May 19, 2023 - Politics

Minnesota gas tax hike, delivery fee in the mix in final days of session

Illustration of the Minnesota State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Buckle up for a marathon weekend of deal-making and debate at the state Capitol, as lawmakers scramble to spend a $17 billion surplus and get key bills across the finish line ahead of Monday's adjournment deadline.

State of play: As of Thursday β€” the House's initial goal date for finishing the session β€” about a dozen finalized budget bills had cleared both chambers, with several more priority measures in the pipeline for final votes.

Yes, but: Several major pieces of legislation, including a tax package, a transportation spending package and a hotly debated hospital staffing bill, remained unfinished with just four days to go.

Here's where some key remaining issues stand:

β›½ The transportation omnibus bill is on track to possibly include both a gas tax increase and a new fee that would apply to services such as Amazon and DoorDash deliveries and Uber rides, legislative leaders said yesterday.

πŸ₯ Legislative negotiators agreed to exempt the Mayo Clinic from requirements in a heavily lobbied nurse staffing bill following a threat from the system to pull back on planned investments if the proposal passed in its earlier form.

  • Sponsors said the change came at the behest of Gov. Tim Walz. Minnesota Nurses Association president Mary Turner called the move a "betrayal." The Minnesota Hospital Association remains opposed.

πŸ—³οΈ Dozens of local governments, including St. Paul, will get the green light to ask voters to raise sales taxes to pay for projects, leaders confirmed.

  • Yes, but: A two-year moratorium on new local tax measures is also in the works.

🏈 The Legislature is likely "out of time" to get sports betting done this year, House Speaker Melissa Hortman said.

πŸš— When asked if the Senate has the votes to pass a contentious proposal to give pay increases and job protections to Uber and Lyft drivers, Senate Leader Kari Dziedzic said they're still "working on that." "I don't have a crystal ball," she said.

  • The intrigue: She repeated the crystal ball line when asked whether all 34 members of her caucus will vote for other bills without that one guaranteed to pass.

🀱 A bill to create a statewide paid family and medical leave program cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday evening. Gov. Tim Walz has pledged to sign it.

What we're watching: Even if they can ink deals, long debates could derail the tight weekend timeline for passing remaining bills.

  • Both the House and Senate leaders signaled that they'd be willing to use procedural maneuvers to cut off discussion if needed.

🌿 The House gave final approval to a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use Thursday. The Senate could vote as soon as today.

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