House passes slew of state government bills

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Following a day of heavy floor action on public safety bills, the House took up a slew of state government reform bills.

Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina) sponsors HF545*/ SF1600 that would require state agencies to plan for possible federal insolvency and/or dramatically reduced federal payments in their budgets. The bill passed 74-57 and now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Ted Daley (R-Eagan) is the sponsor.

Federal funds comprise 28.6 percent of the state’s total biennial budget, or $17.8 billion. Downey said that with the federal debt at record-high levels and partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., the bill is urgently needed. He called it a “common-sense risk management technique.”

Critics included Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), who accused the bill’s supporters of “fear mongering.”

Rep. Doug Wardlow (R-Eagan) sponsors HF1560*/ SF993 that would give administrative law judges the final say in contested cases involving rules prescribed by state agencies. The current practice is to refer the judge’s report to the relevant agency, which issues a final decision that can then be brought to an appellate court.

Wardlow said state agencies have been granted too much authority in regard to administrative procedures. He said powers that should belong only to the legislative and judicial branches of government now belong to “technocrats” in the executive branch.

“All this bill does is take the authority of the agencies to rewrite decisions of administrative law judges away,” Wardlow said.

Critics called the measure a “radical step” and argued it would not solve any practical problems.

The bill passed 70-62. Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) is the Senate sponsor.

Other bills passed:

  • HF1812*/ SF1846, sponsored by Rep. Kirk Stensrud (R-Eden Prairie) and Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Brainerd), would permit the Department of Administration to outsource waste management duties in the State Capitol complex. It passed 69-63.
  • HF212/ SF134*, sponsored by Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee) and Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan), would remove a statutory age limit for public employee interns. It passed 77-55 and now awaits gubernatorial action.
  • HF1850, sponsored by Downey, which would increase the maximum award for a gain-sharing program designed to incentivize state employees to find cost savings. It passed 91-39 and has no Senate companion.

 

Except where otherwise noted, all bills will now move to the Senate for action.