The 2017 Legislative Session is now into its weeks of Committee Deadlines. These are a series of three deadlines by which most bills must have action completed by their respective Committees in order to be still considered for passage by the whole of the Legislature. The first of these was last Friday; it applied to policy bills ( as opposed to spending or tax matters ). The second is this coming Friday; it applies to policy bills that made the first deadline of their respective policy Committee in at least one Chamber but not yet the other. The third deadline is Friday, March 31; it applies to spending bills. There is no deadline for the Tax Bill.
These deadlines create an intense and busy atmosphere around the halls of the Capitol as legislators, lobbyists, departments and agencies hurry to meet those dates.
As all of this has been happening, much discussion is taking place around the subject of State Public Pension policy. The Joint Legislative Commission on Pensions has held meetings during which they have heard much testimony from stakeholders. The Middle Management Association has followed these hearings closely.
At the same time and quite significantly, Governor Dayton has come forward with a clear message that among his priorities for this Session is to increase stabilization and security for all the pension funds. He proposes this through an adoption of a prior blue ribbon study commission's recommendations for a new assumption for returns on assets more attuned to the financial markets and the appropriation of new general fund dollars to reduce unfunded liabilities in the funds. While the Minnesota public pension fund is in far better shape than many other states, the Governor wishes to build greater stability and safety for the benefit of the State and present and future pensioners. As you likely understand, the potential difficulty for these farsighted proposals may be the appropriation of the additional dollars.
As the Session moves beyond the deadline phase and as the Senate and House adopt their major spending bills, the pension issues will increasingly move to the front of the list of items to be resolved. Should the legislature not provide the new funding proposed it is likely to become a major point in negotiations between the Legislature and the Governor as things move toward the May adjournment.
The Middle Management Association is working with other public employee groups in developing strategies and tactics to assist in finding a positive outcome in these matters. The Session has thus far seen some positive bi-partisan efforts but the truly challenging issues are still in front of us all.
We encourage members to reach out to pension commission members below and ask them to support Governor Dayton’s pension bill (House File 1288 and Senate File 1064).
Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement
•Sen. Julie Rosen (R) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1053
•Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1046
•Sen. Gary Dahms (R) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1174
•Sen. John Jasinski (R) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1227
•Sen. Warren Limmer (R) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1032
•Sen. Dan Schoen (DFL) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1236
•Sen. David Senjem (R) -- www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1058
•Rep. Tim O'Driscoll, (R) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15364
•Rep. Tony Albright, (R) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15390
•Rep. Sarah Anderson (R) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15269
•Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=10444
•Rep. Roz Peterson (R) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15442
•Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=10791
•Rep. Bob Vogel (R) -- www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15448