The Health and Human Services (HHS) Conference Committee (a group of six Senators and six Representatives, chaired by Sen. Berglin and Rep. Huntley and charged with working out the differences between the House and Senate HHS omnibus bills) has been meeting since late last week. While there was some progress made over the past weekend, there are still many differences between the two bills that need to be worked out before a single final HHS bill can be sent to Governor Pawlenty. It is expected that the final HHS bill sent to Governor Pawlenty will contain some surcharges, something Governor Pawlenty considers a tax and therefore is not supportive of. As a result, some advocates believe that Governor Pawlenty will very likely veto the HHS bill once it is sent to him (there are rumors that the bill could be passed out of conference committee on Wednesday, May 12 and then sent on to Governor Pawlenty as soon as the compromised bill is passed off the House and Senate floor).
In additional developments at the legislature, Governor Pawlenty today vetoed a balanced budget proposal passed out of the House and Senate yesterday. The proposal included $435 million in increased income taxes for Minnesota’s highest earners, accepted many of the unallotments that Governor Pawlenty enacted at the end of the last legislative session, and called for $114 million in cuts to Health and Human Services. More information can be found in this Star Tribune article.
In a bit of good news, the MN Complete Streets legislation (of which MN-CCD has been a big supporter this session) was recently incorporated into the transportation omnibus bill which is currently on its way to Governor Pawlenty for (hopefully!) signing. More information on this legislation, which encourages more accessible streets and sidewalks in MN, can be found here.
Today was our last official “Tuesday at the Capitol” of the legislative session – a huge thank you to the hundreds of disability advocates who participated in this advocacy event with us over the past few months. We heard many times from legislators and their staff that your presence and story sharing made a difference – THANK YOU!
Stay tuned for more developments in the coming days….
- Anni Simons