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:
- The Vikings Stadium
- Constitutional Amendments
- Definition of Marriage
- Voter ID
- Requiring a super-majority for tax increases
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.