With the holidays fast approaching, it is easy to overlook the fact that the 2015 legislative session is just around the corner!
The session, which starts on Jan. 6, will primarily focus on the state budget for 2016-2017. In each session after an election much of the first month is spent getting members up to speed on the specific issues covered by the committees they have been assigned to, drafting and introducing bills, and getting new legislators acclimated to their roles. With the majority switch in the House, there are also significant changes in office location, staff and other operations, all of which should mostly be ironed out in December. However, don’t be surprised if the House seems a bit unorganized the first week or two of session.
The first volley in the great budget discussion will be fired when Governor Dayton unveils his recommendations to the legislature at the end of January. It’s likely that the legislature will devote much of February to holding hearings on Dayton’s budget. The legislature’s own budget process will get underway in earnest after the next budget forecast is released around the beginning of March.
As the session unfolds, it will be as important as ever that our members keep in touch with updates from the CGMC and respond to “action alerts” and other inquiries from staff about how initiatives at the legislature may impact cities. Also, if you have not yet done so, now is the time to schedule a meeting with your legislators to discuss CGMC priorities and other issues affecting your community. It is important to establish relationships with legislators early on, especially with those who are newly elected this session.