As is typical in most previous legislative sessions, the approval of State employee contracts does not happen until the end. The constitutional end date for the Minnesota Legislative Session is Monday, May 18.
The good news is that presently the contracts have been reviewed and approved by two House Committees - Labor and State Government. We expect the contracts will proceed through the House Committees and conclude this week when the contracts reach the important Ways and Means Committee. Way and Means will be final House Committee prior to the contracts being sent to the full House floor for a vote by all 134 members. The earliest the full House could vote on the contracts is May 5. We are optimistic that the House will approve the contracts but likely not without some objection from some House members. We anticipate those in objection will argue that given the State’s economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis no increase in State employee’s compensation should be budgeted now.
On the flip side, we are told the majority consensus in the Senate is the State should not increase costs; therefore, not approve the new contracts. Furthermore, we are told the Senate Committee does not plan to hold a hearing to consider the contracts in these remaining three weeks.
In order for the MMA 2019-2021 contract to remain in effect, approval by both the House and Senate are required. Should the contract not be approved, we would return to the terms of the previous MMA 2017-2019 contract.
We believe the contacts are now headed to a stalemate between the Senate and the House. We assume that will force the contracts into the final mix of issues to be negotiated between the House Leadership, Senate Leadership and Governor Walz. As you know there are different partisan affiliations between these three negotiating parties with the House and Governor being DFL and the Senate, Republican. Contract approval requires a formal action of affirmation from each of the three negotiating parties, so these parties have the ability to prevent the approval of the contracts. Currently, we are most concerned with the Senate; however, we cannot predict the outcome..
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