Lawmakers prepare to tackle omnibus bills, budget items in return to St. Paul

ST. PAUL, MN(Quinn Gorham)
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 5:56 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (GRAY) -- Minnesota lawmakers returned to the legislative session Tuesday after a week of Spring Recess.

As members of the House and Senate draw closer to the end of the session, both chambers are preparing to tackle omnibus bills and budget items.

“These are the bills that put together each jurisdiction’s area of spending... they each get packaged up individually in these different sectioned areas,” said Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (R - East Grand Forks).

Typically omnibus bills are brought forward toward the end of the session when the budget targets have been set and committees have an idea of what they can spend.

“You wait until after the forecast, so you know how much you can spend,” Johnson said.

The Governor and both chambers of the state government released joint budget targets in late March, a relatively early time to have them. This week, the Senate is set to vote on its first omnibus bill on Thursday: the agriculture omnibus bill.

“We’ve got some stuff to help farmers rely on the prices that they might get and protect them in cases of disaster or controversy. But we’ve also got some resources there to expand who’s farming,” said Senator Aric Putnam, chair of the Senate Agriculture, Broadband and Rural Development Committee.

He says his bill, like many other omnibus bills, is carefully crafted to fit the needs of their specific areas.

“It makes me think about an issue coherently, to try to find that balance between this issue and that issue, to see the relationships between the different provisions that are in my bill, I think really hard about that,” Putnam said.

While some omnibus bills are likely to get through without much resistance, Sen. Johnson says there are occasionally some points of contention nestled in the contents of omnibus bills that could cause the minority party to vote against them.

With the DFL at the helm in both the House and Senate, Johnson believes any Republican protest could fall on deaf ears.

“Normally those would be things that would hold it up but I think this has all been pre-ordained and they’re gonna move forward with them regardless of if they have our support or not,” he said.

In addition to the Agriculture omnibus bill, the Senate will also take up the Judiciary and Public Safety Omnibus bill, the Jobs and Labor Omnibus Bill and the Commerce Omnibus bill later this week.