The 10 major spending and policy plans of this legislative session have landed in conference committees, where lawmakers must meld the two versions of each bill.
The committees tackle topics from taxes to higher education to agriculture. They are all made up of five representatives and five senators who must find common ground between the disparate visions of the DFL House and Republican Senate.
Many of the conference committees start work Monday. A few met for the first time Friday — though not without some partisan controversy.
One group focused on the jobs, energy and commerce bill met Friday, but only House members attended the whole meeting. Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, wrote in a letter that senators would not attend and said scheduling the meeting before all committee members were selected “disrespects” the Senate. The conference committee is the only one where all House members are Democrats.
Meanwhile, some House members raised concerns with the Senate’s pace in selecting conference committee members. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka didn’t announce who would be on the transportation and education committees until Friday.
Conference committees have a May 13 deadline to finish their work. Then Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders have until May 20 to complete the final negotiations.
JESSIE VAN BERKEL