The 2016 legislative session will begin on March 8, but many legislators are already back at work. More than 230 new bills have been pre-filed in the House of Representatives, and a number of committees have held informational hearings.
Senate Democrats and staff have moved into the new Minnesota Senate Building, where they will hold floor sessions in conference rooms. The House of Representatives will continue to hold floor sessions in the House Chamber of the State Capitol, despite the rest of the building being shut down for continued construction and restoration. No running water and extremely limited access in the Capitol will add to the unique challenges facing the 2016 session.
The 2016 session will be dominated by the “big three” topics of transportation, taxes and bonding, as well as competing ideas for how to use the state’s $1.9 billion surplus. While talk of a special session fizzled, the issues that would have been debated – such as disparities in communities of color and unemployment benefits for laid-off Iron Range workers – are likely to be discussed during the session’s first few weeks.