnesota Legislative Preview – 2012 Session

The blog, Inside the Minnesota Capitol, has an concise and comprehensive overview of important issues and events leading up to the 2012 session and key legislative topics for MN’s next legislative session. In an nutshell, the big topics are:

  • Redistricting
  • The Vikings Stadium
  • Constitutional Amendments
    • Definition of Marriage
    • Voter ID
    • Requiring a super-majority for tax increases
[Note: these are not the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans' legislative priorities. CAPM's 2012 agenda will be released within two weeks.]


On Tuesday, January 24, the 2012 Minnesota Legislative Session convenes. This is a capital bonding session which means the legislators will focus on passing a bonding bill for major state projects — Bricks and Mortar — such as road construction, higher education buildings and building maintenance for state owned properties. It is also an election year. All 201 legislators in the Minnesota House and Senate are up for election. Governor Dayton will not stand for election until 2014.



On the Budget

The State’s November 2011 budget forecast showed a surprising and dramatic improvement in the State’s fiscal situation. The 2011 budget session dealt with a $5 billion budget deficit that produced a long drawn out 2011 session, a special session and a three-week government shutdown. The November 2011 forecast projected an $876 million budget surplus for the remaining biennium which runs until June 30, 2013.

This surplus creates a much different type of session. Since there is a surplus and not a deficit, there is no immediacy for budget action. The bonding bill will be a big part of the session, but now, other issues can be considered such as the Vikings Stadium.

Constitutional Amendments / Ballot Initiatives

With all the acrimony and party polarization, constitutional amendments have become an increasingly popular avenue to pursue to get policy adopted. Already on the ballot for the general election this November is an amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. This will certainly bring voters to the polls. Other amendments being considered include requiring the use of an ID in order to vote, limiting the Legislature’s ability to raise taxes and adopting right to work requirements.

The 2012 Session has lots of potential for high drama with the leadership changes in the Senate, the budget surplus, a strong interest in building a Vikings Stadium, the high profile issue of the expansion of gaming, redistricting and a re-election year for all 201 members. The Republican controlled Legislature wants a short session so as to get out on the campaign trail and the DFL Governor will want to campaign for a DFL controlled Legislature to take over in 2012.

It will be a contentious, fast paced session. We will bring you updates throughout the session.

[read more at]

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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Legislative


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