The Legislature will take another stab at freeing up federal election security money this week after a nearly yearlong impasse.
Legislators remain at odds over some $6.6 million intended to shore up the state’s election system. A conference committee is expected to reconvene Monday after an initial debate ended inconclusively this month.
Minnesota, one of 21 states targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election, remains the only state in the nation that has yet to use money approved last year by President Donald Trump.
The first attempt to appropriate funds died in the spending bill vetoed last year by then-Gov. Mark Dayton. Still, it was widely seen as a likely area of bipartisan consensus this session.
For now, the Democratic-led House wants to give Secretary of State Steve Simon the full $6.6 million, while the Republican-led Senate is only willing to free up the $1.5 million Simon first sought last year.
Simon wants to use the money to update Minnesota’s 14-year-old voter registration system, among other cybersecurity upgrades. He has said that failing to act “puts a target on our back.”
“You can’t build a house without locks and be surprised, then, when the bad guy comes in and wreaks havoc — especially when you’ve already been warned,” Simon said this month.