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Deal or no deal? What survived the 2019 session -- and what didn't

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The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on May 15, 2019.
The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on May 15, 2019. Now that lawmakers are headed into overtime to finish their work, here are some of the items that made the cut and some that didn't.
Steve Karnowski | AP Photo file

Updated: May 25, 9:30 a.m. | Posted: May 23, 3:25 p.m.

The details have come in slowly, sometimes on a single sheet of paper with notes and signatures hastily scrawled across it.  

But the particulars of the global deal on the state budget agreed to by the governor and top legislative leaders are finally rolling in.

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday called lawmakers back for a one-day special session starting Friday after nearly a week of closed-door negotiations on the state budget. Lawmakers have until June 30 to strike a deal on the budget, or state government will shut down.

Here's what we know survived — and what didn't — in final negotiations between Walz, DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.  

 

What's in the final agreement

Provider tax: After debating the issue all session, Republicans and Democrats agreed to extend a tax on health care providers indefinitely at 1.8 percent instead of 2 percent. The tax was set to expire at the end of the year, and Democrats wanted to continue it, but Republicans argued it should go away.  

Education funding boost: Republicans and Democrats met somewhere in the middle of their two education funding proposals and agreed to pump 2 percent more each year for the next two years into the state's education funding formula.

  Income tax cut: Republicans in the Senate fought for a 0.25 percent income tax rate reduction on the second tier, which was ultimately included in the final deal. It's the first income tax reduction in two decades.  

Missing and murdered indigenous women task force: After failing to make it to the finish line last year, lawmakers ultimately agreed this year to establish a task force to look into the staggering rates of disappearances and violence against Native American women.  

MNLARS funding: Lawmakers spent years going back and forth on what to do with the troubled licensing and registration system, which was plagued by technical difficulties. Earlier this session, Walz and a bipartisan group of leaders agreed to scrap the program altogether and start over with an outside vendor. Funding to do so is included in the final transportation budget agreement — totaling $55 million — as well as funding to reimburse deputy registrars, who were hurt financially by problems with the system. 

  Local government aid: Cities and counties are getting more than $50 million more in program aid over the next two years under the budget deal.

Solitary confinement reporting requirements: The House and Senate agreed to pass a long-sought bill by mental health groups establishing data collection and notification requirements about the Department of Corrections' use of the controversial practice of solitary confinement. The push came after a Star Tribune series chronicling the practice.  

Chronic wasting disease: Lawmakers in environmental budget committees have spent the session trying to get their arms around the issue of Chronic Wasting Disease, a neurological disorder in deer that's almost always fatal and can easily spread to other deer. Under the budget deal, there will be tougher regulations on deer farms and hunters who encounter the disease, as well as a new adopt-a-dumpster program to dispose of deer carcasses infected by CWD. Legislators are also putting new resources into studying and managing the disease.  

Sexual assault laws working group: The public safety and judiciary budget bill included a provision to create a task force to look at investigations and prosecutions of sexual assault crimes in the state. The provision followed reporting in the Star Tribune that showed systemic issues with the state's laws.

Opioid fees: A bill that Gov. Tim Walz has already signed  will establish a new licensing fee for drug manufacturers and distributors and raise roughly $20 million a year to combat the opioid crisis in Minnesota. If the state settles pending court cases with drug makers, the fees could be reduced under a deal struck between the House and Senate.  

Election security funding: It took all session — and beyond — but the House and Senate have agreed to allow the Minnesota Secretary of State to access nearly $6.6 million available to the state through the federal Help America Vote Act for election system upgrades and security.  

Wage theft: For the first time, the state will define wage theft in law as the practice of employers not paying employees contractually owed wages. The deal will define the practice and establish penalties for employers.

  Census funding: Efforts to prepare for the once-a-decade census count, which kicks off on April 1, 2020, will get a $1.6 million boost under the budget deal. That will be used for outreach to hard-to-count communities and to prepare for the first-ever digital census.

  Presidential primary secrecy: If you vote in presidential primary next March, the political parties will find out which side you cast your ballot for, but the broader public won't find out. State law previously allowed for public disclosure upon request of party preference.    

What didn't make it

  Gun control legislation: In the end, a divided House and Senate could not find agreement on two proposals aimed at curbing gun violence, including one to establish what's known as red flag protection orders to seize weapons from people considered a danger to themselves or others, and another to expand background checks to gun shows and other private transfers.

  Gas tax increase: A 20-cent increase in the gas tax proposed by Walz and Democrats in the House was bumped down to a 16-cent proposed increase, but Republicans wouldn't budge on any kind of increase to fees at the pump. Walz said he will continue to push for ways to fund long-term transportation infrastructure projects.  

Opportunity scholarships: In final negotiations, Democrats jettisoned a Senate Republican provision to allow tax breaks for Minnesotans who donate to private school scholarships.  

Eliminating severe and pervasive court standard: Despite two years of debate and bipartisan votes in the House, the lower chamber has yet to strike a deal with the Senate on a bill to eliminate a strict court standard to hear sexual harassment cases.  

Driver's licenses for immigrants: Senate Republicans did not back a House DFL plan to allow immigrants without legal status to obtain a driver's license. The bill would have allowed them to get an ID for driving but not for voting or other purposes.   

Health care buy-in option: In announcing a budget deal, Walz conceded that his plan to create a public option in the state's individual insurance marketplace will have to wait until at least next year, when lawmakers aren't overwhelmed with passing the massive health and human services budget bill.  

Paid Leave: A bill to establish statewide funding to cover paid family and medical leave faltered in the final agreement after the Senate pushed back on the cost of the program and establishing new requirements for businesses.  

Energy standard: A bill to require utilities to provide 100 percent clean electricity by 2050 didn't survive in the final jobs and energy budget bill. Republicans in the Legislature pushed back on the proposal because they said it would raise energy prices.  

Abortion restrictions: A Senate provision to ban abortions for women more than 20 weeks into their pregnancy did not make it into a final health and human services budget bill. Walz and Democrats in the House opposed it.  

Recreational marijuana: A bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota died earlier this year after a vote in the Senate judiciary committee, but another bill from the House to create a task force to examine the logistics around possible legalization also didn't survive final negotiations.  

Emergency insulin: A deal to include a new fee for insulin manufacturers to establish an emergency insulin program in the state fell apart in the final hours of negotiating the health and human services bill. The House and Senate committee chairs went back and forth on social media about who ultimately nixed the proposal from the final deal.  

Conversion therapy ban: A proposal to ban mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with clients under age 18 or with vulnerable adults did not make it in the final health and human services budget bill. Senate Republicans were working on a last-minute amendment to ban practices that are "coercive" and "aversive," but Democrats said that would effectively nullify the purpose of the bill.

Tobacco 21: Local governments have already moved to ban tobacco products for people under the age of 21, but a bill included in the House budget would extend that prohibition statewide. It's unclear if the provision survived in final budget negotiations.