AgriGrowth Policy Update 1.5.21

January 5, 2021

2021 Minnesota Legislative Session Convenes Today

The 2021 Minnesota legislative session was gaveled in today in a setting unlike any other year in state history. Due to the continuing protocols in place as a result of the ongoing pandemic, lawmakers were sworn-in both in-person and virtually. The House of Representatives is controlled by the DFL as it was the past two years, however with a slightly smaller 70-64 majority. The majority caucus will be led by Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL - Brooklyn Park), while the GOP will once again be led by Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R - Crown). In the Senate, the GOP maintained control of the upper body and enjoys a 34-31-2 majority. The GOP will again be led by Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R - East Gull Lake), while the DFL Minority Leader is Senator Susan Kent (DFL - Woodbury).

In addition, a new dynamic emerged in the Senate after the elections when former DFL Majority Leader Tom Bakk and former Senate Energy Committee Chair David Tomassoni defected from the DFL caucus and now identify as Independents. They were both awarded committee gavels and will caucus with the GOP during the legislative session.

The first year of each legislative biennium is dedicated to the passage of a state budget for the new two-year cycle. Recent figures released by Minnesota Management and Budget show that the state has an almost $1.3 billion projected budget deficit for the 2022-23 biennium that begins on July 2, 2021. This number could change by the time the next budget forecast is released in February, but for now lawmakers are under the assumption there will be a large budget deficit to address topline items such as COVID-19 relief, health care funding, education funding, transportation funding, tax relief and a possible bonding bill. While a deficit this size is not unprecedented, the number improved dramatically from the previously $4.7 billion projected deficit the state found itself last year after the pandemic ravaged the state’s economy. The financial tone of the session will be set when Gov. Walz releases his budget recommendations later this session. The House and Senate will then follow suit by unveiling their proposed two-year budgets which will then be negotiated between by the two bodies, as well as Governor Walz  and his administration.

In addition, policy initiatives such as gun control, legalization of marijuana, and voter ID have been mentioned as priorities this session. However, legislative leaders have informed their caucus members to temper expectations on the passage of policy items this year due to the logistical difficulties they will be facing while legislating remotely. This year will also feature the unique dynamic with Minnesota once again being the only divided state government in the country. The 2021 session must adjourn no later than midnight on Monday, May 17. If there are any issues that you would like the AgriGrowth team to be aware of this session, please feel free to contact AgriGrowth’s Director of Government & Member Relations Patrick Murray at or (651) 238-0089.

Join AgriGrowth for our 2021 Legislative Session Kick-Off Next Wednesday, January 13

Please join the AgriGrowth team next Wednesday, January 13 from 11:00 a.m. to noon for our virtual 2021 Legislative Session Kick-Off as we provide members with a preview of the 2021 legislative session. What are the biggest issues lawmakers will be tackling this year and just how will they reach an agreement to pass the upcoming two-year budget? This interactive event will also feature a Q&A session where attendees’ most pressing questions will be answered by AgriGrowth’s government affairs team. REGISTER NOW for this event and we'll see you next week!

Mark Your Calendar: AgriGrowth “Day on the Hill” Set for February 16

Please save the date forour2021 virtual “Day on the Hill” set for Tuesday, February 16th. This annual event is critical to AgriGrowth’s efforts to advance and advocate for our state policy priorities. Members from across the state and region will come together virtually to get to know state legislators and officials and to discuss the important role our members play in the Minnesota and regional economy. Lawmakers will have the opportunity to hear from and speak to a broad array of agriculture and food industry stakeholders regarding key issues at the state level. Please watch for additional details on this important event as they become available. If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Murray at (651) 238-0089

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